PUBLIC RELATIONS AND IMAGE MAKING IN GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS (A CASE STUDY OF FRCN, ABUJA)
1.1 Background of the study
The importance of public relations in any organization cannot be overemphasized. This is largely buttressed by the fact that the public relations unit of an organization is an important factor which aids in the success of any organization through building and sustaining its corporate image.
In many government parastatals and private organizations whether seeking profit or not in their operations, public relations practitioners and public relations practice play a very important role. As Rensburg and Cant (2003:34) indicate, public relations exist in every company and institution, irrespective of whether or not the company or institution wants it. Within an organization, activities such as phone calls, newsletters, public letters including its everyday encounter with its public, to name only few, form a perception and an image in its public’s minds about the organization. Various images come into the public minds based on how the organisation has identified itself to the public.
According to Lukusa (2009:1) if an organisation’s portrayed identity does not coincide with the image perceived by its public, the organisation’s reputation and corporate image might suffer and as a result this might also affect the management of the entire organisation. The roles of public relations practitioners are thus very important and crucial in building the corporate image of their organisations to the public. These roles contribute to the development, the sustainability and a good functioning of the organisations.
Public relations practitioners’ roles also contribute to identifying, establishing and extending the organisation’s sphere of influence. The practitioner’s roles help in monitoring, controlling and establishing its corporate identity and corporate image.
The image making functions of public relations are principally counseling based on the understanding of human behavior. By analyzing trends and predicting their consequences, through research of public opinion, attitudes and advising a necessary action, public relations establishes and maintains two-way communication based on truth and full information. This is to say that public relations is concerned with maintaining public image for high profile organizations, programs, or individuals (Seitel, 1998:6).
Building the corporate image of an organisation is not an easy task that can be achieved in a day within an organisation by a public relations practitioner. Some industries, financial services, chemicals factories, etc. suffer from a serious (corporate) image problem. In the eyes of many, they are seen as exploiters, inefficient, having fat-cat bosses, etc. Varey (2002: 193).
Meanwhile, according to Dowling (1994: 8) quoted in Varey (2002: 195), corporate identity is the symbols (such as logos, colour scheme) that an organisation uses to identify itself to people. Since corporate image is sometimes deemed as the organisation reputation, therefore, reputation is considered by a growing number of management practitioners and scholars to be an intangible asset that enables the enactment of relationships among the corporation and their public.
The importance of the foregoing according to Nwosu (1992:8) is that: The time has come when professional public relations are made to play its proper role towards promoting the type of positive image which the organization needs. This can be achieved, if the public relations professionals are allowed to influence the policies at the stage of initiation, analysis and preparation of programs.
According to Dozier and Grunig quoted in Grunig et al. (1992: 395), “Public relations must be placed high in the organisation hierarchy and must be practiced strategically if it is to make the more effective and, thus, to be excellent”. Meanwhile, in many existing organisations the roles of public relations practitioners in building the corporate image of the organisation to the public are taken for granted, neglected and even attributed to other departments within the organisations. It should also be noted that, public relations’ roles have become the subject of extensive research by public relations scholars.
Roles define everyday activities of the public relations practitioners and practitioners roles are keys to understanding the functions of public relations in building the image of an organisation to the public. Practitioners’ roles are at the nexus of a network of concepts affecting professional achievement of practitioners (Dozier and San Diego in Grunig et al, 1992: 328).
According to Kitchen (1997: 16), public relations practitioners fail to realise their full potential because of how their roles are perceived within organisations. He adds that the question whether public relations practitioners are allowed by management to fulfill their potential various roles played in organisations are considered, along with implications for the profession (Kitchen, 1997: 7).
It is in the light of the above issues that the research examines among other things, the extent at which roles played by public relations practitioners in building the corporate image of an organisation.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Issues on the role public relations plays in building and sustaining corporate image of an organisation have being an area of importance in public relations research. Scholars are of the view that a corporate image is powerful; it helps to determine how a person will behave towards a company. How that company is perceived a weak or strong, open or dubious, warm or cold, rigid or flexible. The role of PR therefore is to assist in building and protecting an organization’s image (Bernestin, 1984:103).
There are lots of Public criticisms bordering on the attitudes of BIRS staff over tax issues and the nature of tax to be paid. People complain that the organisation does not carryout adequate public education on its activities generally. Also, the organisation is alleged as exploitive since the monies collected by it are allegedly spent by those working there. These sundry criticisms are likely to give a bad image to the organisation.
The problem this study investigates is therefore, how Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria utilizes public relations in building a sustainable corporate image uses public relations strategies in managing its corporate reputation in order to avoid having negative image among its teaming publics.
1.2 Objectives of the study
The broad objectives of this study is to determine the extent to which public relations has been used in building a sustainable corporate image for Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN).
Specifically, the study objectives are:
- To determine whether Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria utilizes public relations in building a sustainable corporate image.
- To ascertain how Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria management is carrying out public relations activities that will enhance and sustain its image.
- To determine the factors which encourage or hinder the practice of public relations in Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria.
- To find out the extent the usage of public relations activities has contributed to the positive image of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria.
1.3 Research questions
Effort will be made to provide relevant answers to the following questions in the course of this research work;
- To what extent does the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria utilize public relations in building a sustainable corporate image?
- How does the management of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria carryout public relations activities?
- What factors encourage or hinder the effective practice of public relations in Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria?
- How has the usage of public relations activities contributed to the image of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria?
1.5 Research hypotheses
Ho: Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeriadoes not utilize public relations in building a sustainable corporate image.
Hi: Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria utilizes public relations in building a sustainable corporate image.
1.6 Significance of the study
This research was conceived in full realization of the various interests it would serve. The corporate institutions and public relations practitioners would likely be activated by the findings to invest their utmost creative abilities in marketing communication- commensurate with current image building challenges facing their esteemed profession.
To the public relations and mass communication students, the study is intended to motivate further study on other much unattended subject matter on product branding, and provide them with a storehouse of knowledge as well as provide direction to enable them exercise high prudence in their daily economic decisions especially on how they brand themselves. The study will also provide corporate marketing executives in Nigeria with an insight into the dynamic nature of image branding activities in the economy.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study is concerned withpublic relations and image making in Government institutions in Nigeria. It is limited to Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Abuja.
1.8 Limitations of Study
- 1. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
- 2. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 Profile of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria
The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria is the pioneer broadcast organization in Nigeria with a rich culture of excellence. The Corporation has evolved through different stages to become what it is today the largest Radio Network in Africa.Available records reveal that Radio Broadcasting was introduced into Nigeria in 1933 by the then Colonial Government. It relayed the overseas service of the British Broadcasting Corporation through wired system with loudspeakers at the listening end.The service was called Radio Diffusion System, RDS.
From the RDS emerged the Nigeria Broadcasting Service, NBS in April 1950. Prior to the NBS, the Colonial Government had commissioned the Nigeria Broadcasting Survey undertaken by Messrs Byron and Turner which recommended the establishment of stations in Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu, lbadan and Kano. Mr. T.W. Chalmers, a Briton and Controller of the BBC Light Entertainment Programmewas the first Director-General of the NBS.
The Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, NBC came into being in April 1957 through an Act of Parliament No. 39 of 1956. The Director General was Mr. J.A.C Knott OBE.In 1978, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation was re-organized to become the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN. The NBC was instructed to handover its stations that broadcast on Medium Wave frequencies in the States to the State Governments and it took over Short Wave Transmitters from the States. The Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria, BCNN, was merged with the NBC stations in Lagos, Ibadan and Enugu to become the present day FRCN. The Reverend Victor Badejo was the first indigenous Director-General of Radio Nigeria.
The present Management of the FRCN has transformed the Corporation to truly “Uplift the People and Unite the Nation”, a responsive radio catering for the diverse needs of Nigerians.
Today the FRCN, as a public service broadcaster, with its headquarters in Abuja, has Zonal Stations in Enugu, Ibadan, Kaduna, Gombe, Yenagoa and GwagwaladaFCT, plus a Lagos Operations Office. These Zonal Stations and Lagos Operations Office, control all the 37 FRCN FM/MW/SW stations spread across the country reaching more than 100 million listeners, broadcasting in 15 languages, catering for the diverse broadcasting needs of a multi-ethnic Nigeria, Uplifting the People and Uniting the Nation.
The Corporation also has five of its stations streaming live audio on the Internet at www.radionigeria.gov.ng thus reaching millions more in the world.
1.10 Definition of Terms
Public Relations: Is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public.
Image Making:One who uses the techniques of advertising or public relations to create a favorable view, as of a person or an institution.
Government Institutions:An established organization or foundation, especially one dedicated to education, public service, or culture run by government.