Governments should work on emotionally engaging with people: Saeed Al Eter

-     Government communication is crucial as it affects all including investment and tourism

Government communication professionals should make sure to get their audience emotionally engaged with their stories, according to the Director General of The Public Diplomacy Office.

Speaking during a session on public diplomacy and campaign management at the Public Diplomacy and Government Communication Forum, Saeed Al Eter said: “The government communications department is a key department.

“Countries spend millions on maintaining and improving their reputation through communicating with people of other nations, as this will be reflected on the image of the country and the products originated from these countries including tourism and investment,” Al Eter said.

He highlighted the importance of communication, saying that CEOs of Fortune 500 companies spend 40% of their time on communicating with stakeholders, partners and employees - discussing key aspects of the business.

This goes up to 70% for political leaders as they spend ample time communicating with their people, partisans, media and leaders of other nations, among others.

Crucial Communication
“Government communication is crucial as it affects everything including investment and tourism.”

While opponents would argue that communications is just words, in reality it is something different. “For example, Obama’s opponent said that this guy is just words, but Obama said it’s not just a word,” Al Eter said.

Al Eter quoted Obama saying that “it’s true that speeches don’t solve all problems, but what is also true is that if we can’t inspire our country to believe again, then it doesn’t matter how many policies and plans we have.

“Words inspire people, that’s why it is important. In the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, keeps reiterating about being a pioneer in everything and being topmost of every ranking,” he said.

“The words of His Highness were extremely influential and inspired people,” he said.

The Storyteller
For Al Eter, the most powerful person is the storyteller. “Some people say that the world is not made of atoms but actually from stories.”

Al Eter also shared his thoughts about what government communication should be like. He advised government communication professionals to forget about tradition and treat their media campaign as a design process. “Communication is not a service industry, but actually product industry. Every new event is a new product that we need to work on,” he said.

People now spend almost eight hours on their phones, sometimes more than they spend sleeping. “The content they read or see on their screens make them laugh or make them sad, that’s why we should ensure to make them emotionally interact with the story we deliver,” he added.

The Forum
Organised by the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), the Public Diplomacy and Government Communication Forum looks at a range of communication issues that governments encounter in the light of recent political, social, environmental and security developments.

The event discusses communication success stories and learnings from major campaigns, crises and events. The Forum brings together ministers, senior government officials, academics and experts in the fields of communications and media from the region and across the world.

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