Saturday, 7 February 2009

AGM 2009: PRO Report

PRO Report – AGM 7 Feb 2009

Having heard the President’s and the Secretary’s address you might be wondering what else the Pro could say. Well, I am wondering myself. So, please, bear with me for some repetitions

As you could see from the reports you have listened to, most of our Public Relations exercises are in truth carried out by the President and the Secretary, by their several appearances on tv, participation in radio programmes, contributions to the press, the Secretary’s Newsletters, and their participation in endless meetings with the authorities, independent bodies and other NGOs. Their two voices make our opinions and objectives heard in all quarters.

We have indeed issued no less than 17 press releases; and I say ‘we’ because in drawing them up I have been greatly helped by Anne, Romano and Alex. We have taken a position, on our own steam, or in coalition with other NGOs on topics ranging from:

Squatters, in particular those at Armier Bay
Fomm ir-Rih, access to the bay and the ruin of the natural landscape there
Blocked pathways and lack of access to shoreline, as in the case of the Munxar gate
The Bungalows, proposed for Marfa Ridge
The development at Mistra Heights
Ta’ Cenc, Access to new plans
Hondoq ir-Rummien
Ulysses Lodge, Ramla l-Hamra
Riviera Martinique
Ghadira road,
MEPA reform
Smart City
Direct Action taken by Parl Secretaries Jason Azzopardi and Chris Said on the reform of Local Councils
The Catchment of rain water
Fort Cambridge and
The extension to the museum of St John’s cathedral
And the one on Hagar Qim taken care of by Louis

Some of you will have remarked that a couple of these topics are not quite within our remit. True, and the effort not to stretch ourselves given our limited resources, human and others, is a continuous one. But we do feel the need to express solidarity with other NGOs on issues which are of national interest.

There is also no doubt that few of you will have read all these press releases; and this is no fault of yours. Some of our Press releases are uploaded on the online version of the newspapers a few hours after we send them. but then they are not printed in the next day’s edition.

It has to be said also that not all newspapers publish all our Press Releases; indeed some of them seem even rather reluctant to publish them. At times we could be blamed for issuing rather long statements when editors want declarations of only some 200 words – and, well, in 200 words one can hardly develop an argument. Besides, when printed, 200 words fill up three centimetres of a column and nobody notices them.

This insistence for brevity is even greater with radio; and let’s not talk about tv.
So, as you see, Public Relations, from this point of view, are not always easy.

Besides Press Releases we also had an article published in Pocket Malta, the magazine distributed to tourists and another one is in the pipeline for one of the Sunday magazines.

A major activity last year for the environmental education of the young, was the competition among Primary schools who had to prepare two walks within the boundaries of their local council. A panel of 4 committee members visited the 13 participating schools, 3 of them in Gozo, Prizes, in books, given to 5 schools amounted to 1400 euro.

As part of our PR drive we are now trying to create sub-committees for our two main educational institutions, the University and MCAST.

Our main public relations exercise remains, however, our Walks Programme. Our Walk Planners and Walk leaders, Romano in particular, dedicate hours to the planning of each walk, and then have to prepare the write-ups and upload the photos on our blogs.

And yet, the persons we rely on most to sustain our PR efforts are you, our members: who spread around the word about how enjoyable and instructive our walks are, how important our aims and objectives, when you support our efforts with contributions to the press with articles, letters and even with comments on online versions. All this is very much appreciated and gives us great encouragement.

Thank you for your attention and much more for your support.

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