By SARATI Richard
Our university is known to produce the best journalism, media and communications professionals. Ironically, the university lacks a communications department. The rumor methodology works best here to the extent that some students have concluded that rumors in this campus eventually become the truth. It is no wonder in times of crisis the university has always suffered a public relations flop. Take for example what has been going on in the last couple of weeks. All security eyes have been focused on our campus. Unfortunately, the people who had the answers were also staring out helplessly.
The students have been left to the mercies of social media and the national media. Moi University should come up with a strong communication office that will be acting as her mouthpiece. This office will communicate both to the university community, academic partners, stakeholders and the public at large. The level of rumors would be reduced though rumors seldom die. Current situation is whereby nobody knows who should be making official statement on behalf of the university. We have had scenarios where the deputy vice chancellor academics, research and extension issues a memo whose main message contradicts what had been issued before by other officers. The office of the deputy chancellor Students’ affairs has had also the same challenge with issuing out directives that have contradicted those of MUSO.
Back to the times of crisis we have seen the vice chancellor himself come out to speak though very late. The reaction by our administration has provided fodder for national media and social media for days. The world has been watching us as we reacted to eventualities. We agree that the vice chancellor is the head of this noble institution, but, some responsibilities need to be relegated to a department with capacity. This is the department that will be responsible with issuing press briefing to the media and advising our administrators on how to speak to the media. It will also save the university the tainted image it gets when mainstream media crowd sources news about the institution from the social media.
The communication department will also be responsible for arranging social responsibility activities that will build the positive perception of the communities around it and beyond. This will save the institution a lot of cash used in advertising its courses in the mainstream media. The masses would have been reached at their doorsteps. It has been overheard that the university has been doing so well in Agricultural Society of Kenya Shows. Can this be duplicated to form a well-structured department that will do the PR all year round?
Staff in the Information Communication and Technologies department have been hailed to be doing a good job especially in connection with the online room booking. To an extent posting some updates on the university’s website and social media. Unfortunately both platforms are dumb, they don’t engage with the perceived audience. The sites have turned to posting what the vice chancellor has been up to especially signing a memorandum of understanding with another institution or agency. The I and C in the ICT are silent.