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Barbados Uncensored

Beyond the News, Inside the Issues

The Ellis Appeal and Government’s Counterproductive Covid Communications Strategy

Sep 14, 2021

The appointment of retired journalist David Ellis as communications advisor to the covid-19 communications effort will not do much to solve the residual vaccine resistance problem still present in Barbados.

Since journalists are immersed in communication, it is understandable why many organizations recruit them as PR officers or whatever fancy title they are given.  They are employed, for the most part, because of their ready-made contacts with the media houses and their comfort level with presenting to the public.

The purpose of this is to ease media access; it does not necessarily mean that those recruited understand communications strategy, far less persuasive marketing communications.

True journalists, unlike mere reporters and announcers, are expected to go beyond presenting the facts and attempt to critically assess them. This where Mr. Ellis has made his mark.

If Mr. Ellis is true to himself, we can expect some level of friction with his bosses, even though it may very well be concealed. God knows that there are already enough controversial issues over covid-19 vaccines to generate rivers of divide. 

But then again, as the wise man noted “money speaks to everything.” (Ecclesiastes 10:19, New International Version).   

Mr. Ellis’ engagement is no doubt intended to help a covid-19 weary government persuade residual vaccine “hesitants” and vaccine refuseniks to take the jab.  The emphasis is on “persuade”.

Competent performance in this assignment requires Mr. Ellis to cross over from journalistic communications to marketing communications which, as we have hinted above, is designed to be persuasive. 

In order to assess whether Mr. Ellis can give any help as he claims he can, we must first note that government’s current covid-19 communications strategy is flawed because it is has been relying, for the most part, on what we call in communications theory, peripheral route persuasion. 

Incidentally, this strategic faux pas also explains why government continues to hire people on the basis of irrelevant criteria, source incompetent people to head organizations and make boo boos such as the tourism advertisement fiasco.   Nepotism, cronyism and pure snobbery are the worst enemies of progress in this banana republic. But we are digressing.

Government’s covid-19 communications strategy is flawed because it is predicated on manifest ignorance of and/ or disregard for, the characteristics and understandings of the audience as vaccine consumers. It was precisely a consumer orientation that was used to explain hesitancy with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. The article  can be  found here.  

We cannot fault the government for being zealous about beating the virus. But those who know the Scripture  understand that one can have a “zeal [for God] but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2 Berean Literal Bible).

While the Supreme Communications Czar may have the “gift of gab”, an overrated ability in this country, an understanding of higher level communications principles is manifestly lacking. Only a miasmatic audience will be unable to see this, of course.

As a consequence of this ignorance or disregard, recent covid-19 communications have relied too much on fear and personality appeals.

Therefore, covid-19 communications have now reached the “over-communication” stage and is teetering very dangerously into propaganda territory.

It is reliance on personalities that partly explains why these “communication czars” are replaced so frequently. When the initial effect of one personality wears off, new magic must be found in the person of some other VIP. Hence Mr. Ellis’ appointment; ergo the backgrounding of Liz Thompson, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, etc.

We are willing to admit that some of this shuffling may be due to fatigue but that in itself may be due to working harder rather than smarter. 

Regrettably, Barbados is a country steeped in personality cultism. This is not only a sign of creeping idolatry but a symptom of an enduring massa-slave complex as well as an indication that we are intellectually immature as a nation, despite all the formal education that we claim to have.

Very few people are prepared to take the time to THINK and break through the veil of personality to deal with the facts in front of their noses far less those that are implied. Over forty years of experience in higher education teaching and assessment tells me that.

Yet some of the social media comments we are seeing suggests that there is still some hope of redemption.    

I am not going to help Mr. Ellis earn his alleged $15,000 monthly remuneration which is just some $2,000 shy of a minister’s salary.  I have said enough already. But if our assessment of the situation is correct, his appointment is yet another blatant waste of the taxpayers’ money.  

If Mr. Ellis is as smart as we think he is, his shelf-life may very well outlast that of his predecessors and his bank account rejoice at the same.  On the other hand, if he is true to himself, he will soon make himself redundant!






Dr. Aldon D. Tull is a retired educator who holds the Master of Science in International Marketing from Strathclyde University, Scotland and a Doctor of Education from Sheffield University, England.

He can be reached at 246-228-3720 or Whatsapp 246-846-3191

By Editor

6 thoughts on “The Ellis Appeal and Government’s Counterproductive Covid Communications Strategy”
  1. Well expressed Dr Tull. Journalism must be balanced with reports for the pros, cons, unsure or do not know and the right to democracy where a country states that it is a democratic country. The biggest untruth about the jab is that it can save your life. In reality, medicine has alleviated pain etc. but it has never saved anyone because only God (if we believe HE exists) can do that. He is the Author and the Finisher (Aloha and Omega). If a person is unhealthy because of certain deficiencies, for example, lack of nutrition , potable water, sunlight etc. no amount of medicine will aid that person since medication, vitamins etc need something to work with. Another untruth is that tourists are not coming because of the unvaccinated. So why have some tourists from the UK refusedto tour Barbados because they are being told that they must be vaccinated? Administrations seem not to realize that oversaturation of any intended target kills it. Many of my relatives, friends and acquainrances are simply suffering from overexhaustion constantly hearing about COVID -19 and diverse jabs so we leave one radio on local news and tune into inspirational items on other mediums in our respective homes.

  2. Brilliantly written of course with clever words to get the writers point over. Though I may agree to some extent I will say that many years ago we’ve taken so many vaccines with some of us still carrying the marks on our arms to this day. However we still don’t know this virus to the extent of many becoming scientists and experts while at the same time people dying of the virus, what we must try to understand is how many deaths we have had to deal with and as to how many living amongst us that took the vaccine and living.

    We have to make a decision for ourselves and our children and bare the full responsibility should anyone dies. Now about Mr. Ellis and how much money he’s getting does not bother me because he was asked by his country to do a job he’s well learnt for and had to make a difficult decision to accept it or not. Regardless of who does it, we have a crisis involving this pandemic with a great percentage of our country not in taking the shot adding more complications to those who took the shot and also not taken it. This virus is dangerous and should I die from it, I still had to make a decision for my family that they don’t end up with tubes hanging from their faces.
    All I know is if companies don’t show signs of growth and the big layoffs begins, it will be more damaging than anything we’ve seen. The tourists will not come if they know hotel workers not vaccinated and those other locals who are vaccinated will limit their association adding more division amongst us. This will affect our economy and ability to prosper. I pray that we over come this menace, we all need to not leave God out and allow the churches to make a larger impact than how we’ve dealt with in this pandemic ?

  3. A superlatively well written article by Dr. Aldon Tull.

    He has in fact clearly and adeptly opinioned that a Government that has obviously failed in its proactive strategy to manage Covid-19 has NO OTHER CHOICE THAN to try now to give the population SOON TO BE ASKED TO VOTE, another buttered message to bewitch the minds of a well woke voting population

  4. This is an absolutely brilliant article. Dr. Tull has hit all the right points and exposed the miamatic folly for what it is.

    There are no real journalists in Barbados and any thought that Ellis can be more persuasive than mia is nothing more than a myth.

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