IGCF 2020 in Sharjah. The latest edition in 2021 will be held from September 26 to 27. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Governments need a strategy to fight disinformation and build public trust, a senior official said ahead of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), to be held from September 26 to 27 in Sharjah.

Jawaher Al Naqbi, manager of Sharjah-based International Government Communication Centre, said a credible communications strategy based on transparency and trust between governments and the public is vital. She added that emerging communication technologies could spur a wave of disinformation that undermines trust and amplifies fears.

Six pillars for strategy

Jawaher Al Naqbi

Al Naqbi outlined six key pillars for such a strategy, starting with the adoption of scientifically-backed methodologies to increase both effectiveness and reach of the message. She also highlighted that relying on in-depth research and studies that assess the public’s mood, needs, ambitions, demographics, and education levels.

Effective mediums

Al Naqbi pointed out the importance of choosing the right medium to reach the target audience. She explained that, for instance, communication targeting youth and young adults would need to utilise social media and other digital platforms rather than the print medium.

Analysing public opinion

The third pillar discussed by Al Naqbi underscored the importance of using scientific tools to analyse public opinion and mood. She explained that addressing the public without being sensitive to their needs and expectations will only yield “null results”.

Open dialogue

Underlining that interaction on social media platforms was insufficient to strengthen the relationship between government entities and the public, Al Naqbi pointed out that the fourth pillar of effective communication calls for a direct engagement between public entities and civil society institutions that represent diverse community segments.

Building trust

Building trust in government communication teams should run parallel with the act of boosting the public image of both the state and society, she said. Erosion of trust will negatively impact the relationship between governments and communities and widen gaps in effective communication with the public, especially during a crisis.

Partnering with media

Al Naqbi cited the role of the media as the sixth pillar of an effective communications strategy. Governments must aim for a positive relationship with the media to better communicate with the public and build legitimacy for their decisions

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IGCF 2021

Al Naqbi called on the private and public sector, media, and those interested in government communications to attend the 10th edition of the forum, organised by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), under the theme, ‘Historic lessons, Future ambitions’ at Expo Centre Sharjah.