PUBLIC RELATIONS AS A MANAGERIAL TOOL IN BUSINESS ORGANIZATION (A CASE STUDY OF FIRST BANK OF NIGERIA PLC. ENUGU).
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Business organizations do not exist in a vacuum. Whether dealing on good or specialized in rendering service. Organizations (both private and public) exist at the expense of people in two factors have added impetus to the concept of people in today’s organizations. They include firstly, the upsurge in the number and complexity of organizations and secondly are the ever increasing sophistication in the demand of consumers.
Today, the need for improvement in the use of “public Relations” as a means of achieving greater organizational results is increasingly being realized. Today, organization that really wants to have the leading edge must be plugged or placed into trotline relationship with the customers and other publics. Today it is being realized, more than ever before, that any organization, which chooses to work at cross – purposes (misunderstanding) with its various publics especially the customers will not survive for a long time. the notion of secrecy that characterized the activities of most business organizations is now far past.
Ikechukwu Nwosu, (1990) rightly put it “Public Relations is of great importance in human indispensability in creating goodwill, understanding the support needed between an institution (business organization) and its public”. This seen in his definition of Public Relation, when he said that Public Relations practice is a deliberately planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between and organization and its public.
The prevailing notion that the customer is “all powerful and therefore needs to be consulted in the various stages of production of foods and service so that the product comes out exactly the way he wants it has made public relation more and more relevant in today’s business organization. So business organizations in general must not isolate themselves from the public, but should maintain a cordial continuing relationship with them.
Banks have gone a long way in the country or society as a whole. They are recognized as business organizations selling services to the public. The public’s readiness to buys the services depends largely on how much they know about the services and the confidence does not come however through “quietness” but through their effort in publicizing their activities on confidence overtime. Looking at the failed banks situation in the country, where most customers of such banks lost their money to the illegal activities of such banks. So there is the need for publicizing bank activities for proper knowledge or information to the customers and public. By the time all the necessary information are made known to the public, dubious banks would be well differentiated by the public.
Banks cannot afford and should not afford to loose their customers, particularly on a continuous basis. They have to strive to win customers but should not stop at that. They should also retain the customers, and this has to do with public relations.
As a management function, public relations encompass the following:-
(i) Anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitude and issues which might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans for the organization.
(ii) Counseling management at all levels in the organization with regard to policy decision, courses of action and communication, taking into account their public ramifications and the organization’s social or citizenship responsibilities.
(iii) Researching, conducting and evaluating on a continuous basis, programme of action and communication to achieve informed public understanding necessary to the success of an organization’s aims. This may include marketing, financial, fund raising, employee, community of government relations and other programmes.
(iv) Planning and implementing the organization’s effort to influence or change public policy.
(v) Setting objectives, planning, budgeting, recruiting and training staff, developing facilities; in short managing the resources needed to perform all the above (Salu 1994).
Banks exist, therefore to serve the financial needs and wants of people as individuals, businesses, institutions, government, etc.
Conversely, a public relation is primarily concerned with creating goodwill, promoting and selling bank services, that, marketing in order to enhance bank’s profitability.
However, of recent, many factors have contributed to the decline of bank’s profitability in the Nigeria banks such factors include inflation, central banks regulatory guidelines, poor management of institution, fraud and malpractices, bad asset composition, political instability among others. Such factors have sent hoe some banks to their distress levels today. Public relation through its specialized communication skills owes it a duty to package effective communication message necessary to put the management and staff of the banks including their external public in apposition to see the bank a positive perspective or point of view, making the to shun such vices like fraud, malpractice, etc. that run counter to the wealthy development of the sector. The public relations department owes its as duty to carry out trend analysis or environment scanning by engaging on a periodic assessment and monitoring of banking environment.
The department in doing this uses the formular known as SWOT analytical approach i.e. you assess the banking system’s Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats and provide adequate information to the management (Nwosu, 1996).
It is indeed painful to note that after many years of the integration of the department in the banking system, banks have not changed much for the better. Worthy to mention in this discourse is also the fact that some banks give a lean attention to the department while other, out of deliberate misinterpretation and misconception or through ignorance thought of the department to be negligible or have not effect at all.
It was against this backdrop or finding lasting solution to this sector that rekindled the interest of the research in assessing the use of public relations as managerial tool in business organization (First Bank of Nigeria, Enugu branch).
HISTORY OF FIRST BANK OF Nigeria
Banking as an industry cannot operate in non-monetized economy. The growth of the banking in Nigeria started as a British Colony with the introduction of the British co mage and currency system in the late 19th century.
The establishment of First Bank of Nigeria plc., predates the birth of the Nigerian nation as a sovereign nation. Bank of British West Africa (BBWS) as a matter of fact was the firs bank to be established in Nigeria. The name “First Bank”, which was eventually adopted in 1979 is appropriate, having been conferred on the bank by history. The truth, however, was the bank was the first successful bank to operate in Nigeria. Being truly the first bank to be successfully set up and managed on the Nigeria soil, it also has endured a steady but tough banking twain.
Banking system in the county started through the efforts of Alfred Lewis Jones and George William Neville. They are also seen as the founding fathers of BBWA, now First Bank. The banking system came or started in their (i.e. the founding fathers) quest to protect the interest of their company a sole shipping agent of shilling of West Africa from London. Since the existence and establishment of the bank (BBWA) in 1894 and its adoption of the bank in 1979, the bank has continued to exist with the rigors within and around the country, and has been able to set up other branches.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
A Public Relations department of business organization is charged with the duty of maintaining mutual understanding between the organization and its various publics. Its publics are generally divided into “internal” and “external” publics. The internal publics consist of consumers, government dealers, suppliers, member of the community and the mass media etc. public relations serves as the link between all this publics. The attitude of the staff towards work will depend on the type of relationship existing between them (the staff and the management). Also that of the external publics of the organization will depend on the amount and quality of information available to them about the organization.
Organizations are often accused by customers and employees of being nonchalant of their demands, these organizations are accused of outright hostility often bordering on belligerence. These organizations are so short-circuited to foresee that there are bound to be reactions when standards of expectations are not met.
Public relations is hardly recognized as the necessary step in building bridges of good will and mutual understanding between the organization and its various public where it is given any recognition. It is almost seen as an appendage (i.e. make up) to the chief executive and practitioners, seen as errand boys, with really inculcating them in the management boardrooms and decision so that they can contribute meaningfully in the stakes of the organization – First Bank, though leading in the country, has its own problems in relating with its own customers. Customers still complain of poor services, delay in banking services.
This study will look at how problems are made to the bank and how effective the public relations play their own part by relating it to the management i.e. if they are given the opportunity at all to relate with the management board.
1.3 OBJECTIVES (AIMS) OF THE STUDY
The objective of the study is to examine the impact of public relations as a managerial or management tool in First Bank f Nigeria plc. Again to determine whether or not some of these problems are caused by the bank’s management itself.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of the study should lie in its goal; namely, to access the public relations practice in ensuring survival. Specifically, the study was undertaken to find out the SWOT analysis of the Public Relations practice in organizations especially banks. The significance of this study will therefore be of immense value to business organizations. This is because the study, apart from objectively assessing the Public Relations practice in First Bank of Nigeria, it would also highlight the proper solutions on how best to tackle these survival problems. This would help the management of various banks who might be desirous to pinpoint the problems of survival that inhibit their bank’s growth. This will help the bank management to assess the level of their application of Public Relations practice. This study will also elicit vital information that will aim management in their policy decision as well as change the status quo of some banks presently engulfed by the social malady besieging the sector. This study will also serve as a yardstick to those flourishing banks to assess or determine whether they are towing the line of progress or otherwise.
Finally, this study will be able to point out the necessity of Public Relations at the management level of any organization. Banks or any form of organization works directly with various publics in the society. Consequently, this requires that First Bank must be in constant touch with their various publics so that their actions and publics are explained to them promptly. For this to be done effectively, Public Relations has a lot to play I the dissemination of information to the public. Not only do they define actions and policies but also relay the minds of this publics to the management directly or indirectly.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
(1) To what extent is Public Relations regarded as a managerial or management tool in First Bank?
(2) To what extent can Public Relations contribute to the achievement of First Bank’s objectives?
(3) Does First Bank seeks customers’ input in the formulation of policies and strategies of operations?
(4) What is the image of First Bank plc. Among the customers?
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H1: Public Relations is fully regarded as a managerial or management tool in First Bank of Nigeria.
H0: Public Relations is not fully regarded as a managerial or management tool in First Bank of Nigeria.
H2: Public Relations contributes to the achievement of First bank’s objectives.
H0: Public Relations does not contribute to the achievement of First Bank’s objectives.
H3: First Bank seeks customers’ inputs in the formulation of policies and strategies for its operations.
H0: First Bank does not seek customers’ input in the formulation of policies and strategies for its operations.
H4: Customers have very high regard for First Bank.
H0: Customers do not have high regard for First Bank.
1.7 CONCEPTUAL AND OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS OF VARIABLES
1. (a) Effective Public Relations: Conceptually, this means the effective use of the Public Relations messages and tenets to reduce social issues like corruption, embezzlement, fraud, etc, especially in the bank.
(b) Operationally, effective Public Relations means those special message communicated to their publics meant to give them a moral sense of direction in relation to their work, code of conduct, etc.
2. (a) Bank Management: Conceptually means those who direct, control and co-ordinate the activities of other junior workers in a bank to achieve set goals eg. The Director, Manager, Public Relations Officer etc.
(b) Operationally bank management means those who have their positions to influence the normal bank services like granting loans or getting some preferential services based on sentiments.
3. (a) Constraint: Conceptually, constraint means the threat or use of force to direct the action of others; something that limits one’s freedom of action (Longman Dictionary of contemporary English, 1981) pg. 234.
(b) Operationally, constraint means preferential and corrupt practices in bank based on sentiment by bank management.
4. (a) Adequate Funds: Conceptually means the amount of money that is just enough for the purpose it is slated out for.
(b) Operationally, adequate funds means the amount of money that can be enough to carry out the Public Relations campaign for a given bank usually for a stated period.
5. (a) Smooth running: Conceptually smooth running means the administration of an organization or department in such a manner that it is devoid of crisis so that such organization of department can effectively contribute in achieving their set goals.
(b) Operationally, smooth running means designed or well packaged communication message by Public Relations department of a bank aimed at gearing the internal and external publics of the bank towards achieving its set goals and objectives.
For the purpose of clarity in this research, it is necessary to define and explain certain key words in the study.
P.R. – PUBLIC RELATIONS, due to the length of the word, a more simplified form or letters “P.R.” would be used in most cases in the course of this research.
First Bank of Nigeria Plc will also be shortened to be FBN. Public Relations – According to (British) Institute of Public Relations (IPR) “Public Relations practice is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its Public. From the above definition, one can see that “P.R. is a planned and sustained effort” that is P.R.’s activities are organized as programmes and is a continuous activity. It is not scattered. Another is that its purpose is to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding that is to make sure that the organization is well understood and the publics are also understood by the organization.
Managerial: According to Pass C et al, managerial is an adjective from managers or management. Meanwhile, management is the process of organizing and directing human and physical resources within an organization so as to meet defined objectives.
Tool: According to Pass C et al, tool is anything that helps to do one’s job, putting them together. Managerial tool is therefore a tool for management.
Organization: According to Collins Dictionary of Business, it is a social grouping designed to achieve certain goals.
1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The topic states, “P.R. as a managerial tool in business organization” but not all the business organizations could be reached. So it was limited to a particular firm, which is First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Enugu Branch, which stands to represent the various organizations in existence.
The researchers of the project would have loved to randomly assess the Public Relations practice in many business organizations for more comprehensive analysis but for economy of time, energy and material, this study could only be done in Enugu.
This study is expected to have high validity, since similar studies could be carried out in other metropolis within the country with identical result provided that different factors influencing value system of such an area was taken into account and adequately adjusted.
The study, therefore dies not claim in any way to be hundred percent reliable. The researchers subscribe to Goldsmith’s submission that some books may be interesting though with many faults and others dull without any absurdity. It is to be hoped then, that readers of this work may find it interesting even though they may find it faulty in a few respects.