By Tony Eluemunor
Mr. Shuaibu’s write up, “Air Peace, Kano Emir and unwarranted attacks” (Vanguard online, of March 4, this year) began with this unfortunate intro: “Beyond theory, strategic communication doesn’t seek publicity in whatever ways through the media.
It considers the dynamics of the environment, the target audiences, their behaviours, and trending issues for effective messaging.”
Please note that Mr. Shaibu considers himself some expert in strategic communication, for this appeared under his article:“Yushau A. Shuaibu is the author of ‘Award-Winning Crisis Communication Strategies’” So, it was not surprising that his, very second sentence in his article continued with his public education services: “Sincerely, Creative thinking is crucial in strategic communication, towards offering better ideas, and sound judgment in responding to issues in the most responsible manner.”
Unfortunately, the article was just a fatuous presentation of an airline’s justified refusal to dance to the dictates of someone who felt his principal deserved more respect than he got. Finish.
My initial reaction was to borrow from Fela the late musician’s repertoire and stamp “TEACHER, DON’T TEACH ME NONSENSE” repeatedly across this column.
First of all, Mr. Shuaibu failed to say what Air Peace should have done to meet the demands of “Strategic Communication” in its spat with an aide of the Emir of Kano, apart from the nasty advice that the airline should have played dead: “Sometimes silence can be golden in strategic communication. Weighing a situation very carefully before venturing a statement is essential, rather than the haste for justification that can unnecessarily escalate a crisis.
Spokespersons should realise that PR is not about issuing boisterous and confrontational releases but the creation of channels of mutual understanding, in a way that strengthens and further builds relationships.”
To Mr. Shuaibu, it appears that an Emir can do no wrong. Finish! And so, Air Peace should have accepted all the blame being leveled on it by the palace. In fact, Mr. Yushau Shuaib left a lot of slip-ups in this article that placed even himself in a poor light.
Gaffe number one; he wrote “Sometime in 2021, my mother was denied boarding on an Air Peace plane going from Ilorin to Abuja, even though she was among the first set of passengers who arrived at the airport very early that morning. Apart from frustrating her attempt to board the aircraft, the airline further charged her exorbitantly for the use of the same ticket for the next day’s flight.”
That is a severe charge against an airline. A few sentences later this appeared: “Mama came early but was on the wrong queue at a counter of another airline. By the time she realised the mistake, the Air Peace Counter had been closed.” Yet, Shuaibu still wrote in that article of March 4th: “Sometime in 2021, my mother was denied boarding on an Air Peace plane.” DENIED? Haba, Mallam, haba.
Second gaffe: Shuaibu wrote: “Thus, it was quite shocking when the same airline was reported to have treated the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, unfairly by not enabling him and his entourage the opportunity of taking a connecting local flight from Lagos to Kano, after having initially created a situation that led to the delay of his international flight, on another Air Peace aircraft from Banjul to Lagos.” I searched his article in vain to see Shuaibu pinpoint how Air Peace treated the Emir “unfairly.”
Third gaffe from Shuaibu: “The Chief Protocol Officer to the Emir, Isa Bayero thereafter wrote a letter of complaint to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), seeking punitive actions against Air Peace Airline for missing their connecting flight. The leaked letter attracted needless attacks and counterattacks between the admirers of the Emir of Kano and supporters of Air Peace.
What really is wrong with Shuaibu the “strategic communications expert?” The article was aimed at showing how wrong Air Peace was in misapplying the dictates of Strategic Communications in telling its own side of the story as it pertains to the complaints an aide of the Emir of Kano levelled against it. Why should Air Peace be blamed for the views of the public? And should such views be disdained? Or does Shuaibu think that the Emir or an airline is beyond the appraisal of what is known all over the world as public opinion? Haba, Mallam, haba! And may someone please tell this strategic communication expert that “feedback” is important in the communication mix.
Shuaibu’s fourth gaffe:”The so-called leaked memo from the palace to the NCAA, which has attracted all the unnecessary bickering and unwarranted attacks, ought to have been handled more professionally and strategically from the outset of the situation.”
Common, dear, dear Shuaibu, why did you not say how the Airline erred in its public statement? Should there have been a memo from the palace to the NCCA in the first place? Remember you have failed to say in which way the airline erred in its actions, especially in its refusal to delay its flight already primed for takeoff for just an individual, and also you didn’t say how it erred in its statement.
Shuiabu’s fifth gaffe: “Spokespersons should realise that PR is not about issuing boisterous and confrontational releases” but the creation of channels of mutual understanding, in a way that strengthens and further builds relationships.” Nothing in Air Peace’ statement was “boisterous or confrontational.”
The author talked about PR. So, someone should tell Shuaibu that “PR professionals work within one specific area of strategic communication: the maintenance of a positive relationship between an employer and the community. They do this through the use of public-facing communication, such as press releases, special events, speeches, and social media” (Wikipedia can teach him this). And Air Peace’ statement was respectful (to its reputable client, the Emir).
The highfalutin Strategic Communication term refers to policy-making and guidance for consistent information activity within an organisation and between organisations. Equivalent business management terms are: integrated (marketing) communication, organizational communication, corporate communication, institutional communication.
Finish! Effective messaging?
Here, I pay homage to Prof Adidi Uyo, who taught my Mass Comm Post Graduate class at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, in the mid 80’s that “some kinds of communication on some kinds of issues, brought to the attention of some kinds of people under certain kinds of conditions have some kinds of effects” (Berelson, 1948, p. 172).
So, communicators have to find the most effective ways to communicate with the public. Shuaibu has to learn this lesson; his teaching was awful and the sentiments he raised about traditional stools in this age seemed anachronistic. That was ineffective messaging and I say, “teacher, don’t teach me nonsense.”