Staying informed could take you places

Good communication is one of the most important aspects in the running of an organisation. It cannot be left to any member of an organisation who has something to air; it is a function of an office meant to specifically handle communication. At Rwanda Housing Authority, that office is held by Doreen Sheila Nice. Collins Mwai caught up with her to understand more about her line of work.

Good communication is one of the most important aspects in the running of an organisation. It cannot be left to any member of an organisation who has something to air; it is a function of an office meant to specifically handle communication. At Rwanda Housing Authority, that office is held by Doreen Sheila Nice. Collins Mwai caught up with her to understand more about her line of work.

As communications and public relations officer, what tasks fill your day?

I’m responsible for the organisation’s communication through various platforms to different audiences like the media and our partners. I organise press conferences, write press releases, design advertisements and at times draft speeches. The communiqués have to be simple, specific, short and credible.

It is also my duty to receive and analyse information meant for the organisation. I also sit in management meetings and take minutes, not forgetting events planning and management.

What training do I need to qualify for the job?

I hold a degree in Business Management and also a diploma in journalism. It is also possible for one to pursue a course in public relations. Journalism helped me to learn about communication ethics.

In high school, I majored in History, Economics and Divinity. Humanities are a good combination for students who wish to join the profession since they involve a lot of knowledge gathering.

How about non-academic requirements?

You should be able to handle diversity with ease.  It helps a lot if you are friendly and can deal well with people.

Creativity is also important for you to be able to structure information and messages for public consumption. Frequent reading of non academic material keeps you informed and creative.

You have been a communications manager for a while, what emerging trends have you observed?

With the emergence of social media, communications and public relations officers have a new task to handle social media accounts of their organisations.

Unlike in the past it is now important for a communications officer to have knowledge in other fields like photography or page designing for them to communicate clearly.

What are the highlights in this line of work?

It makes me glad to know that the public is well informed for them to have adequate information to make better decisions. I also meet a lot of people on a daily basis while collecting and sending information which improves me as a social being.

There must be some storms though, right?

Of course, there are. At times people don’t recognise the office; its importance and fail to provide or pass information. One should also expect to work around tight deadlines especially when organising events. You can be called to respond to an emergency anytime.

Where do the communication/ public relations officers sit in the organisation’s hierarchy?

It depends on the organisation, but in my case, I answer to the director general. 

How does one advance in this line of work?

It is mostly by experience, academics are mostly theoretical, but it is by working that you know what works how and what doesn’t. You learn to deal with different situations and handle different audiences. But going further academically has never been wrong; I am also currently pursuing a Masters degree.

How are you working hours?

Normal working hours are seven to five, but one is always on call; you can be called up at any time when there is an emergency.

What traits could bring down a holder of your office?

Lack of integrity, the moment you begin to give half truths, you risk the image of your organisation and you betray public trust.

To be an effective communicator, you need to be a good listener, gatherer of information and a creative person.

A word to those interested in the profession?

Communication management is very interesting; I have been through several other careers but have found none like communication. It sharpens your mind; you get to see a side of things few get to see. To get a place in this line of work, read as often as you can, read whatever you can lay your hands on, text books, journals, magazines, etc.

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