Auditing Federal Government Public Relations Practice in Ethiopia: Tool for Development Communication or propaganda?

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In developing nation‟s government public relations is viewed as a tool for communicating policies and actions to groups or the public at large, and has been employed to assist governments in information dissemination. Looking at Ethiopia‟s public relations practice after the fall of derg regime, the practice of government public relations has been and is contested for being politically oriented than professionally driven with no specific communication policy and strategy guiding the practice. This research was conducted to assess the practice of federal government public relations either as a tool for development communication or propaganda. And to do so, the researcher used qualitative approach through an interview with federal ministries and media organizations, focus group discussion with media organizations and document analysis were used to collect the data. And a two-way symmetry of public relations theoretical framework was used as a base to conduct the research. The findings of the study depicted that public relations practice in the federal government is a tool for propaganda because, most of public relations practitioners believe public relations offices in federal government organizations are established to defend the interest of the government, limitation of understanding the management function of public relations to create mutual understanding with the public‟s and its assistance for an informed decision. The federal government public relations offices represented in the sample ministries uses different tools which are not enough in number, time and frequency to reach the public on regular basis. Lack of guiding policy for the practice of public relations, unreliability of government information by the media are also the major findings that associates government public relations practice with propaganda. Concerning the challenges, insufficiency of professionals, absence of national communication and public relations strategy and unprofessionalism, absence of professional leadership, and inadequate guidance from the government were highly cited as challenging in the practice public relations in federal government organizations. Based on this, the researcher calls up on the federal government for a professional driven public relations practice, the enactment of communication policy and strategies, to organize the public relations works professionally and structurally.



Ethiopia‟s public relations practice