Members of the National Assembly and support staff are honing their skills in public relations.
The five-day workshop in Otjiwarongo started on Monday and is expected to end on Friday. The workshop is being attended mainly by backbenchers.
The aim is to equip MPs with skills in dealing with the media so that their speeches and activities are covered.
Topics dealt with include an overview of the press and why communication is important; what makes news; news management; getting the message right; why messages matter; developing a newsworthy message; using practical tools for getting a message across and putting together a media strategy by using media tools and multimedia.
Officially opening the workshop, the programme coordinator for the Parliamentary Support Programme, Johan de Waal, a former parliamentarian, said: “Effective communication is a vital skill for all parliamentarians. Keeping the public, who elect us, informed about our work is important to ensure parliament is fully open and accountable to those it serves.”
The facilitator of the workshop, Stephen Gethins, has massive experience in communications and he was hopeful the new MPs and staff would benefit from his experience.
Gethins informed participants that it is important for MPs to communicate their work to the electorate because they are accountable to them. This, he said, can be achieved by using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, among others.
Gethins has worked as an independent consultant and communications expert at a number of private sector companies. He also undertook courses on communications in Tanzania, Namibia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and was elected as a new British MP in the May 2015 elections in the UK.
At the end of the workshop participants’ contributions will assist in developing a long-term media strategy for MPs.