Change your Words, Change your World: Bihar DPROs learn about creative communications
By Nipurnh Gupta
PATNA, 2 December, 2011 – November 2011 ended on a note of novelty for State government’s Information and Public Relations Officers in India’s northern state of Bihar.
They had a go at learning magic -- `the magic of 3’ and `the magic of 5’.
“From now on, I will keep my communication focussed on three key ideas, said Lokesh Kumar Jha, District Public Relations Officer from Siwan.
“And I will try to use five letters in a word, five words in a sentence and five sentences in a paragraph,’ added his colleague, Anant Kumar, DPRO, Madhepura.
“Small is good. The magic lies in short, sharp and simple messages. Only when people remember the message, will they use it. And this will set in the process of change,” echoed their other colleagues participating in a two-day workshop titled ‘Communicate Creatively, Bring Change’.
The workshop was organised by the Information and Public Relations Department (IPRD), Government of Bihar, with support from UNICEF Office for Bihar on 29-30 November, 2011 at the state capital, Patna.
Linking the Government with People
DPROs are the key link between the government and people and “writing is their bread and butter,” explains Mr Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, IPRD, Government of Bihar.
Whether it is developing press releases, posters, advertisements or exhibitions, DPROs need to constantly build their awareness and skills.
The challenge before them is to mix the message and the media appropriately, to be able to create an impact.
For the government departments for whom they act as spokepersons, it is important that the information they disseminate, be it about the `Government’s Report card, `Inauguration of a hospital’ or ` Bicycle Scheme for Girls’ strikes the right chord with people.
UNICEF has been supporting the IPRD and media persons in the state in building their skills and understanding on thematic areas like child rights, social inclusion, health, education, HIV, and technical areas such as communication, through workshops and interactions.
Inaugurating the workshop, the State Information and Public Relations Minister, Mr Brishin Patel, urged the IPRD officials to reach out to the rural, remote people in the state to make them aware of the development schemes, laws and policies of government.
“Knowledge about their rights and entitlements can help transform lives of vulnerable and marginalised communities, especially children and women,” highlighted UNICEF Bihar Chief, Dr Yameen Mazumder.
And how this could be achieved by communicating creatively formed the focus of the two-day deliberations which were facilitated very interestingly by resource persons, Pravin Mishra, communication designer and Pramod Joshi, veteran journalist along with UNICEF and IPRD Bihar officials.
Communicating creatively for change
Using cases studies, short films and presentations, the resource persons engaged the DPROs, a mix of new-entrants and old-timers, in learning about the essentials of public communication and media relations. They shared insights and tips on working with different communication formats and channels -- from print to audio-visual to web, within the context of their day to day work in a typical district of Bihar.
The participants, together with resource persons, analysed several press releases, advertisements, hoardings and posters, to understand the `good and bad in public communication’ and the `what, why and how of a good design, copy writing and media relations.’
During hands-on group-work, they developed slogans, headlines and success-stories. “I had no idea that coining slogans could be done in such a scientific and participatory way, exclaimed Yogendra Kumar Lal, DPRO, from Araria, after trialling the `brainstorming technique’ with his colleagues.
Enthused and motivated, the group came up with catchy slogans for the recently launched State Health Guarantee Scheme for school children. “We are confident, some of these will pass muster and will soon be seen in our posters and advertisements,” shared one participant.
`Reduce, Reuse, Recall’ was another mantra, which the participants learnt about effective communication.
“Being creative is about being simple, and being able to connect with people to get our message across. This workshop has helped us see things in a new perspective,” shared Ram Badan Barua, DPRO-cum editor, Patna. “This will help us become more effective as communicators,” he added. “And hopefully, lead to change in the lives of children and their communities.”