EFFECT OF PUBLIC RELATIONS ON CUSTOMERS’ PREFERENCE FOR GLOBAL SYSTEM FOR MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS (GSM) SERVICES: A CASE STUDY OF MTN NIGERIA PLC, CALABAR

ABSTRACT

This research examined the effect of public relations on customers’ preference for Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) services: a case study of MTN Nigeria Plc, Calabar. The study was conducted to provide empirical evidence on the relationship between public relations and customers’ preference for GSM services in order to assist MTN Nigeria Plc to gain customers’ preference by creating and maintaining cordial relations with its stakeholders. It had the specific objectives of examining the effect of customer relations, employee relations, community relations and corporate social responsibility on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN Nig Plc, Calabar. The research design adopted for this study was the cross-sectional survey research design. The research instrument used for this study was the structured Questionnaire. Analytical techniques comprising simple tables, percentages and the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient in the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS version 20.0) were used to analyze the data collected. The results obtained from the study showed that: customer relations, community relations, employee relations and corporate social responsibility had significant positive effects on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc. Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations were made:  MTN Nigeria plc should strive to establish and sustain friendly and mutually beneficial relationships with its customers in order to more effectively understand them and meet their communication needs effectively, the Company should invest resources in community developmental projects and corporate social responsibility practices in order to establish and maintain good corporate image, which is an essential determinant of customers’ preference, and the Company should establish and maintain friendly and harmonious relationships with its employees. (Word count: 250)


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Pages

TITLE PAGE                                                                                                           

DEDICATION                                                                                               i          

DECLARATION                                                                                           ii         

CERTIFICATION PAGE                                                                              iii        

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                                                                           iv        

ABSTRACT                                                                                                   vi        

TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                               vii       

LIST OF TABLES                                                                                         x

LIST OF FIGURES                                                                                       xiii

 CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1              Background of the study                                                                   

1.2              Statement of the problem                                                                   

1.3              Objectives of the study                                                                      

1.4              Research questions                                                                            

1.5              Research hypotheses                                                                          

1.6              Significance of the study                                                                   

1.7              Scope of the study                                                                             

1.8              Limitations of the study                                                                    

1.9              History of MTN NG Plc                                                        

1.10        Operational definition of terms                                                          

           References                                          

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK        

2.1    Theoretical framework                         

2.1.1 Open system model of public relations                                                            

2.2.   Concept of public relations                                                                                           

2.2.1   Objectives of public relations                                                                         

2.2.2   Publics of public relations                                                                                          

2.2.3   Public relations process                                                                                              

2.2.4    Publics relations tools of MTN Ng plc                                              

2.2.5   Roles of public relations in promotion                                                                       

2.2.6   Customer relations and customers’ preference                                                           

2.2.7   Community relations and customers’ preference                                           

2.2.8    Employee relations and customers’ preference                                                         

2.2.9   Corporate responsibility and customers’ preference                                      

2.2.10 Conceptual framework of effect of public relations on customer preference of  MTN Ng plc

2.3      Empirical review

2.4      Summary of review of related literature                                                         

            References     

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.1   Research design                                                                                     

3.2   The study area                                                                                        

3.3   Population of the study                                                                          

3.4   Determination of sample size                                                                

3.5   Sampling technique                                                                               

3.6   sources and methods of data collection                                     

3.7   Instrumentation                                                                                      

3.8   Validity of research instrument 

3.9   Reliability of research instrument                                              

3.9   Data analysis Technique                                                                        

        References                                                                                             

CHAPTER FOUR: PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS

4.1       Data presentation and interpretation

4.2       Data analysis  

4.3       Test of hypotheses

4.4       Discussion of findings

            References

 

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1       Summary of findings

5.2       Conclusion

5.3       Recommendations

            Bibliography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the study

            The purpose of public relations practice is to establish a two-way communication seeking common ground or areas to mutual interest, and to establish understanding based on the true knowledge and full information. The scale of activity to promote good public relations may vary considerably according to the size and nature of the interested parties, but the philosophy, and strategy and methods will be similar whether the public relations programme is designed to influence international understanding or to improve relations between a service-provider and its customers (Nwude & Uduji, 2013). Lenka, Suar and Mohapatra (2009) observe that public relations is a term that is wildly misunderstood and misused to describe anything from selling to hosting, when in fact, it is a very specific communication process. Every company, organization, association and government body deals with groups of people affected by what that organization does or says (Simeon, 2012).

            Sharma and Rao (2010) observe that they might be employees, customer’s stockholders, competition suppliers or just the general population of consumers a company interacts with on-a daily basis, and these groups may be referred to as one of the origination’s publics and hence impact of are impacted by the organization’s activities. Sharma and Rao (2010) therefore maintain that public relations manages the organization’s relationship with these publics. Importantly, governments, companies and organizations know they must consider the public impact of their actions and decisions because of the powerful effect of public opinion. This is why Rehman and Ahamed (2008) suggest that in times of crisis, emergency or disaster, public relations is especially needed to handle public opinion and hence, limit the negative impact it could have on the organization. However, this is also true for major policy decision concerning changes in business management, pricing policies, labour negotiations, introduction of new products or changes in distribution methods. Each of these decisions affects different groups in different ways. In other words, efficient and affective public relations managers can use the power of these groups opinion to bring about positive changes. Similarly, Odu and Ihejiamiazu (2000) assert that it is crystal that the purpose of everything labelled ‘public relations’ is to influence public opinion towards building good will and positive reputation for the organization or company.

            The service industry in Nigeria is increasingly becoming complex with emerging issues and challenges that require creative and imaginative solutions from those involved. With the ongoing process of globalization, access to information through the ever-dynamic communication technologies are exposing individuals to new realities that promote new tastes, expectations and demands on product and services providers in p laces like Nigeria (Odu & Ihejiamiazu, 2000). Nwagbara (2001) opines that for the business sector competition  is getting stiffer by the day, the challenges to remain profitable in business with appreciable public support and understanding are indeed enormous due to growing national and international competitions complex and challenging operational climate, hostile surrounding communities, growing expectations, security issues, depressed nature of the economy, increasing rates of poverty among the general population, rising costs of production, unending  demands from labour, unpredictable government policies, expensive media services etc. These and many more, Nwagbara (2001) identifies as issues that continue to chalets the performance of companies and other private sector concerns in Nigeria. In other words, management of business has to deal with complex environmental issues that affect their business in continuously changing and challenging circumstances like what we are currently experiencing in Nigeria.

            Thus, multiple institutional strategies that include effective public relations are evolved and implemented to ensure that their businesses succeed and the public understands and appreciates their existence. Among the most effective and highly reliable options for achieving such objectives, as contained in Anyim, Chidi and Badejo (2012), is the public relations units. Such units, they asserts, facilitate an organization’s capacity to anticipate and adapt to societal demands and trends that positively impact on company’s image and reputation  that result in better environment; and which can lead  to increase in sales.

Though, many marketing practices have been adopted to help a company cope in volatile markets like Nigeria, this study will seek to investigate the impact of public relations in the service industry as it related to MTN Nigeria Plc.

1.2       Statement of the problem

            It is often said that public relations is a link between an organization and its various publics and is one of the important tools to communicate with than in order to advance goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics. As a result of this inherent importance of public relations, it has received considerable attention from researchers like Lenk, Suar and Mohapatra (2009); Sharma and Rao (2010); Rehman and Ahmed (2008); Odu and Ihejiamiazu (2000); Nwude and Uduji (2013), Broom and Smith (1999); Grunig and Grunig (2000) and a host other. However, it has been observed in the existing literature that most of the scholarly work on the impact of public relations in the service industry were conducted in developed countries of the world, especially in the European and Asian countries. Only a few have been made to cover developing countries in Africa. This had created a gap that needs to be filled by research on the subject matter.

            That gap, therefore, is what this research attempts to fill and to add to the available literature, by providing empirical data on the impact of public relations in Nigeria’s service industry as it relates to MTN Nigeria plc.

1.3         Objectives of the study

            This research has the broad objective of investigating the effect of public relations on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc, and the following specific objectives:

  1. To examine the effect of customer relations on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc.  
  2. To examine the effect of community relations on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc.
  3. To evaluate the effect of corporate social responsibility on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc.
  4. To examine the effect of employee relations on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc.

1.4        Research questions

The following research questions guided this research:

  1. What effect does customer relations have on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc?
  2. Does community relations have any effect on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc?
  3. What is the effect of corporate social responsibility on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc?
  4. What effect does employee relations have on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc?

1.5         Research hypothesis

            The following hypotheses stated in null forms are adopted for this study;

  1. Ho: Customer relations has no significant effect on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc.
  2. Ho: Community relations has no significant effect on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc.
  3. Ho: Corporate social responsibility has no significant effect on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc.
  4. Ho: Employee relations has no significant effect on customers’ preference for GSM services of MTN NIG Plc.

1.6       Significance of the study 

            This study would be of great importance to telecommunications companies in Nigeria as it would reveal the effect of public relations on the sector and the need to harness the enormous potential offered by public relations. To the academia, the study would serve as a source of knowledge, or reference material for students and a guide to future researchers. The government would also benefit from this study’s findings and recommendations as empirical strategies for applying public relations to the public sector of the country.

1.7        Scope of the study  

            The study will be centered on the effect of public relations on customers’ preference for GSM service in Calabar, out of which MTN NIG Plc in Calabar metropolis constitutes the case study. The study specifically centers on how four (4) strategies of public relations: customer relations, community relations, employee relations and corporate social responsibility affect customers; preference of MTN NG plc in Calabar.

1.8              Limitations of the study

            As true with all research, this study is not immune from limitations. Some of the constraints encountered over the course of conducting this research are: inadequate financial resource which limits the scope of the study to Calabar metropolis; inadequate time frame for this study and other academic activities; unwillingness of some respondents to respond to interview questions asked; and the difficulty posed in retrieving all distributed questionnaire copies.

1.9      History of MTN Nigeria Plc.

            MTN Nigeria is part of the MTN Group, Africa’s leading cellular telecommunications company. On May 16, 2001, MTN became the first GSM network to make a call following the globally landed Nigeria GSM auction conducted by the Nigerian communications commission earlier in the year. Thereafter, the company launched full commercial operation beginning with Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

MTN paid $285 for one of four GSM licenses Nigeria in January, 2001. To date, in excess of US$1.8 billion has been invested building mobile telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria. Since launch in August, 2001, MTN has steadily deployed its series across Nigeria. It now provides services in 223 cities and towns, more than 10,00 villages and communities and a growing number of high ways across the country, spanning the 36 states of Nigeria and the federal capital territory, Abuja. Many of these villages and communities are being connected to the world of telecommunications for the first time ever. The company’s digital microwave transmission backbone, the 3,400 kilometer Y’elloBahn was commissioned by president Olusegun Obansajo in January 2003, and is reputed to be the most expensive digital microwave transmission infrastructure in all of Africa. The Y’elloBahn has significantly helped to enhance call quality on MTN network. The company subsists on the core brand values of leadership, relationship, integrity, innovation and can do. It prides itself in the ability to make the impossible possible, connecting people with friends, family and opportunities.

            MTN Nigeria also recently expanded its network capacity to include a new numbering range with the prefix ‘0806’ making MTN the first GSM network in Nigeria to have adopted an additional numbering system, having exhausted its initial subscriber range – 0803. In its resolve to enhance quality customer services MTN Nigeria has also introduced a self-help toll-free 180 customers-care line through which subscribers can resolve their frequently asked questions free of charge. MTN overriding mission is to be a catalyst for Nigeria’s economic growth and development, helping to unleash Nigeria’s strong developmental potential not only through the provision of world class communications, but also through innovative and sustainable corporate social responsibility initiative (MTN Online, 2013).

 

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