President of Liberia to deliver keynote speech on day two of IGCF 2015

SHARJAH, 16th February, 2015 (WAM) — Sharjah Media Centre (SMC) has announced that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will deliver a keynote speech on the second day of the forthcoming International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2015) as Guest of Honour.

In the presence of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Africa’s first democratically elected female President will share her experience in crisis management, particularly in handling the Ebola crisis that hit Liberia in recent months. In addition to internal and external media crises, President Sirleaf’s speech will highlight her government’s efforts to regain the trust of the people during periods of crisis.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of SMC, said, “There are several factors that constructively help in dealing with contingencies. Effective government communication is a critical aspect of all crisis management today. If government communication is not implemented effectively, it will not only complicate the problem, but also snowball into other crisis scenarios that could have been avoided in the first place. If, for instance, governments tried to hide important facts from the public in the present era of social communications, such actions would inevitably backfire and affect the government’s credibility, as well as the people’s confidence in their government’s ability to overcome the crisis.” Al Qasimi added: “We are proud to host President Sirleaf and learn from her experience in handling the Ebola crisis that threatened the security, stability and economy of the Republic of Liberia and the world at large.” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has led the war-torn nation of Liberia to freedom and restored peace, while affecting economic, social, and political change. Her incredible journey is chronicled in her memoir ‘This Child Will Be Great’.

As a global leader in women’s empowerment, President Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work in securing women’s rights. Previously in 2007, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian award, for her personal courage and unwavering commitment to freedom and improving the lives of Africans.

Whether focused on providing the basic needs of her people, striving to end corruption, or globally supporting women’s causes, President Sirleaf’s message of peace, human rights, economic empowerment, and moral leadership leaves audiences inspired to make a change in the world.

She has been ranked among the top 100 most powerful women in the world (Forbes 2012), the foremost powerful woman in Africa (Forbes Africa 2011), among the 10 best leaders in the world (Newsweek 2010) and among the top 10 female leaders (TIME 2010), as well as called ‘the best President the country has ever had’ (The Economist 2010) and one of the six ‘Women of the Year’ (Glamour 2010).

The agenda for IGCF 2015 includes two interactive lectures focusing on crisis management. Allowing free entry to up to 100 participants, the lectures will be repeated on the second day.

The first interactive lecture, titled ‘Crisis communications in the digital age’, will be led by communications consultant Nigel Kay. It will elaborate on the role of governments during crises and the impact of social media on traditional emergency management processes. It will also provide participants with the ability to analyse whether social media is the most effective tool when it comes to communicating with the public during emergency scenarios.

The second lecture, hosted by communications consultant Mark Webster, will present a ‘Case study of BP and the Deepwater Horizon disaster’. Webster will highlight the role of crisis communication in limiting reputation damage and financial loss. He will also underline the importance of preparedness and the need to have an effective corporate PR strategy in place for crisis situations. The importance of selecting a suitable spokesperson to communicate the right dose of empathy, contrition and sincerity to key target audiences in crisis scenarios will also be discussed.

Organised under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, IGCF 2015 is set to run from February 22-23 at the Expo Centre Sharjah.