The Effectiveness of Public Relations Practices in the Oil Sector [A Case Study of African Petroleum Plc]
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of public relations practices of African Petroleum Plc.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The objective of the study are as follows:
- To ascertain the extent of African petroleum’s public messages accessibility to their public.
- To know whether the right public relations media were often used.
- To determine whether AP’s public relations practice influence the opinion of their publics in favour of African petroleum.
- To ascertain whether African petroleum’s public relations department is rated high in terms of its efficiency.
- To find out if the publics of AP plc consider their public relations practices as adequate.
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 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.
History of public relations in the world
Most textbooks consider the establishment of the publicity Bureau in 1900 to be the founding of the public relations profession. However academics have found early forms of public influence and communications management in ancient civilizations, during the setting of the new world and during the movement to abolish slavery in England. Basil Clark is considered the founder of public relations in the United Kingdom for his establishment of Editorial services in 1924, though academic Noel Turn ball believes public relations was founded in Britain first by evangelicals and Victorian reformers.
Propaganda was used by the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and others to rally for domestic support and demonize enemies during the world wars, which led to more sophisticated commercial publicity efforts as public relations talent entered the private sector.
Most historians believe public relations became established first in US by Ivy Lee or Edward Bernays, then spread internationally. Many American companies with Public relations departments spread the practice to Europe when they created European subsidiaries as a result of the Marshall plan.
According to Edward Bernays, one of the pioneers of Public relations, “The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people”. A clay tablet found in ancient Iraq that promoted more advanced agricultural techniques is sometimes considered the first known example of public relations. Babylonian, Egyptian and Persian leaders created pyramids, obelisks and statues to promote their divine right to lead.
According to Noel Turnball, a professor from RMIT University, more systematic forms of public relations began as the public started organizing for social and political movements. The society for effecting the Abolition of the slave Trade was established in England in 1787. It published books, posters and hosted public lectures in England advocating against slavery. Industries that relied on slavery attempted to persuade the middle-class that it was necessary and that slaves
had humane living conditions. The slave trade was abolished in 1807. In the US, the movement to abolish slavery began in 1833 with the establishment of the American Anti- slavery society, using tactics adopted from the British abolitionist movement. According to Edward Bernays, the US abolitionist movement used “every available device of communication, appeal and action”. Such as petitions, pamphlets, political lobbying local societies, and boycotts.
In some cases propaganda promoting the abolition of slavery was forbidden in the south and abolitionists were killed or jailed. Public relations also played a role in abolitionist movement in France, Australia and in Europe.
Public Relations in African
Public relations in Africa can be classified into two:
Ancient and Modern
Ancient practice: This was the pre-colonial practice of public relations.
- How the record and communicate information about religion and government. This written scripts were invented that could be used to record this information such as hieroglyphic and papyrus scrolls.
- How the scribes worked: writing hieroglyphs, keeping government records and writing letters for kings.
- Using communication tools and media: gong, talking drum, moon- light storytelling, folk tales telling, village square gathering, sporting activities.
METHOD OF DATA COLLECTION
The data collection method used in this research work is mainly secondary data collection method include, library research.
Extent of Social Responsibility
Practical experience and survey have shown that all the oil and gas transnational corporations in the Niger Delta accept, and are willing to be socially involved. The only area of disagreement is the extent of social involvement. A lot of observers, commentators, researcher, scholars and even proponents of social responsibility avoid this area as a plague. It may be understandable since the answer to this issue do not lend itself to a simple “yes” or “no”.
Notwithstanding, we can confidently say without prejudice that transnational corporations should emphasise sustainable business practices that invest equally in three things: social, environmental and financial capital. That is, the oil gas transnational corporations should give social and environmental considerations at least as much weight in their decision making as shareholder value (Idemudia, 2009; Robbins and Coulter,2007,115 and Owen,2002). Afterall, there is no clear evidence that corporations which have committed themselves most wholeheartedly to corporate social responsibility have been penalised by investors. Corporate social responsibility is a state of mind that must form part of the core ‘DNA’ of a corporation if it is going to be worthwhile. Ideally, any corporation’s commitment to corporate responsibility will be endorsed by those at the very top of its leadership (Standwick, 2004).
PUBLIC RELATIONS IN THE OIL SECTOR
To skeptics, public relations in corporate social responsibility is merely ‘green washing’ the ‘sin’ of oil and gas transnational corporations, spinning, self-glorification, the latest market fad or a trendy thing, [Rochete, 2009]. Some others see it as the presentation of the good side of transnational corporations, a means of brainwashing the masses, a euphemism for deceit or trickery, a substitute for floppy management, etc [Davis, 2004; Nwosu, 1997 and Jeffers, 1977]. All the above, and sometimes worse are what some people refer to as public relations, though they are not. It is pertinent and imperative to state that public relations play an important role in all oil and gas transnational corporations for none of them can survive the murky water of business without public acceptance.
Despite the barrage of criticism against social responsibility, it has been established that corporate social responsibility has become an increasingly acceptable business strategy of oil and gas translational corporation in oil communities. However, the major concern is on where the boundaries lie. The paper has posited the extent of social involvement of the oil and gas translational corporations. It has also been established that strategy and integrated corporate social responsibility can deliver significance benefits to the oil and gas translational corporations and none of these translational corporations that have been committedly involved in worthy corporate social responsibility programmes, and this has not been disputed. As oil and gas translational corporations embark on well-deserved corporate social responsibility programmes, effective relations strategies must be applied not for self-glorification but to develop and maintain reciprocal relations with the oil communities.
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