The Role of Public Relations in Achieving Organizational Objectives
Objectives of the Study
- To examine some of the core objectives of the Nigerian Brewery Ibadan.
- To find out the extent at which public relations unit/department has held Nigerian Brewery in the actualisation of its objectives.
REVIEWED OF RELATED LITERATURE
The concept of public relations
Wilcox and Cameron (2009:5) explain that people often define public relations by some of its visible techniques and tactics, such as publicity in a newspaper, a television interview with an organisation’s spokesperson, or the appearance of a celebrity at a special event. What people fail to understand is that public relations is a process involving many subtle and far-reaching aspects. Public relations includes research and analysis, policy formation, programming, communication, and feedback from numerous publics. Its practitioners operate on two distinct levels – as advisers to their clients or to an organisation’s top management and as technicians who produce and disseminate messages in multiple media channels. Public relations is, therefore, a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance, and cooperation between an organisation and its publics; involves the management of 9 problems or issues; helps management keep informed on and responsive to public opinion; defines and emphasises the responsibility of management to serve the public interest; helps management keep abreast of and effectively utilise change, serving as an early warning system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and sound ethical communication techniques as its principal tool. Davis (2004:202) argues that the home for public relations functions is still not clear in most organisations. Wilcox and Cameron (2009:5) contend that public relations practitioners serve as an intermediary between the organisation and all the publics that exist in the organisation. Theaker (2004:6) further claims that public relations, as a discipline, is concerned with the reputation of organisations (or product, services or individuals) with the aim of creating understanding and support. Koekemoer (2004:397) argues that the differing concepts of public relations reflect the evolution of this maturing function in organisations and society. The above authors all indicate the struggle of an emerging profession seeking its unique identity. The evolution of the concept and the numerous descriptions of the practice lead us to the definitions of public relations. These various definitions are important as they are indicative of the rapidly changing roles of public relations. Seitel (2004:3) defines public relations as a planned process to influence public opinion, through sound character and proper performance, based on mutual satisfactory twoway communication. Lattimore, Baskin, Heiman and Toth (2004:5), on the other hand, define public relations as a leadership and management function that helps achieve organisational objectives, define philosophy, and facilitate organisational change. Johnston and Zawawi (2004:6) add that public relations is the ethical and strategic management of communication and relationships in order to build and develop coalitions and policy, identify and manage issues and create direct messages to achieve sound outcomes within a socially responsible framework. Focussing specifically on the South African context, the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) (2005) defines public relations as the management, through communication, of perceptions and strategic relationships between an organisation and its internal and external stakeholders. 10 Moloney (2000:6) argues that public relations is too multifaceted to be incorporated into a single definition, but that its effect on society demands extensive investigation regardless. He suggests that public relations can be defined differently as a ‘concept’ (communication management by an organisation with its publics), as a ‘practice’ (mostly dealing with the media) and in terms of its effects on society (a category of persuasive communication undertaken through the mass media or through private lobbying by groups to advance their material or ideological interests). Center, Jackson, Smith and Stansberry (2008:9) highlight a formal three part definition of public relations, which states that public relations is a condition common to every individual and organisation in the human environment. Firstly, public relations is the systemized function that evaluates public attitudes and behaviours; harmonises the goals, policies and procedures of an individual or organisation with the public interest; and executes a program of action to earn public understanding, acceptance and supportive behaviour. Secondly, public relations is the full flowering of the democratic principle, in which every member of society is valued for himself or herself and has both a right and a duty to express an opinion on public issues and in which policies are made on the basis of free exchange of those opinions that result in public consent. Thirdly, public relations is something everyone has; public relations fosters the improvement of public relationships through specific activities and policies. National and international public relations’ organisations have formulated definitions of public relations. According to Wilcox and Cameron (2009:6), “the British Institute of Public Relations defines public relations as influencing behaviours to achieve objectives through the effective management of relationships and communication”. On the other hand the British Institute of Public Opinion defines public relation as “the deliberate, planned, and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and all its publics”. Cutlip et al. (2000:5) state that the Dansk Public Relations Klub of Denmark maintains that “public relations is the sustained and systematic managerial effort through which private and public organisations seek to establish understanding, sympathy and support in those public circles with which they have or expect to establish contact”. 11 It can be acknowledged that there are literally hundreds of definitions of public relations. Thus organisations should carefully study these definitions and be able to pin-point one that will reflect their organisation’s vision, mission, objectives and overall values as practiced by their organisation. Wilcox and Cameron (2009:6), therefore, reinforce that there are key words to remember in the above definitions such as: deliberate, planned, publics and stakeholders, management. Deliberate implies that public relations activities are intentional. They are designed to influence, gain understanding, provide information and obtain feedback and reaction from those affected by the activities. Planned implies that public relations activities are organised. Therefore, solutions to problems are discovered and logistics are thought out, with activities taking place over a period of time. It is systematic, requiring research and analysis. Publics or stakeholders refer to everyone affected by the activities. Public relations activities should be mutually beneficial to these publics. Management implies that public relations is most effective when it is an integral part of decision making by top management. Here public relations is involved in counselling and solving problems at high levels, not just the dissemination of information after a decision has been made. Seitel (2001:4) reinforces that the definitions of public relations will always differ, but almost all will agree that good public relations requires a firm base of theoretical knowledge, a strong sense of ethical judgment, solid communication skills and, above all, an uncompromising attitude of professionalism. Public relations evolved over many years to become a discipline but only recently in the last century has it received more prominence in the corporate world. Skinner et al. (2004: 19) claim that we are inclined to think of public relations as a 20th century phenomenon, but efforts to communicate with others and to deal with the force of opinion go back to antiquity. Rensburg and Cant (2009: 31) maintain that public relations as it is practised today originated in the United States. To a large extent the development of public relations in the rest of the world has been influenced by developments in the United States of America. For example, Americans have been using Press Agentry and other publicity methods for some time. This has led others to follow this trend and to manufacture news and use stunts and gimmicks to gain 12 attention. Public relations was later employed to defend powerful US business interests against negative journalism and government relations. The emphasis was on ‘telling our story’ to ensure that the public sees the other side of the story. Ravindran (2000: 2) states that the concept of public relations as one-way persuasive communication continued to dominate as the United States entered World War I and created the committee of Public Information. Headed by George Creel, the committee was responsible for uniting public opinion behind the war efforts through an extensive nationwide propaganda campaign. Seitel (2001:9) argues that during these early years, public relations was viewed as a publicity effort to influence others. Furthermore, various communication media such as advertising, films and exhibitions were used to such an extent that people eventually talked of ‘the words that won the war’. Rensburg and Cant (2009: 29) reinforce that public relations as we know it today is much younger than many other disciplines. The relative newness of this practice means that the field is still evolving and its status is continuously improving. Therefore, a closer look into the early history of public relations is essential as it will clearly indicate the development of the public relations.
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 the role of public relations in achieving organisational objectives. Nigeria Brewery Plc, Ibadan 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 the role of public relations in achieving organisational objectives. 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 the challenges of the role of public relations in achieving organisational objectives
This study was on the role of public relations in achieving organisational objectives. Two objectives were raised which included: To examine some of the core objectives of the Nigerian Brewery Ibadan and to find out the extent at which public relations unit/department has held Nigerian Brewery in the actualisation of its objectives. A total of 77 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents were drawn from Nigeria Brewery Plc. Hypothesis was tested using Chi-Square statistical tool (SPSS).
In conclusion, the role of public relations in achieving organizational objectives is crucial and multifaceted. Throughout this study, we have explored the various ways in which public relations contributes to the success of organizations by building and maintaining positive relationships with stakeholders, managing reputation, and facilitating effective communication.
Firstly, public relations plays a pivotal role in building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders. By engaging with key stakeholders such as customers, employees, investors, media, and the community, organizations can establish trust, credibility, and goodwill. Through strategic communication initiatives, public relations professionals ensure that stakeholders are informed, involved, and have a positive perception of the organization.
Secondly, public relations is instrumental in managing organizational reputation. A strong and positive reputation is a valuable asset for any organization, influencing consumer trust, attracting investors, and fostering positive relationships with the community. Public relations professionals work proactively to shape and protect the organization’s reputation through strategic messaging, crisis management, and stakeholder engagement.
Thirdly, public relations facilitates effective communication both internally and externally. Internally, public relations ensures that employees are well-informed, engaged, and aligned with the organization’s objectives. This contributes to a positive organizational culture, enhances employee morale, and improves overall productivity. Externally, public relations professionals utilize various communication channels and tactics to convey key messages, promote the organization’s brand, and foster positive relationships with external stakeholders.
Furthermore, public relations plays a vital role in managing issues and crises that may arise. Through effective crisis communication strategies, organizations can mitigate reputational damage, provide timely and accurate information, and restore stakeholder confidence. Public relations professionals serve as the organization’s spokespersons during challenging times, managing communication channels, and maintaining transparency.
Overall, the study highlights the significant impact of public relations in achieving organizational objectives. By leveraging strategic communication, relationship-building, reputation management, and crisis communication, public relations contributes to the overall success and sustainability of organizations.
To maximize the role of public relations in achieving organizational objectives, it is recommended that organizations invest in skilled and experienced public relations professionals, integrate public relations into strategic planning processes, and foster a culture of open communication and transparency. By recognizing the value of public relations and its strategic importance, organizations can enhance their reputation, strengthen relationships with stakeholders, and ultimately achieve their objectives more effectively.
Based on the study’s findings on the role of public relations in achieving organizational objectives, the following recommendations are proposed:
- Integrate Public Relations into Strategic Planning: Organizations should incorporate public relations as an integral part of their strategic planning processes. This involves aligning public relations goals and activities with the overall organizational objectives to ensure consistent messaging and cohesive communication strategies.
- Invest in Skilled Public Relations Professionals: Organizations should recognize the importance of having skilled and experienced public relations professionals on their teams. Hiring and retaining talented individuals with strong communication, relationship-building, and crisis management skills will contribute to the effectiveness of public relations efforts.
- Conduct Stakeholder Analysis: Organizations should conduct regular stakeholder analysis to identify key stakeholders and understand their needs, expectations, and concerns. This will enable public relations professionals to develop tailored communication strategies and engagement initiatives that address the specific interests of different stakeholder groups.
- Foster a Culture of Transparency and Open Communication: Organizations should prioritize transparency and open communication both internally and externally. By fostering a culture that encourages honest and timely communication, organizations can build trust, credibility, and strong relationships with stakeholders.
- Continuously Monitor and Evaluate Communication Efforts: Regular monitoring and evaluation of public relations activities and communication efforts are essential to gauge their effectiveness and make necessary adjustments. Organizations should utilize metrics and feedback mechanisms to assess the impact of public relations initiatives on achieving organizational objectives.
- Embrace Digital Platforms and Social Media: Organizations should leverage digital platforms and social media to enhance their public relations efforts. These channels provide opportunities for direct engagement with stakeholders, dissemination of information, and building an online presence. Public relations professionals should stay updated on emerging trends and technologies to effectively utilize digital platforms.
- Invest in Crisis Communication Preparedness: Organizations should proactively invest in crisis communication preparedness. This involves developing comprehensive crisis communication plans, conducting crisis simulations, and providing training to key personnel. By being prepared to effectively manage crises, organizations can protect their reputation and minimize potential damage.
- Collaborate with Other Departments: Public relations should collaborate closely with other departments within the organization, such as marketing, human resources, and legal, to ensure consistency in messaging and a coordinated approach. This collaboration will strengthen the overall communication efforts and contribute to achieving organizational objectives.
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