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A genuine concern for people |

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A genuine concern for people

COMMONNESS - Bong R. Osorio -

We find meaning in making shows that inspire the Filipino through shows that reflect their values that affirm their self-worth and recognize their strengths. The fulfillment that you experience by doing something that has a positive impact on the lives of people is a more lasting reward than the glamour and the pay.”

These inspiring words were part of ABS-CBN chairman and CEO Gabby Lopez’s keynote address in the 7th Pinoy Media Congress (PMC) held last March 1 and 2 at the Blessed Antonio Varona Gymnasium, Colegio De San Juan De Letran.

PMC is an annual gathering of communication and journalism students and faculty members all over the country jointly staged by the Philippine Association of Communication Educators (PACE) and ABS-CBN. The event engages future media practitioners in discussions of current issues and case studies on media and communications. This year the two-day summit revolved specifically around the convergence of media for social responsibility.

“The people running the media organizations today were once just like you. Although it’s obvious that all of us were once students, what I’m trying to say is that many of you here today may be producing tomorrow’s news programs and entertainment shows,” Gabby enthused. “You may be calling the shots sooner than you imagine. One of you can be a Charo Santos of ABS-CBN, a Jessica Soho of GMA 7 or a Bobby Barreiro of TV5.”

He shared that when he was young and his father Eugenio Lopez Jr., also known as Kapitan, was already running ABS-CBN, he saw him being consumed by his passion. “He worked day and night, weekends and holidays, but never complained. So, I thought to myself, he must be doing something that he really liked and enjoyed,” Gabby mused. As soon as he joined ABS-CBN, Gabby learned that media people truly like what they’re doing despite all the stress, hardship, even all the frustrations and the dangers. “Yes, it’s common to hear them say ‘Nakakapagod, nakakaiyak, ayoko na talaga !’ But in truth, gustong-gusto pa nila and they will never give up,” he observed.

Accomplished people say that the secret of success in career is doing something that you really love to do even for free. And that most people who choose to have a profession in the media really choose it because they like it, not because their parents want them to do it or the pay is good. More than the thrill of seeing your creation on television, of knowing that your message reaches millions of people, it’s how you help change lives that give meaning to your work.

“We live in a country that has been waiting for so long for prosperity, peace and pride. All these cannot be achieved by the president doing them alone, not even all the senators, not even the congressmen and all elected officials,” Gabby emphasized. “True and lasting change, as Mahatma Gandhi said, can only happen if we — all citizens of this country — can become the change that we want to see.”

The media, through the communication of the right values, through advocacies, through fair and honest information, can indeed play a big role in making change happen. To make the Philippines a better place, there’s still a lot of work to be done. And such work is waiting for young people who wish to work in media.

In this year’s Media Congress, the participants listened to people who run the media today. They asked questions, challenged propositions, and dialogued with experts. Hopefully, they liked the answers given, and learned from the comments shared and observations made. Gabby hoped that the students appreciate the work that media do today. But if not, agree that there’s still a lot of work to be done, and that they can definitely contribute to making things better.

ABS-CBN executives and subject-matter experts such as digital terrestrial TV marketing head Miguel Mercado gave a deeper realization that in five years’ time, all networks would have gone digital, with ABS-CBN pioneering in efforts to improve the existing structural limitations of the Philippine media landscape. News and current affairs head Ging Reyes conveyed the importance of truth and impartiality in news coverage and reportage media convergence in news, as Star Cinema concept development group head Enrico Santos told the delegates how Philippine cinema can be socially responsible and ABS-CBN head of creative communications Robert Labayen discussed how to connect with Filipino viewers via advocacy plugs.

ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. managing director Gina Lopez swept the delegates off their feet with her passionate plea of “No to Mining in Palawan” and other advocacies that respond to people’s needs. ABS-CBN Manila radio division head Peter Musngi shared how radio responded to the changes in media technology, while regional network group head Jerry Bennett presented the case study on “Choose Philippines,” a tourism-related social marketing program. March Ventosa, head of Studio 23 and Cable Channel and Print Media Group (CCPMG), tackled emerging market trends; customer business development head Vivian Tin helped the participants understand the Filipino audience more, and TV entertainment production head Linggit Tan explained the kinds of TV entertainment Filipinos want.

Industry officials and experts who spoke at the event included Kantar Media general manager Gabriel Buluran, who defined the current Philippine media landscape and how Filipinos consume media; Campaigns and Grey chair Yoly Ong discussed emerging global market trends and their impact on the Philippines; MTRCB board member Atty. Eugenio Villareal and KBP president Ruperto Nicdao both discussed how their respective groups protect the audience through media monitoring.

Communication in the age of real-time news has truly become even more challenging. Today you can be an instant international sensation or a damaged personality depending on how you are played out in the online world. Indeed, in an “anybody-can-write-a-blog environment,” exemplified by YouTube or Facebook, you can either be a famous celebrity property or a terribly bruised one depending on how you are played out in an intensified, toxic milieu. When properly unleashed, communication can project your positive image, your unassailable reputation and your sterling personal or professional performance. Here are some communication principles picked up from the PMC:

• Communication in a converged universe is a never-ending process. Erase the mindset that “you’ll turn on the communication only when you think you need it.” This is what communication guru Michael Snyder labeled as the faucet philosophy of communication, where you can turn on or off the flow depending on the issues that confront you at the moment.

• Effective communication is linked to strategic development. This directly relates to the proper valuation of what communication can do to make your programs, brand or organizations more socially responsible.

• How your company is seen is largely based on collective experience and perception. Bear in mind that good communication should not take too lightly the power of smaller media outlets. Smaller newspapers have websites, too. Maybe not all but those who have are accessible and linkable everywhere. Thus it is not safe to assume that a negative story or comment that appears in a small provincial newspaper or a niche channel can be declared insignificant. Its online followers can start the fire and make the issue travel faster. If you don’t walk your talk or live your claim, somebody can blow the whistle, even from a local paper or community radio, and you might just get surprised that the negative coverage on you has gone global.

• Modern-day communication requires a design that connects to specific vertical, niche and specialized audiences using a converged media platform. A one-message-fits-all communication strategy does not work. A broad e-mail blast about a complex situation addressed to a general public will not yield your desired result. Don’t expect your audience to get your key messages faster if the process is too generic or you are not combining the power of mixed media.

• The fact remains that nature loathes a void. Thus, full disclosure and credible information sharing is a skillful communication policy.  You can’t operate out of sight. You will be always under the radar of a demanding public. Thus, in the absence of credible information, people will simply create their own. That invented information quickly becomes word-of-mouth or even regarded as gospel truth, which at some point becomes irretrievable in the short term, as they travel faster in a converged media situation.

• Every communication should be anchored on solid, unassailable research information. Superior research begets superior communication. The only way to beat bad information is with good information, and good information comes from high-quality research. In the age of Google, Wikipedia and other newfangled search engines, there is no acceptable justification for not doing your homework when tasked to hook up with identified target publics.

Media has truly expanded. While the basic communication principles remain the same, you now have to combine the power of both traditional and new media approaches to better connect with people. As a renowned PR leader from Weber Shandwick said, you must be able to combine offline with online to be in line.

“Communication students who want to work in media should have a genuine concern for people,” Gabby advised. He looks forward to their authentic desire to give happiness to a mother who washes laundry for a living, to soothe the loneliness of a father working in a far and strange land, to give hope to young people who can’t afford school, and to help give a fresh start to victims of calamities. To millions of Filipinos out there, the media are their source of inspiration and empowerment. They also look at media as the institution that will stand up for their welfare when all else fails.

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E-mail or for comments, questions or suggestions. Thank you for communicating.

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