AN X-RAY OF SELECTED PUBLIC RELATION FIRMS IN UYO
THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING
Every individual or organizations interest is to maintain cordial existences with other individuals, bodies or public. This is the essences of public relations which could be defined as management function that helps to define organizational change (Jefkins 1982:41).
Public relation practitioners communicate with all relevant internal and external publics in the effort to create consistency between organizational goals and social expectations. Public relations are an important tools for management in the society. It is a distinctive components of management function mutual understanding and acceptance in any organization.
This involves the management of problems or issues, defining and emphasizing the responsibility of the management to serve the public interest, making use of research and communication techniques (Osuji 1990: 12) thus, publics relations is seen as contributing to the efficient administration of resources and effective realization of objectives through proper planning and control. It is pertinent to point out however that the contribution of public relations to management depend son what the management wants it to contribution because its functions, places and input are determined by the management.
Notably, although there are more than 800 public relations consultancies of various sizes in Nigeria, the situation can not be likened to that of the advertising world inevitably, the majority of these firms are small, but since they do not have the division of specialist labour to be found in advertising agencies even a one man public relations consultancy can be thoroughly efficient (Okereke 1996). Also, most corporate institutions have come to know that public relations is a necessity for their survival. For this reason, companies have much to do with public relations, engage in activities that require the services of consultants in public relation practice. Large companies or organizations may employee public relations consultancy for special service such as counselling, corporate and financial PRO public relations is more intimately concerned with the whole organization and it is a continuous process thereby justifying the employment of full-time PR staff. Moreover, many consultancy firms concentrate o n a special brand of public relations or in a particular industry or interest such as fashion or parliamentary liaison. Sometimes a consultant may be intimated by clients who demand result and they may promise certain outcomes of their consultancy.
This is an interesting situation; especially when a certain alluring seems to be attached to consultancy and people seeking PR careers tend to think in terms of consultancies only. Moreover, the advertising and marketing trade press tends to think mainly in terms of consultancies and to confuse PR with advertising by referring to public relations consultancies as PR agencies which they are not since they are commission earning agencies of the media as the name advertising agency really, means (Jefkins 1984) public relation consultancies are specialized and important independent individuals or organizations who are vested with the ability to diagnose and proffer solution to problems affecting a particular public. Public relations consultancy is a professional body which does not depend on the media or have nay fix rate for the services they render but basing the fee-charge on time.
A client may be in need of some relevant information in order to solve his problems. In such instances the consultant as an expert in the process of communication may provide the information and the client pays for the information provided.
They are information specialists, they interact with institutions, organizations and the publics and their information must be highly persuasive. Public relations consultancies offer numerous services. Establishing channels of communication with the clients public or publics, management communication, marketing and sales promotion related communication, marketing and sales promotion related activity, advice or services relating to political, governmental or public affairs, financial public relations, personnel and industrial relations, recruitment training and higher technical education. Through it is not every public relations consultant that claims competence in every area; some will confine their practice to certain industries or interest while others may offer consultative but not executive services.
However, those who do not offer a full range of services to client but specializes in certain areas must be competent to recommend to their client a full range of services form other members if required by the client to do so.
The study being an X-ray of select public relations consultancy firms examined the credibility of public relations consultancy firms in Uyo in view of the fact that most practitioner ventures into the practice without a far knowledge of what the practice entails.
In this sense, it becomes difficult for such practitioner to draw a distinction between public relations on one hand and propaganda, publicity and advertising on the other hand ignorance of this distinction in most cases appears to encourage such practitioners to embrace. The whole area depending on they more favoured with clients.
- Statement of Problem
In Nigeria the practice of public relations consultancy has been on the increase but since the practice has been thrown into public light, most companies do not give regard to its importance. In most cases, they tend to regard public relations jobs as marketing responsibilities, advertising or publicity and propaganda outlet. In this direction, it can be contested that these allied area use or stand to benefit form public relations responsibilities by they are not the same. However, for the fact that there is proliferation presupposes that there are some practice which are neither in line with known models of consultancy nor do they serve the interest of public relations practice properly. It is on the grounds of this observation that one is moved to question the credibility of consultants in relation to their profession. Moreover, there is need to examine the strategies/models or methods the public relations consultancy firms use to tackle the problems of their client. Besides this, one also wonders if those strategies are in line with the standard of consultancy practice or are created out of situations to address peculiar problems of clients in Nigeria. Do they actually play the role of advisers tot heir clients? And do they really serve their clients very well? If they do, how do such advisory roles tally with the known consultancy approaches and the ethical code? These concerns establish the basis for this research exercise.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The study which is an X-ray of select public relations consultancy fIrms in Uyo had the following objectives