The two-day international forum seeks to create the next generation
of government communication leaders
The ninth edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2020) commenced yesterday ( 4 March) with specialised workshops, forums and in-depth sessions hosted by world-renowned communications professionals, providing students and amateurs a golden opportunity to learn from experts and gain first-hand knowledge. Being held at the Sharjah Expo Centre, the two-day forum is hosting expert-led sessions targeting students, journalists, photojournalists and government communication employees.
The sessions sought to enhance government communication in the UAE and the Arab world and to foster communication channels among the governments and communities.
Two training workshops for students titled ‘Innovation in the field of Government Communication’ by Dr Sheren Ali Mousa, Faculty Member at the College of Mass Communication, Ajman University and ‘Analysing Communication Research Data’ conducted by Dr Ahmed Farouk, Faculty Member at the Public Relations Department, College of Communication, University of Sharjah, were attended by a good number of students and communication professionals.
The first workshop enabled participants to create dedicated government communication programmes and impactful government communication messages. The second workshop, ‘Analysing Communication Research Data’, introduced participants to the tools and methods of analysing data in government surveys and opinion pollsthat will provide them with the skills needed to manage statistics in the field of data analysis.
During her session, Dr Sheren Ali Mousa, said, “Challenges that we face create an opportunity for innovation. The challenges, therefore, should be seen as a sign to innovate, whether they are part of your personal or professional life.”
She informed participants about how innovative thinking can help enhance the entire communication process and lead to effective results, noting, “success of an innovative idea essentially depends on how effective your groundwork is and how well you have evaluated the benefits and risks of your idea.”
Dr Kai Chan, an expert in Data Analysis and a founder and partner at Aiowala Technologies, a Montreal-based AI Company, led a training session on ‘Communication Treasures Extracted from Data Piles’ to foster government-public engagement based on a deep understanding of customer experience. During the workshop, Dr Kai Chan highlighted the need to use tailor-made messages derived for an understanding of data.
He said, “You need to think about the message - one is reactive other is proactive. if you know your target, you can be a better communicator.” Dr Chan also noted that communication must be seen as a channel of innovation and how governments across the world have started using data to deliver more effective and targeted public services.
“With the right use of data, you can have innovative communication and instigate a loop of positive feedbacks. Governments across the world are now using public sector data to in public sector services,” he added.
The workshop was designed to introduce participants to benefits of collecting and analysing data pertaining to customers’ experience in order to enable organisations to anticipate and manage public expectations, respond to their requests and inquiries, and maintain a close and interactive relationship with them. Participants explored innovative ways of finding opportunities buried in piles of data, discussed how to avoid negative feedback on social media platforms, and re-examined processes, procedures and services to place communication at the forefront of strategies to help organisations better understand their stakeholders.
Additionally, a Youth Forum was held in collaboration with the Arab Youth Centre and Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating Future Leaders and Innovators. The forum facilitated interaction between the UAE’s youth and the session’s moderators, Mariam Saeed Al-Naqbi, scriptwriter and presenter, Sharjah Broadcasting Corporation/ Sharqiya Kalba TV; and Marwan Al-Shehhi, TV Presenter at Sama Dubai TV. During the forum, young communications professionals highlighted the important role of government communication in supporting and stimulating the aspirations of the youth.
Reporters, media personalities, and social media influencers gathered in a session titled ‘Government Communication and the Aspiration of Youth’, held at the Youth Forum, on the first day of the 9th edition of the International Government Communication Forum, to discuss the implications of the rise of an increasingly social media reliant world, and influencers, on traditional media.
Traditional media is facing several challenges with the rise of new communication methods, which often present a high level of transparency, but lacks the credibility held by traditional print and broadcast outlets, one participant stated.
Another participant, a Sharjah Radio presenter, said that although content must adhere to formal language and cultural norms and traditions, it must also be presented in a way that appeals to a large, young,
multinational audience, without having to compromise a nation’s values and shared identity.
IGCF 2020 has brought together 64 leading global thinkers, top government officials and communication experts from 16 countries around the world who are leading discussions and debates across 57 diversified events. The forum concludes today (Thursday).