Managing the President’s Communication – Bolaji Okusaga

Managing the President’s Communication – Bolaji Okusaga -
L-R: Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, President Muhammadu Buhari and Mark Zuckerberg –

Managing the President’s Communication Need for the Creation of an Information and Communications Directorate

“Smooth communications operations are hard to come by, because they must handle short-term, nuts and bolts emergencies as well as long-term, policy-oriented campaigns. Each poses different demands on the lifestyle and governing style of a president.” – Martha Joynt Kumar (Managing the Presidential Communication, 2007)


Corruption The need to communicate progress made with combating corruption. Insurgency Push to rid the North East and South-South of Insurgents and help stabilize the polity Economy With falling Oil prices, the Economy is under strain, giving rise to call for diversification Local Politics Need to capture the popular imagination and give vent to impactful policies and legislations Foreign Relations Restore our pride on the African Continent and launch Nigeria as a global leader Communicating the President’s Message – Key Issues

Engendering a Communication Culture Presidency Politics and Policies Stakeholder Alignment Local and Global Agenda

Why a Communications Directorate? Ensuring Access Ensure ease of accessibility through effective structure and process Engender Right Connections Understand and tap into fears of politics and policy fears Work in alliance with media directorate to fine- tune position and improve outcomes Bridge Gap between Policy Objectives and Public Perception Create a communications structure within the Presidency that seeks out communications opportunities and prepares as appropriate Entrench and sustain a platform for communications management

Process and Procedure

Key Objective Prop Image, shape reputation and Promote President’s Agenda Develop tight communication protocol around the President and by extension, the Presidency Influence the Communication of Policy Agenda by sharing best practice, benchmarking information and by escalating concerns. Key Activities of the Communications Directorate:

  1. Scan Political and Policy Environment
  2. Identify Critical Communication Opportunities
  3. Analyze the Issues
  4. Prime and Prepare the President
  5. Set Communication Goals
  6. Develop Message
  7. Manage Communications Process
  8. Work with Media Directorate to Agree Deployment
  9. Conduct Surveys and post communications Evaluation

From Scanning the Environment to Strategy Development Set-up • Structure to work with a Research, Polling and Policy Advisory Unit Structure • Environmental Scanning and Issues Audit • Communications Preparation • Communications Cycle Planning • Message Development Service • Communication Research /Perception Studies – Polling • Media Training / Advisory to the President • Communications Strategy and Message Development • Communication Impact Assessment

Identify Critical Communication Points Reform Agenda What are the appropriate messages to send? What are the most effective communication tools to use? Obstacles Who are the audiences we should target? What are other groups saying or doing? Opportunities Which messages work better for which audiences? How do we ensure arrival?

Analyzing the Issues The communication team will use secondary and primary research to analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis). Dimensioning the Issues The Communication Team will use research to identify potential allies and adversaries, and determine how that information fits into opportunities or threats. Identifying Allies and Adversaries

Goal Setting Moving from Strategy to Action Helps guide implementation Provide basis for connection with critical constituencies and communities Enables Government to monitor progress and evaluate results

Message Development Message Vs. Target What are the best messages for each target audiences? Communication Tactics What are the best Communication tactics to deliver those messages to those audiences? Communication Cycle Day 1, Day 2-7 and Week 2-4 messages.

Process Management • President as key Spokesperson with other critical spokesmen TRAINING OF SPOKESPERSONS • Staff are to brain- storm all possible incidents that may snowball into a crisis situation INCIDENCE MANAGEMENT • Strict communication protocols to be observed in all situations COMMUNICATIONS PROTOCOL

Communication Preparedness Process Interrogation Meetings with Media Directorate Weekly Process Interrogation Meetings with Media Directorate to determine level of communications preparedness Consider Flash Points Look at critical process issues and flashpoints Identify potential Issues or operational hitches Plot their Probability Factor and Impact Value.

Communicating the Message The Communication Directorate will document all decisions and incorporate them into an Action Plan. Action-Plan will spell out which staff members are responsible for which actions Action-Plan will include sequence of Communication and possible scripts of the encounter The Policy must outline a primary contact to begin putting the Policy into action.


Anti- Corruption Government’s Programmes Decisions Infrastructure Economy Jobs Creation National Orientation Foreign Policy Obtaining People Support Legislative Backing Policy Intervention Insurgency Actions Taken Key Focus The Economy Communicating Government’s Actions and Intentions Treasury Single Account Setting Up of an Anti- Corruption Committee Buoying the Efficiency Process Tax Legislations Underway

Route to Market STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT ISSUES MANAGEMENT REPUTATION MANAGEMENT MESSAGE DEVELOPMENT President Nigeria Increase visibility in local communities, Media and Business Boost interaction with key thought leaders and groups, Manage the communication of policy oriented issues Develop information for Media Directorate’s dissemination

Push for Cut-Through Communication To Inform Relevant Stakeholders Local: Political and Economic Global: World Leaders and Development Partners To Communicate Clear and Impactful Messages To the Nigerians and watchers of Nigeria Build Bridge between Presidential Politics and Policies Clarity Absence of Fluff

Targeting Stakeholders Legislators Analysts Media Opinion Leaders Market Clusters Local Communities Business Community Local Constituents Vital to our approach are four things: I. Understanding the Stakeholder II. Keeping an updated lists of stakeholders III. Working with Media Directorate to Manage the Communication Encounter IV. Having tight follow-up Strategies

Forward Planning Creation of communication protocols and cycle plans Right Medium Target those who need to Know Consistency of Message One Talking Head Scripted Communication Follow Through On Key Message On Media Engagements Strategy

Message / Spokesperson Training Equip President /Spokespeople with key messages through intensive media message training programme High-light key issues Develop and implement an issues-based Communications Strategy Ensure President Nigeria has an authoritative voice amongst key stakeholders

Set-up a Communications Directorate for Strategy, Communications Preparation and Forward Planning •Understand the Issues •Bring on board broad strategy •Prepare Messaging and Cycle Plans Retention of the Media and Information Directorate •Management of Media and Briefings •Management of Press Office •Media Gate-keeping Tactics

Supporting President Communication COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTORATE • Issues Identification / Strategy Development • Polling and Issues Audit • Communications Strategy Development • Preparation • Message Development • Media Trainings • Messaging • Holding Statements • FAQ’s • Proactive • Rebuttals • Affirmations MEDIA AND INFORMATION DIRECTORATE • Releases from President Nigeria • Announcement of new developments • Pitching Stories • News Releases • Organisation of Briefing Sessions with Journalists • Announcement of new developments • Pitching Stories Broad Framework

Doers and Runners Professionals Special Advisers (Political Appointee) Senior Special Adviser (Political Appointee) Director General (Professional) Director, Communications Directorate Head, Content Head, Platforms Director, Media and Information Directorate News Agency of Nigeria Structure

Extending the Influence Stakeholder Management Policy Engagement Presidential Profiling Strategy and Preparation Media Tours On and Offline Media Engagements Outreach Campaign Education Campaign Endorsement Campaign Policy Marketing Implementation

Please also read: Flying On the Wings of Nigeria

“Today, effective presidential communications requires the chief executive to put together an organization capable of arranging his publicity. He needs to have an organization behind him that is capable of crafting messages for the public and then of managing those messages in a way that appeals to the public he is interested in reaching.” Martha Joynt Kumar (Managing the Presidential Communication, 2007).

Thank you.