A Comparative Assessment of Public Relations Function in the Nigerian Banking System and Government Parastatals
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this research is to make a comparative assessment of public relations functions in the Nigerian banking system and government parastatals. Specifically, other objectives of this study are:
1) To examine the features of public relations(PR) activities as is being practiced by the Nigeria banks and government parastatals.
2) To ascertain the differences in the approach to PR activities/ programmes by the Nigerian banks and government parastatals.
3) To ascertain how the different approach to PR activities affect the corporate images of the Nigerian banks and government parastatals.
4) To suggest strategies for harmonizing the PR practice in Nigerian banks and government parastatals so as to enhance the operational efficiency of these organizations.
REVIEWED OF RELATED LITERATURE
The Concept of Public Relations
Public relations is defined as a unique management function that uses communication to help manage relationships with key publics. Charles Okigbo sees public relations as instrument of management and therefore it should be taken into account, when i formulating policies. The fact remains that public relations has witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly in the interpretation and definitions. Nwosu (1996) defines public relations as that management function that identifies the interest, needs, want and expectations of the internal and external publics of the organization, on the other hand and then works out a planned and systematic programme of ACTION and COMMUNICATIONS, aimed at building mutual understanding, mutual respect, mutual recognition, peace and harmony between the organization and its publics to ensure mutual satisfaction, greater productivity and improve work ethics. The International Public Relations Association (IPRA) perceives public relations as “Function of a continuing and planned character through which private organization and institutions seek to win support of those whom they may be concerned by evaluating public opinion about themselves.
Disadvantages of Public Relations
While public relations hold many advantages for marketers, there are also concerns when using this promotional technique. First, While public relations uses many of the same channels as advertising, such as Newspaper, Magazines, Audio, Television and Internet, it differs significantly from advertising in that, marketers do not have direct control over whether a message is delivered and where it is placed for delivery. For instance, a marketer may spend many hours talking with a magazine writer, who is preparing in industry story, only to find that that their company is never mentioned in the article. Second, while other promotional messages are carefully crafted and distributed as written through a pre-determined placement in a media vehicle, public relations generally conveys information to a member of the news media (e.g. reporter) who then recrafts the i information as part of a news story or feature. Thus, the final message may not be precisely what the marketer planned. Third, while public relations campaign has the potential to yield a high return on promotional expense, it also has the potential to produce the opposite if the news media feels there is little value in running a story pitched ( i.e., suggested via communication with the news outlet) by the marketer. Fourth, while public relations there is always a chance that a well devised news event or release will get “bumped” from planned media coverage because of a more critical breaking news story, such as wars, severe weather or serious crime. Finally, in some areas of the world the impact of traditional news outlets is fading forcing public relations professionals to scramble to find new ways to reach their target markets.
Model of Public Relations Management
A model is a simplified representation of some aspects of the real world. It may be an actual physical representative. According to Nwosu (1996:9) a model can be seen simply as a theoretical construct used to describe and explain complex phenomena or processes, usually to guide understanding, decision and action.”This conceptual model will be adopted in studying public relations practice. These are word models that try to: 1, Clarify and simplify our concept of public relations. 2, Identify important aspects of public relations. 3, Help in the flow of communication between one another by focusing on essential features of social life. i 4, Direct our efforts to understand public relations more by suggesting what is important and unimportant. 5, Suggest explanations for organization policy and action and predict its consequences (Davitz et al 1967). The RACE model shall be adopted for the purpose of this study. Nwosu (1996:1) describes model as “an acronym built from its component, it is the same time an explanatory model in that it tries to explain the public relations process and an applicatory model because it can be applied by public relations practitioner as a practical model that can be used as a guide in systematically planning and executing specific public relations projects or programmes.
In this chapter, we described the research procedure for this study. A research methodology is a research process adopted or employed to systematically and scientifically present the results of a study to the research audience viz. a vis, the study beneficiaries.
Research designs are perceived to be an overall strategy adopted by the researcher whereby different components of the study are integrated in a logical manner to effectively address a research problem. In this study, the researcher employed the survey research design. This is due to the nature of the study whereby the opinion and views of people are sampled. According to Singleton & Straits, (2009), Survey research can use quantitative research strategies (e.g., using questionnaires with numerically rated items), qualitative research strategies (e.g., using open-ended questions), or both strategies (i.e., mixed methods). As it is often used to describe and explore human behaviour, surveys are therefore frequently used in social and psychological research.
POPULATION OF THE STUDY
According to Udoyen (2019), a study population is a group of elements or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex or specific interest. The emphasis on study population is that it constitutes of individuals or elements that are homogeneous in description.
This study was carried to examine a comparative assessment of public relations function in the Nigerian banking system and government parastatals”. staff of Anammco LTD and All States Trust Bank in Lagos form the population of the study.
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
This chapter presents the analysis of data derived through the questionnaire and key informant interview administered on the respondents in the study area. The analysis and interpretation were derived from the findings of the study. The data analysis depicts the simple frequency and percentage of the respondents as well as interpretation of the information gathered. A total of eighty (80) questionnaires were administered to respondents of which only seventy-seven (77) were returned and validated. This was due to irregular, incomplete and inappropriate responses to some questionnaire. For this study a total of 77 was validated for the analysis.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain a comparative assessment of public relations function in the Nigerian banking system and government parastatals”. In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing comparative assessment of public relations function in the Nigerian banking system and government parastatals.
This study was on comparative assessment of public relations function in the Nigerian banking system and government parastatals. Four objectives were raised which included: To examine the features of public relations(PR) activities as is being practiced by the Nigeria banks and government parastatals, to ascertain the differences in the approach to PR activities/ programmes by the Nigerian banks and government parastatals, to ascertain how the different approach to PR activities affect the corporate images of the Nigerian banks and government parastatals and to suggest strategies for harmonizing the PR practice in Nigerian banks and government parastatals so as to enhance the operational efficiency of these organizations.. A total of 77 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents were drawn from staff of Anammco LTD and All States Trust Bank. Hypothesis was tested using Chi-Square statistical tool (SPSS).
In conclusion, the comparative assessment of the public relations function in the Nigerian banking system and government parastatals reveals several important findings.
Firstly, both the banking system and government parastatals recognize the significance of public relations in maintaining a positive image and fostering strong relationships with their respective stakeholders. They understand the need for effective communication and engagement strategies to promote transparency, trust, and credibility.
Secondly, while there are similarities in the overarching goals of public relations in both sectors, there are also notable differences in their approaches and challenges. The banking system, driven by competition and profit-making, tends to focus on enhancing customer satisfaction, building brand reputation, and attracting investors. On the other hand, government parastatals emphasize citizen engagement, public service delivery, and accountability to taxpayers.
Thirdly, the study highlights the varying levels of resources and expertise allocated to public relations in the two sectors. Banks, being profit-oriented entities, often invest significantly in building dedicated public relations departments or engaging external PR agencies. In contrast, government parastatals may face budgetary constraints and a lack of specialized PR personnel, which can impede the effectiveness of their public relations efforts.
Additionally, the study underscores the impact of regulatory frameworks and public perception on the practice of public relations. Banks, operating within a highly regulated industry, must navigate strict compliance requirements and maintain public trust in the face of potential reputational risks. Government parastatals, on the other hand, may face greater scrutiny from the public due to issues such as corruption, bureaucracy, and inefficiency.
To enhance the public relations function in both sectors, the study recommends several key strategies. These include the establishment of clear communication policies and guidelines, the cultivation of skilled PR professionals, fostering collaboration between departments, leveraging digital media and technology for effective communication, and conducting regular stakeholder feedback and engagement.
In conclusion, the comparative assessment of public relations in the Nigerian banking system and government parastatals highlights the importance of effective communication and stakeholder engagement in both sectors. By implementing the recommended strategies and addressing sector-specific challenges, both the banking system and government parastatals can enhance their public relations function, foster trust, and achieve their organizational objectives in a mutually beneficial manner.
Based on the findings of the study on the comparative assessment of public relations function in the Nigerian banking system and government parastatals, the following recommendations are provided:
- Develop Clear Communication Policies and Guidelines: Both sectors should establish comprehensive communication policies and guidelines that outline the objectives, principles, and strategies of their public relations efforts. These policies should address issues such as transparency, responsiveness, and consistency in communication, ensuring that all stakeholders are well-informed.
- Cultivate Skilled PR Professionals: It is crucial for both sectors to invest in building a competent and specialized public relations workforce. This can be achieved through training programs, workshops, and professional development opportunities. By equipping PR professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge, organizations can enhance their capacity to effectively manage public relations activities.
- Foster Collaboration between Departments: Effective public relations requires collaboration between different departments within an organization. Banks and government parastatals should encourage cross-functional teamwork, involving departments such as marketing, customer service, legal, and finance in PR initiatives. This collaborative approach ensures a holistic and integrated communication strategy.
- Leverage Digital Media and Technology: Both sectors should embrace digital media platforms and technology to amplify their public relations efforts. This includes utilizing social media, websites, blogs, and other digital channels to disseminate information, engage with stakeholders, and monitor public sentiment. Technology tools such as data analytics and monitoring software can also provide valuable insights for PR strategies.
- Conduct Regular Stakeholder Feedback and Engagement: Banks and government parastatals should prioritize stakeholder engagement by actively seeking feedback, conducting surveys, and organizing forums for dialogue. This practice helps organizations understand the expectations, concerns, and needs of their stakeholders, enabling them to tailor their communication and service delivery accordingly.
- Address Sector-Specific Challenges: Each sector should address their unique challenges in public relations. Banks should focus on building and maintaining trust in a highly regulated environment, addressing customer concerns promptly, and enhancing transparency in financial communications. Government parastatals should prioritize citizen engagement, improve public perception by addressing corruption and inefficiency, and ensure effective communication of public service initiatives.
- Monitor and Evaluate PR Performance: Both sectors should establish mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the performance of their public relations function. This involves setting key performance indicators (KPIs) and conducting regular assessments to measure the effectiveness of PR strategies. The findings from these evaluations can inform future improvements and adjustments to communication approaches.
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