With a few exceptions, the Sierra Leonean election campaigns have been noticeable for their preponderance of propaganda, misinformation and disinformation.

There has been some genuine information about candidates, their parties and their policies, but not enough.

There is a general trend in Sierra Leone to see communications and propaganda as more or less the same thing.

In addition to Insight Magazine, we at Insight Media and Communications also offer communications services and so, in a bid to expand the discussion, we thought we would explain the difference between PR, communications, propaganda and rest.

Imagine we are standing in front of a field of flowers and weeds.

The Public Relations Approach:

I know you like flowers:

Instead of telling you to pick them yourself, I find the prettiest in the field, arrange them beautifully and hand them to you. In some instances, I might even have come prepared with tissue paper and ribbon. I obviously make sure there are no weeds in the bouquet.

The Propagandist Approach:

I know you like flowers:

I hand you a big bunch of imported plastic flowers and promise you faithfully I picked them from my field, which is much better. I point out my field. It appears to contain nothing but weeds.

The Communications Approach:

You like flowers but you don't know it:

Taking you by the hand, we follow a prescribed path around the field so that I can show you the prettiest, and explain why they’re nicer than the weeds. We pick a few flowers together. Then I leave you on the path, picking flowers of your own. When I look back, you’re showing someone else. You might even be doing some weeding.

The Misinformation Approach:

I don’t want you to like flowers:

Taking you by the hand, we wander around the field, preferably at dusk when you can’t see the flowers properly. There are creepy crawlies all over the place. You get badly bitten by mosquitos. I blame everything on the flowers.

The Disinformation Approach:

I want you to hate flowers:

You have a bad week. You lose your job. A member of your family falls ill. The roof blows off your house in a freak storm. I tell you this is what happens to people who like flowers. If everything goes the way I've planned, you will eventually set fire to the field.

#Elections #communications #Insight

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