In its inception in 2017, the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program through the National Program Management Office (NPMO) has established its image through public relations (PR) and communication, which were improved throughout the years for transparency and accountability. The media platforms used by the program are online, such as the website and Facebook page, and prints. Furthermore, the press is important because it plays a vital role in informing society about public affairs and monitoring the actions of SAAD at all levels.
The NPMO Public Relations and Communications Group (NPMO-PRCG) was fully formed in 2018 with a group of four officers, whose main tasks are to produce press releases, campaigns, publications of SAAD activities, and assist in crafting information, education, and communication (IEC) materials.
In 2019, the unit was reduced and only run by an officer hampering the delivery of the program for real-time SAAD in action. However, in early 2020, the unit gained momentum when Dr. Myer Mula took charge of reorganizing the SAAD Program. The unit is composed of four officers, each leading the press releases and other articles of two to three Regional Program Management Support Offices (RPMSOs), and a head officer.
The NPMO-PRCG of the program is now in charge of the 1) production of publications, such as a newsletter, magazine, books, and annual reports; 2) the content and design management of the website, Facebook page, and videos (YouTube); and 3) production of information exchange materials, such as brochures, infographic reports, posters, flyers, etc.
Another breakthrough of the program is providing an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) to press releases, SAADvocacy and SAADventures, which enables a serial publication to be identified unequivocally worldwide; and ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to books, gives credibility and viewed as a symbol of prestige and a sign that the book is not published through a traditional mainstream publisher.
1. Press Releases and other related articles
An important aspect of accountability is information. Therefore, it is vital for government offices to be able to create and distribute press releases to share information about their affairs with the public. According to the Colorado State University (2020), a press release is a highly efficient and cost-effective tool with which to accomplish goals, such as containing a crisis, announcing coming events, reporting on past events, welcoming new staff members, highlighting awards received, etc.
The SAAD NPMO-PRCG is writing press releases, which are usually a distribution of interventions, the status of project implementation, social preparation activities, achievements, events, products, and partnerships.
Table 1 shows that the SAAD Program produced a total of 52 articles and 48 PR photographs (published photos of an event with details and explanation called caption) in 2017. In 2018, SAAD published 157 articles and 9 PR photographs, which both circulated online. Meanwhile, a total of 79 articles were produced in 2019. The year 2020 has the most production with 217 articles, which is over the targeted number of releases as stated in the logical framework of the program.
Table 1. SAAD Program’s Number of Press Releases and Other Related Articles
|Year||Press Releases||PR Photographs||Feature Articles||Editorial Articles||Total|
2. SAADvocacy (Newsletter)
SAADvocacy is the official monthly newsletter of the program, highlighting its major news and activities, feature and editorial stories, announcements, upcoming events, and many more.
The newsletter was first launched in 2018. Four publications were published but the production stopped due to the repositioned targets of the group made by former Director Bernadette San Juan. The group shifted from producing publications to creating compendiums of provincial profiles as well as partnering with the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) on possible conduct of midterm evaluation study for the program. However, due to the unmet requirements, the study didn’t push through.
In 2020, the newsletter was revived. The output was met with 16 publications published (once a month) with ISSN 2718-9791. All issues of the publication can be accessed at www.saad.da.gov.ph/saadvocacy/.
3. SAADventures (Magazine)
In 2018, three issues were only released. The discontinuance was due to a lack of manpower resources.
This was revived in 2020 with an ISSN 2718-9719. The publication was improved in content and design. Five issues featuring the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Bicol Region, Northern Mindanao Region, Zamboanga Peninsula, and MIMAROPA Region were released. The publication can be accessed online at www.saad.da.gov.ph/saadventures/.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in mid-March 2020, the publication’s production was affected. There were issues and limitations in field operations, hampering the conduct of interviews and documentation needed for the creation of success stories.
4. Annual Reports
Much more than the performance of the SAAD for the past years, the annual report is an opportunity to highlight the program’s key achievements, expectations for the coming year, and overall goals and objectives, all in a format that is easily accessible by a wide range of audiences, including the stakeholders, partners, and the public.
The report is both published printed and online. Every year from 2017 to 2019, the SAAD NPMO-PRCG has been producing the reports, which are available on the program’s website. The links are as follows:
- 2019 SAAD Annual Report – saad.da.gov.ph/annual-report/2019-annual-report/
- 2018 SAAD Annual Report – saad.da.gov.ph/annual-report/2018-annual-report/
- 2017 SAAD Annual Report – saad.da.gov.ph/annual-report/2017-annual-report/
The group will start the production of the 2020 SAAD Annual Report by the end of the 4th quarter.
In June 2020, the SAAD Program published its first book written by its Program Director Myer G. Mula and Director Dr. Rosana P. Mula of the Agricultural Training Institute (partner institution). The book, entitled “Agricultural Extension and Communication: A Theoretical Guide to Social Preparation of the Special Area for Agricultural Development Program” with ISBN 978-971-704-040-0 / 978-971-704-041-7, mainly aims to provide the stakeholders a reference to basic theories and concepts of extension service.
SAAD also published three parts of its annual compendium of press releases and feature articles. Two independent books were also produced and published titled ‘Manual on Strawberry Production and Management Practices’ and ‘Why Conurbation Needs a Sustainable Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture’. All were published both online (/books) and in print.
7. SAAD Website
The SAAD’s website significantly improved its content and design from a lack of contrast to easy to navigate, everything is organized, and grab the attention and quickly find information the visitors are looking for in just a few seconds. The major highlights are the following:
- Home. The page’s overall appearance was developed to make all substantial information of the program, such as accomplishments, annual reports, books, press releases, publications, 30 priority provinces’ profiles, and events, accessible in one location.
- Priority Provinces. The page is a map of the program’s 30 priority provinces. Each province has information, such as physical profile, agricultural profile, fishery profile, poverty situation, and project profile from FYs 2017-2019.
- About Us. The page was enhanced to display the program’s four major components and framework.
- Publications. The menu has different pages, which are Press Releases, Books, Annual Reports, SAADvocacy Newsletter, SAADventures Magazine, and Regional Publications, which are being updated once the latest issues are released.
- Director’s Profile. The page introduces the director of the program with his credentials, accomplishments, and qualifications.
- Success Stories. The page featured 11 case studies from Zamboanga del Norte and four from Cotabato, which were presented during the provinces’ SAAD Saga events in 2019.
- Memorandums. The page is an archive of the memorandums and letters released by the SAAD Program.
- Operations Manual. The page contains information and tools essential for the effective implementation of the program, such as the geotagging application, mobile monitoring app, profiling forms, field implementation manual, and logical framework approach.
- Contact Us. The page is a list of all SAAD personnel’s designation and contact information from the national, regional, and provincial offices.
The SAAD Program started its YouTube page on October 2, 2016. It was uploaded with contents in August 2017. As of 2020, the page has 48 videos, which are mostly success stories of farmer-beneficiaries presented during the SAAD Saga events of Zamboanga del Norte, Region 8 (Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte, and Southern Leyte), North Cotabato, and Sarangani.
Each RPMSO also produced videos to show information on their implementation from FYs 2017-2019 as well as feature beneficiaries and projects.
SAAD’s YouTube channel can be accessed at www.tinyurl.com/yc9mq7c8. All videos are also accessible on the program’s website.
9. Others (RPMSO contributions)
Before the year 2020, the RPMSOs were advised to hire Information Officers to produce press releases and publications locally. Regions CAR, Bicol (Region 5), and Eastern Visayas (Region 8) have published newsletters and books, which are uploaded on the SAAD website (Table 2).
Table 2. SAAD RPMSO’s PR and Communications Contributions
|Region 13||3 (bimonthly)||
Table 2 shows that CAR was able to produce three issues of “KasaSAAD” newsletters in 2020. CAR’s publications can be accessed at www.saad.da.gov.ph/car-2/.
Region 5, on the other hand, released two issues of “SAAD Bicol” newsletter, one in 2019 (covering October to December 2019) and one in 2020 (covering January to February 2020). Region 5’s publications can be accessed at www.saad.da.gov.ph/region-5/.
While, Region 8 has the most number of contributions with 21 issues of their monthly newsletter called “Peryodikit”, which was later renamed to “Bandilyo”, and two coffee table books namely: “Upholding the Dignity of Life of Farmers and Fisherfolk” (released in 2018) and “Farmer Heroes of Eastern Visayas” (released in 2019). Region 8’s publications can be accessed at www.saad.da.gov.ph/region-viii/.
Region 13 also produced three issues of their “Tuman newsletter published at www.saad.da.gov.ph/region-13/.
The SAAD Program, through the NPMO-PRCG, will continue to inform the public of its activities (in real-time) and achievements through its current platforms, prints, and online. Media partnerships will also be done to reach a wider audience. ###
Myer Mula, SAAD Program Director
Jhomai Canlas, SAAD NPMO PRCG Head
Colorado State University. 2020. Press Releases. Retrieved from www. writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=75