THE ROLE COMMUNITY RELATIONS HAS PLAYED ON THE CORPORATE IMAGE OF SHELL PETROLEUM PLC PORTHARCOURT
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Companies has recently gave priority to their interactions with the people constituting the environment they operates in and draws resources from, to foster mutual understanding, trust, and support between the company and the host communities (Meyers, 2005). This study is examining the role that these activities involved in community relations on the corporate image of Shell petroleum Plc, Port Harcourt. Corporate image” was once an advertising jargon but is today a common phrase referring to a company’s reputation. The “image” is what the public is supposed to see when the corporation is mentioned. The ordinary man and woman on the street usually have a wry view of community relations, advertising, hype, hoopla, and therefore also of corporate image—and this often for good reasons (Brady, 2005). But a good corporate image is a genuine asset; it translates into dollars at the counter and higher stock valuation.
The concept is usually associated with large corporations, but small businesses also have a corporate image even if neither their owners nor customers think of it that way. In the absence of active efforts, corporate image “simply happens”: it is how a company is perceived (Johnson, 2002). Management, however, may actively attempt to shape the image by communications, brand selection and promotion, use of symbols, and by publicizing its actions. Corporations trying to shape their image are analogous to individuals who will dress appropriately, cultivate courteous manners, and choose their words carefully in order to come across competent, likeable, and reliable. In the personal as in the corporate case, the image should match reality (Hayward, 2005). When it does not, the consequence will be the opposite of the one intended. Community relations is no longer an afterthought or corporate window-dressing, community relations, as more chief executives are acknowledging, is now a serious, strategic aspect of business for Nigerian companies, a fundamental ingredient for the health of the enterprise. Competitive business and social pressures are forcing a redefinition of the relationship between company and community. When a company makes a commitment to the community part of its core business strategy, it not only helps attract and retain top employees, but it also positions itself positively among customers and, increasingly, improves its position in the market. Positive, proactive connections to the community can translate into a boost to the bottom line. Leading-edge companies are now seeing that to succeed in a global economy, the corporation has to be more than a preferred shareholder.