Student-led administrations in the various denominations of the University of Ibadan have learnt to adopt and use various innovations.
These ideas aim to help the smooth running of their administrations. Adopting them is supposedly student-needs-driven and would help them reach and serve the needs of their colleagues who have trusted them enough to vote for them.
Naturally, among these ideas, some work perfectly, and others do not. The reasons why these ideas may not necessarily work vary, depending on the administration and how they have tried to implement them.
One which administrations, past and present, have not seemed to grasp just yet is the concept of publicity.
Publicity, as put by Forbes.com, should be referred to as the ninth wonder of the world as it is vital for any institution that wishes to reach a certain target audience.
The institution here is the administration, and the audience is the students they are meant to serve. Administrations, through their PR, should be able to keep every student in the loop regarding every one of its actions and inactions; students should also be able to know why and how and also when these activities are being carried out.
This would not only help aid the administration’s accountability, but it would also foster a significant relationship between the administration and the students.
However, as crucial as publicity is, student-led administrations in every aspect of the UI community have not excelled so much. Of course, for some, the level of publicity put in by each of these administrations might be good enough; however, it is important to first weigh the level of PR put in these people.
Two Steps Back From The Vigorous Campaign Publicity
Classifying Uites as politically apathetic might not sit well with many, especially not after the last few rounds of elections held in the university last semester.
Just a few months ago, every single executive that makes up the current administrations in faculties, halls and the student union in general, and those who aspired to be elected but were not, had managed to successfully shove themselves to the faces and minds of virtually all the students in the university.
This, however, is not something new; it is even described as a norm and tradition that every second-semester politician and aspiring executive brings their ‘A’ game in terms of publicity to try to attract votes from as many Uites as possible.
As an attempt to do much better than their opponents, they carry out what many classify as aggressive publicity right from the beginning of the semester to the day before the elections are held.
They do this through graphics to welcome students to school, free tutorials, hanging banners, and mouth publicity, and they often go as far as defacing walls, doors and tanks with their posters.
Some techniques, like defacing the walls and school facilities with their campaign materials, have been prohibited by the university; however, it hasn’t stopped anyone from carrying out their publicity.
Looking at the campaign culture exhibited over the years by aspirants, one can easily infer that publicity is not necessarily a strange concept to those who are eventually voted in. They know the essence of consistency, timeliness, and so on when trying to reach a wide range of people.
However, just like the vigorous and stunning campaign culture, there is also a norm that after getting in, these aspirants seemingly lose any publicity skills they have. And suddenly, there is no longer the need to update students on every action they take to make the faculty, department, hall, or union a better and more conducive place for them.
Neither is there a need to inform students of decisions made by the administrations timely. A perfect example would be a release some weeks ago from the Kunle Adepeju building, which told students to hold on paying their professional levies and lab fees as a meeting held between various executives and the union government would be tabling a case in front of the management.
Students had not been informed earlier that a meeting, for that reason, was going to be held, and many had gone ahead to pay these fees before the release was made.
How Far Does Voluntary Publicity Fly?
In the name of publicity and informing students of events, decisions, etc., many administrations have taken to free and voluntary publicity. This means that they carry out publicity with the help of people and agents who do not charge them for carrying out publicity.
Sometimes, they do this by enlisting the help of students, mostly through WhatsApp broadcast lists and groups. Usually, these students emerge from different levels, departments, halls, etc., as the case may be, and so the idea that a lot of students would be reached through this means.
While this publicity method is free and costs little to nothing, the question of its effectiveness should be asked.
It is important to note that as easy as this might be, not many students would agree to be part of a publicity team or committee, and for many who would finally be part of this, not all would be active and consistent in helping with publicity.
This means that only a tiny percentage of students at the University of Ibadan would actively help carry out publicity for these administrations. Therefore, it leaves any reasonable person to wonder at what cost strictly free and voluntary publicity comes.
Enlisting The Help Of Student Influencers
The University of Ibadan might be known for the academic prowess of its students; however, it doesn’t mean that in this community of students, there are people who stick to being just bookworms.
The student community at the University of Ibadan is filled with creatives, entrepreneurs and influencers. These influencers can be found in every nook and cranny of the school (different halls, levels, departments and faculties), so getting a hold of them is not necessarily a problem.
Using influencers in the university has not fully been explored, almost like the administration is sitting on a treasure chest and bringing one gold coin out after every decade.
Although many insinuate that students at the University of Ibadan have no social life, it isn’t entirely true, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when we see some student influencers bag thousands of followers on their social media and have other students sing their names from time to time.
This is why including these student influencers might be one of the tricks the student-led administrations need to pull to have full control of their publicity. On one or two occasions, some influencers might have been enlisted to help with publicity, but moving from rarely to frequently might just be what is needed.
Understandably, some of these influencers might charge, but paying them would be a good enough price for effective publicity.
Publicity That Gets Nowhere
Publicity is not a one-way thing; it is an all-rounder, and it is not achieved by just reaching a target audience. It is one thing to reach the target audience, and it is another to convince the audience to be a part of what is being publicised especially if it is an event.
This is one place where most of the student-led administration is lagging. Even after reaching a number of students, only a handful of feedbacks, turnouts or conversions are gotten, depending on the purpose of what had been released. This is mostly seen when events are publicised, be it seminars, parties, etc.
Most times, even after running publicity for weeks, the event turnout would prove to be so little in comparison to what effort may have been put into publicity. Apart from the number of people reached might not have been quite significant in quantity, the content of what has been put out might not have effectively caught the attention and interest of those who come across it.
This is a significant problem because when students do not find interest in something as little as a graphic or a write-up, they make no effort to get information on it, not to talk of participating.
No student-led administration can eliminate publicity at the University of Ibadan. As earlier said, it is the one way to communicate with students and keep them in the loop.
When publicity is taken away, the purpose of having a student body that serves as a bridge between students and management is defeated, and this is why it should be held up till the end.
How a student-led administration wishes to go about its publicity is dependent on such administration. The main point is to have a system that works perfectly. One key thing to be noted, however, is the need to be ever-ready for change so that where one system already set out is ineffective, another would be put in place to help serve the purpose.