The World Bank had a 5-year Program between 2006 and 2011 called the CommGAP (Communication for Governance and Accountability Program). It was aimed at providing government officials the required assistance to enable them to build “public spheres” on the one hand, and to use communication in governance reform programs. Now, what are public spheres, you might ask, and rightly so!. Well, it is the application of communication approaches by amplifying citizen voice, promotion free, independent and plural media systems in a bid to help governments communicate better with their citizens. Personally, I find that to be a rather tall order, especially when the communication has to be initiated by the authorities. We all know how much political leaders love to hear the sound of their own voice and it only takes enough patience – if you can muster it – to sit through one televised debate session between two or more politicians of different – not necessarily opposed parties – to understand that no matter how much money the UK’s Department for International Development was going to inject into this program, this initiative would not be able to cover more than a fraction of the world’s countries, all of which require such initiatives on an individual level and for those individual initiatives to be monitored, guided and assisted by this one. In the 37 events which were organised through this program, seven events (19%) were held outside the United States, and 78% were held in Washington. With such close attention being paid to centralising the decision making process, there evidently is a disconnect between the preachings and the practices – even though the silver lining around that cloud could be the fact that the organisations involved were active in other countries – but were mainly headquartered in the USA or the western world – as if to say, “if you want our money to learn to communicate better amongst yourselves, then you either have to be connected with one of us, for reasons of credibility, or have to come and sell yourselves to us on our turf.” Put in simpler words and loosely translated from Luxembourgish: “What a farmer does not know, he shall not eat.” In the unforgettable sagacious words of Hope (n.d.) “A bank is a place that will lend you money if you prove that you don’t need it.” and Frost (n.d.) “A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain.” And this holds true for all financial institutions which fall under the definition of “a bank”.
CommGAP may well have been a commendable initiative which deserved it’s share of applaud for the noble objectives set forth when it all started, but banks being run by humans, they do reflect their mindset and their approach as well as their prerogatives and priorities. The usual excuse is, “we live in a capitalist society” or “in our day and age, there is no such thing as a “free” anything”. My question is: who is to be held responsible for that? There could only be one answer to that: the west – Europe and everywhere the European has gone: to the American continent, the African continent, the Australian continent. In other words, greed has been spread by the greedy, capitalist initiator and spread by the industrial revolution in the name of progress and civilisation.
Part of civilisation is communication: and progress in communication has taken us to the point of preferring to speak to each other face-to-face via devices such as smartphones, tablets and screens of some sort or the other. I do not advocate the abandoning of all progress, but knowing that you can make the best of the presence of the other in the present moment than to try to catch hold of them through trnasparent screen walls of your own making. What is more, these walls are getting thinner and their sound proofing exponentially better with every passing generation! So much so, that the resulting silence is increasingly deafening and people have to resort to “invade your privacy” in order to know more about you.
Mandeya (2015) advocates working “inside-out” in a bid to project a vibrant image of your brand as he submits that “t is the internal audience that gives that unique expression of who you are as an organisation” (Ibid). He even points out that “Communication is the lifeline of an organisation (…) poor communication affects an organisation’s operations and hinders it from achieving its goals.”
It is therefore increasingly important, in our day and age, when communication is the basis of a (physical or moral) person’s existence, and that it is increasingly difficult for smaller organisations and the vast majority amongst us to control, not only is it important to make conscious efforts aimed at projecting our brand in a positive light, but also to prevent giving lieu to any dependency whereby the above-mentioned brand may be in danger of being soiled with an indellible stain of disrepute.
Let’s all resolve to make a conscious effort towards ensuring and maintaining that our own brand and that of those who are closest to us remain as pure, immaculate and clean as the proverbial “driven snow”. And unlike most other resolutions made in the beginning of previous years, do something tangible everyday to consciously see to it that our brand (name) avoids disrepute like a triple glazed window prevents us from being affected by the bitterness bite of a cold wind.
R. Mandeya,(2015),”The Power of Branding the Human Capital”, Zimbabwe Independent, available at http://www.theindependent.co.zw/2015/01/09/power-branding-human-capital/ accessed on 15.1.2015