Media Rights Agenda (MRA) last month showcased its experience in using social media to advance freedom of expression and access to information issues at the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) Strategy Conference held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Making a presentation on June 20 at a workshop for IFEX members on “Getting Your Message Out – Social Media”, MRA’s Deputy Executive Director, Ms Jennifer Onyejekwe, described MRA’s journey and efforts in developing a heavily social media-oriented communication strategy as part of its digital transformation drive.
With significant reference to Twitter, Ms Onyejekwe highlighted MRA’s strategy to engage new audiences while also retaining its old ones in a rapidly evolving digital environment and at the same time trying to ensure that it maintained its reputation for the dissemination of quality information.
Ms Onyejekwe told participants: “2011 was a transformative year for MRA. The access to information landscape in Nigeria received a boost with the passage of our Freedom of Information Act and a digital transformation process was launched within the organisation to advance this and other issues that we were working on.”
She explained that the digital transformation was necessary because “MRA had a lot of information to disseminate and although it had done this effectively with conventional media over the years, it was clear that there were new audiences out there that it was not reaching and who were potentially very important in bringing about change in the country. It became necessary to evaluate the organisation’s communication strategy and tools in order to ensure its effective engagement with old and new audiences”.
Ms Onyejekwe said MRA therefore embarked on a process of developing a communication strategy which resulted in the adoption of some social media platforms as a critical component of the organization’s public communication approach.
Laying emphasis on Twitter as one of the prominent tools used by MRA, Ms Onyejekwe said: “using Twitter has been a growing but rewarding experience.”
She highlighted some of the landmark activities that MRA had engaged in since joining Twitter in November 2011. Some of the identified events were: engaging new audience during its National Summit on the Freedom of Information Act in June 2012; holding a series of online forums on a variety of issues, including the Constitution review process; and its anti-impunity campaign during which it released data on the state of murdered and attacked journalists in Nigeria whose cases have yet to be effectively investigated or redressed.
Ms Onyejekwe stated that such events have boosted MRA’s online level of influence as an authority in its subject areas, including monitoring and campaigning against attacks on the media, access to information, freedom of expression, among other issues.
She shared with the participants MRA’s strategies and tips on how to increase their audiences and level of influence on Twitter, saying that although MRA still very much considers itself to be at a learning stage, it was engaging social media with more confidence and greater clarity about MRA’s objectives and the possibilities offered by social media in the achievement of the goals.
The session ended with participants saying that they had been inspired by the experience and promising to try out some of the ideas to also improve on their organizations’ public communication efforts.