Efficient PR is vital for any government
Governments in free societies worldwide often stumble badly when they fail to keep good public relations as a priority. Bermuda is no exception and we have seen governments over the years fall short in the crucial area of public relations. This is a significant challenge in an environment with a history of social injustice that has resulted in a trail of divisiveness that haunts efforts to have a more unified approach in dealing with complex issues of the day.
The people are fully aware that there will be no miracles that will turn the country overnight into a utopia where the economic gravy train will arrive with bundles for all. Before general elections in most countries, the political climate usually bubbles with promises from political groups, as they struggle to win favour with the electorate at the polls. That is a healthy part of democracy, no matter how heated words can become, when at stake is whether one party will retain power, or whether the door will swing open for a change in leadership.
Critically important throughout this process is that irrespective as to what politicians in government or those in opposition think or feel, in the end, it will boil down to how well either group has managed to tap into the soul of the community — people in all areas of public life — to determine who emerges with the most support.
The Progressive Labour Party was able to circumvent a number of obstacles including reports from the Auditor-General’s Chambers about questionable handling of the public purse. The new PLP government appears to be sending signals that its administration will be committed to accountability. Much of that will depend on transparency and ensuring that the people are well informed so as to avoid any lack of confidence from the public.
The former One Bermuda Alliance government, now the Opposition, which a number of observers have given credit for dealing well with a grave economic situation when it took office in December 2012, somehow was able to improve the economy. But, along the way, it lost touch with the soul of the community and this may have been a result of a breakdown in public relations.
This is a sensitive area for all governments serving the people under democratic principles. The people need to feel connected. The new Premier, David Burt, should be given credit for attempting to thread the diplomatic needle carefully in presenting initiatives he hopes his PLP government will implement as they set about the business of tackling a number of issues affecting community life. The Premier is undoubtedly aware that it will take more than encouraging words to move the island forward for all Bermudians.
Every government is confronted at times with situations that overrun projections, and this is when they are tested for absolute transparency in keeping the people informed about the facts involved. It is never an easy path.
Too often the media, who are duty-bound to report on various issues, are blamed for highlighting something the Government should have been out front with in the first place. That is not uniquely a Bermuda problem; it happens around the world even with leading nations.
Those who understand journalism know reporters should never be public relations officers for any group, as their responsibility is to reveal truth to inform accurately.
In every society there are always those who disagree with the Government, no matter what they do, and that also is a sad reality. However, most people who respect decency and transparency are willing to give those in authority a fair opportunity, knowing they may not be perfect. But if they display commitment to good community values, they should be given support.
The new government is obviously aware that speculation about items not on its immediate agenda, such as talk of seeking independence, needed to be quelled quickly to avoid the perception of hidden motives. Not a good thing for any government.
Every society has people who simply look to find fault. We are no exception. This is not a time to look for things to complain about. The main thrust should be to encourage both the Government and the Opposition to find ways of solving problems in a better spirit of co-operation.
That would improve public relations for all and perhaps lead to a better Bermuda.
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