Kenyan Delegation with Drs. Lee Becker and Tudor Vlad.

Panelists Offer Advice On Relations Between Government Press Officers And Journalists For Kenyan Delegation

Dr. C. Ann Hollifield told a delegation of nine high-level government information officers from Kenya visiting the University of Georgia in late September that the key to reducing conflict between journalists and public relations practitioners is for each side to understand the motivations and goals of the other.

“Most people come to any interaction with quite good motives.” Dr. Hollifield told the guests. “Their behaviors may not be what you want them to be,” she added, “but their general motive is that they are trying instrumentally to achieve something.

“One of the most important things you can do is try to understand what that individual is trying to achieve,” she advised the guests.

Dr. Hollifield was calling on her research and teaching expertise in media management to suggest to the public relations specialists that there are ways to work effectively with journalists.

She advised them not to always say “no” to journalists but to try to find areas where they can be helpful so that a relationship of trust and mutual understanding develops.

Dr. Hollifield was one of two panelists assembled by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia to meet with the Kenyan delegation, traveling as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

The other panelist was Dr. Bryan Reber, who reviewed for the visitors research in the U.S. that showed that journalists and public relations practitioners sometimes overestimate the amount of conflict between them.

Journalists and public relations practitioners agree that showing people in a positive light is not so important in news, Dr. Reber said, but journalists think there is a disagreement on this issue.

Research shows that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of the news in the U.S. is shaped in some way by public relations, Dr. Reber said.

“That doesn’t mean that public relations generates it,” he said. “It may. It does mean that public relations maybe suggested a story, or set up an interview or provides background material.”

Dr. Hollifield is a faculty member in the Department of Journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. Dr. Reber is a faculty member in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. Dr. Reber also is assistant department head for the Department of Advertising and Public Relations.

Kenyan Delegation in session with Drs. Bryan Reber and C. Ann Hollifield.

The Kenyan delegation consisted of nine members of the communication staff of the presidency, deputy presidency, and office of the First Lady of Kenya.

The Georgia Council for International Visitors organized their four-day visit to Georgia. Prior to arriving in Georgia, the group had traveled to Washington, D.C. and Albany, N.Y. for a week.

Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox International Center, served as moderator for the panel. Dr. Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Center, gave the group a tour of the Grady College prior to the panel session and joined the group for lunch following that session.

The Cox Center is an international outreach unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The Kenyan participants were:

Alex Kazungu Chai, chief information officer, The Presidency; Munira Yusuf Issa, press director, The Presidency; Bethuel Jackson Kaino, information officer, Office of the Deputy President; Joanne Njeri Kiarie, advisor to the spokesperson, The Presidency; Julius Maina Kigaga, communications director, Office of the First Lady; Grace Waleghwa Mwandware, media liason, The Presidency; Sammy Kobia Mwirichia, information officer, The Presidency; Martin Kundu Telewa, photo journalist, Office of the Deputy President; and Anne Wanjiku Waithera, communications officer, The Presidency.