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MRC’s Extended Communications Teams Trained to Go Digital

11th Sep 2017

 Vientiane, Lao PDR, 11 September 2017 – In an effort to reach out to the concerned local populations, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) invited last month digital savvy officials from the four Mekong countries to get trained on social media usage for better joint communications.

The two-day training on digital media strategy and effective use was held from 15 August at the MRC Secretariat in Vientiane, and attended by nine officials from the four National Mekong Committee Secretariats (NMCs) and relevant ministries.

Together with the MRC’s communication personnel, they learned from an international social media expert the latest trend in the use of social media in the region as well as among the international development organisations worldwide. They also learned how to utilise digital media to communicate key messages and to create more attractive posts for Facebook and Twitter with various apps. Through hands-on activities, the participants practiced and acquired new techniques to use micro-video and design apps, including Canva, Pablo and Ripl.

“All these skills and knowledge are important for the MRC and NMCs to communicate our work better to the target audiences. It would help build trust among stakeholders, and assist them to understand how the MRC works for regional water cooperation,” An Pich Hatda, Director of the MRC’s Planning Division and Officer-in-Charge of the MRCS, said before the participants.

During the intensive training, the participants also worked on the development of a joint digital communication strategy between the MRC and the national counterparts to strengthen their collaboration in external communications. Although each country has a differing digital media environment, all agreed to communicate more often, and share important MRC messages in local languages through their national communication channels.

A training participant

A training participant speaks to the trainer in front of a video camera during a mock interview

“I hope that the MRC and NMCs will start working more closely to disseminate a wealth of our knowledge and promote our work together. Such collaboration will reinforce our water diplomacy and regional cooperation,” concluded the director.

Meanwhile, senior staff of the MRC and NMC secretariats afforded an opportunity to brush up their media interview skills last month. About 20 senior staff such as directors of the MRC’s technical arms and national line agencies participated in a two-day intensive training on crisis communications and media interviews held in Vientiane in mid-August.

Through message development sessions and mock interview sessions where participants were interviewed one by one in front of a video camera, the senior staff learned first-hand practical tips on effective message composition, likable body languages and favourable vocal expressions.

Many participants left positive comments on the training in a post-workshop survey, saying they found the workshop thought-provoking and the interview coaching and message design very useful.

The MRC plans to continue communications capacity development of the MRC staff and its national counterparts in coming months.

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