By Ozegbe Kingsley
Wikipedia defines Communications Management as the systematic planning, implementing, monitoring, and revisioning of all the channels of communication within an organization, and between organizations; it also includes the organization and dissemination of new communication directives connected with an organization, network, or communications technology. It further posits that the aspects of communications management include developing corporate communication strategy, designing internal and external communications directives, and managing the flow of information.
Viewing communication from this comprehensive posture means that it is an essential element to successful management of community. While the information needs of different peer group may differ, community leaders must holistically begin to clearly articulate and meet the information needs of these different people in the community. There is need to know when information can be relayed and in what form to different groups of persons. It is important to sieve the facts, determine the choice of words and present in a simple language. Because of its importance, community leaders must ensure that verifiable facts are conspicuously displayed in any form they choose to transmit information to the people. It is also necessary to define who authorises transmission of information and provide feedback channels to community management.
Apart from the conventional town crier, it has been observed that some communities have adopted the use of notice boards to strengthen communication with other members of the community, while these efforts are plausible; there is urgent need to improve the timeliness, quality and frequency of information passage to diffuse rumour, speculations, tension and conflicts that are often triggered by lack of information.
Since all peer groups in the community have a representative structure at their levels such as Council of Chiefs, Community Development Committee, Women forum and youths; it is necessary for community leaders to consider disseminating information and also getting feedback through these structures before a community town hall meeting that embraces participants across the structures. While most rural communities' leadership are gender blind due to cultural dictates, there is the need to reassess the loses communities have incurred as a result of unheard voices of a particular gender.
The roles and perception of women and men may differ on a particular issue or development concern; so, the interests of both groups have to be recognised and reassured to arouse their active participation towards achieving community peace. From the beginning, community leaders should effectively communicate.