Being a spokesman

Last October 21, during the town hall meeting with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar and Assistant Secretary Kristian Ablan, held at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai, I asked the secretary as to who are the key officials who can confirm the authenticity of President Duterte’s pronouncements. He said that the presidential spokesman, at that time Ernesto Abella, would be the only person who can do so because of the very nature of his designation.

Fast forward, a week after, on October 28, 2017, President Duterte announced that he has appointed partylist Representative and former human rights lawyer Harry Roque as his new spokesman. “It is in the messaging. We cannot speak with the same words altogether, but how he would convey the message from me is the most important,” declared the president.

According to Wikipedia, a spokesman, spokeswoman or spokesperson is someone engaged or elected to speak on behalf of others. I remember this simple communication process, which I learned at the Graduate Studies Department of the College of Mass Communications at UP Diliman: Who Says What in Which Channel to Whom with What Effect.

As a PR practitioner, I always propose that the spokesman of any entity – be it corporate, organization or government – should have the credibility as a person representing the entity. This is crucial for the acceptance of the message being conveyed by him or her. It would be ridiculous if you have someone as spokesperson promoting healthy living and sporting activities who is overweight (pardon me dear readers but I am overweight, too). In this case the message would not come out strongly, much more the desired effect not being felt.

I had my opportunity to be a spokesman when I was with ABS-CBN Middle East from 2005 to 2007 when I managed corporate communications over and above my primary designation as senior manager for sales and marketing. I had been interviewed by Gulf News, 7 Days, The Gulf Today, The Peninsula, Bahrain Tribune, Arab News, Kuwait Times and Dubai Eye 103.8 FM. The issues were varied from the premiere showing of ‘Dubai’, the TFC Pop Star regional finals, the hacking of the TFC channel, and the Rakrakan concert.

I was also interviewed by a tabloid in the Philippines when I was in Manila on official assignment, as well as appeared on the Kuwentong Disyerto show, which was aired live on TFC. Did I do well being the spokesman of ABS-CBN Middle East? Deep in my heart I know I did well because I embraced the ‘kapamilya culture’ where I am friends with everyone wherever I travel in the Middle East. If you promote something, then you have to believe in the values of the entity you are connected with.

When I was the chairman of the Philippine Independence Day (PID) Executive Committee in 2008, I was the spokesman of the group of like-minded community leaders and selfless volunteers. Being the head of any entity and, at the same time, being the spokesman is the most effective and credible situation in conveying a message. The target audience will definitely give a positive feedback by supporting or patronizing your products/services or causes.

Back to the town hall meeting, Secretary Andanar and Assistant Secretary Ablan said that we should visit these sites – www.pcoo.gov.ph; www.foi.gov.ph; www.facebook.com/foiph/ – to know what the various Philippine government departments are doing in serving the Filipino people.

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