Left: Mr Robert Conceicao (left) and his son Reuben conducted the Heard or Hurt in a Changing Landscape seminar on Nov 15.

Communications Office rolls out first in series of training programmes

Church workers should not fear journalists and social media practitioners. Rather Church personnel should learn to find common ground and work with these people.

This was the message presented to some 80 people, including priests, Religious, Church workers and volunteers, during a training programme organised by the Archdiocese Communications Office on Nov 15.

There is nothing that Church personnel can do to stop the media from publishing news, said Mr Robert Conceicao, a Church volunteer with 20 years of experience in the communications industry,

What Church workers can do is to ensure that “what you’re doing is correct” and “if they [the media] want to carry it, [let them] carry it”, he said.

Right: Church personnel at the seminar.

Mr Conceicao was speaking at the morning seminar, titled Heard or Hurt in a Changing Landscape, the first in a series of programmes to help Church workers communicate more effectively both within the Church as well as externally.

Mr Conceicao has worked as a journalist and a government spokesperson, and currently runs a public relations consultancy firm. He is also the honorary secretary of the Institute of Public Relations of Singapore, the accrediting body for public relations professionals in Singapore.

In his talk, he highlighted the increasing use of social media and its related activities such as blogging and citizen journalism.

The social media landscape is neutral, Mr Conceicao said. He advised the gathering not to fear those working behind social media platforms or view them as threats. Rather, Church personnel should “seek opportunities”, find common ground and interests, and work together with these people, he said.

Engaging the online citizen is important, Mr Conceicao said, and warned those present not to avoid such engagement, or worse, lie and obstruct the other party’s efforts.

He also reminded those present that a “no comment” is still a comment and this could be construed to mean that one has something to hide.

He stressed that it is important to have rules of engagement with the media and to keep abreast of changes in this rapidly evolving field.

Also speaking at the morning’s session was Mr Conceicao’s son, Reuben, co-founder of Pagiea Pte Ltd, a digital think tank dedicated to revolutionising the digital content creation space.

He presented an overview of how technology evolved from the broadcast era to mobile computing and to the Web 2.0 era. He believes that the next era would involve assisted computing or artificial intelligence.

Fr Aloysius Ong, who attended the programme, said he found it useful in helping priests engage with developing media trends. Priests should view such developments as “an opportunity” to share Christ and the Church with others, he said.

By Darren Boon
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