Practices, Opportunities and Challenges of Public Relations in Gambella National Regional State: The Case of Selected Bureaus

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The main objective of this study is to examine practices, opportunities and challenges of PRs in Gambella national regional state (GNRS) bureaus by focusing on how the PRs practices has been handled so as to improve the regional communication practices towards enhancing its development efforts, and to better help the improvement of the governance practices of the region. Among the existing 53 (fifty three) bureaus in the region the study focused on 36 (thirty six) bureaus as case study that have PRs head or officer in their respective office through survey by using a cross sectional type study in time horizon. The rest 17 (seventeen) regional bureaus didn‟t include in the study due to unavailability of a separate PRs offices. The study was made by case study with explanatory method through interviews, focus group discussion (FGD) and questionnaires. This study applied purposive sampling which allows using cases that have the required information with respect to the objectives of the study. Though the study used a mixed methodology it is more of a qualitative one. Whereas 36 questionnaires distributed for the PRs practitioners selected from different bureaus; the researcher made ten interviews with high level officials and office heads as well as two cluster FGDs having seven and eight PROs participants in each group. The number of FGDs is limited by two groups is because of the number of PROs in each regional bureau is inadequate and as a result of this the PROs act as both officer and facilitator/director. This study researcher was working at the defunct Gambella regional state government communication office; nowadays the Gambella regional press secretariat office. To complete the study 36 (100%) questionnaires collected from the whole 36 bureaus. Among the total 36 respondents 25 (69%) of them were males and the rest 11 (31%) are females; 33 (92%) of them have BA and/or BSc, while three (8%) of them were MA holders; 21 (58%) of them were Amharic graduates, 8 (22%) of them come from English background; two (6%) of them join from civics education whereas the rest five (14%) each came from different education fields. The data shows that there is no educational background problem in the PRs bureaus at GNRS but the actual practice lacks attention both from the PROs and officials, lacks practitioners‟ professionalism with communication knowhow gap, there no clear cut line between officers, facilitators/coordinators and directors activities as well as weak organization of PRs offices. Aside from this, the PRs practice of the regional bureaus is mainly dependent on publicity and event management activities, strategy and guidelines put aside as a result of hierarchical loopholes, there is much interference from the management, the communication activities lack integration among different sectors that results the regional government to become weak. Last but not least, there is weak relationship between the PRs offices and the media. As a result, in order to alleviate the GNRS PRs practice challenges officials should be familiar with the essence of PRs, should have commitment in their leadership with clear, scientific and timely vision. Beyond this the new regional press secretariat office should evaluate the new structural adjustment and PROs skill gaps to improve the actual PRs practice.



Public Relations and Strategic Communications