RELEVANCE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN HEALTH INSTITUTIONS

Abstract: The research investigated the relevance of public relations in health institutions with a focus on Ekiti State Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti. The study was anchored on Grunig and Hunt Four Models of Public Relations. A survey research method was used and questionnaire was used to elicit responses from respondents. The data were analyzed in frequency and percentage method. The study finds out that majority of respondents strongly agree that they receive information on Ekiti State Teaching very timely and usually through notice board. Also, majority of the respondents receive information through notice board. The study therefore, recommended that organization need to recognize the potentials of Public relations department/unit or any name call it by empowering such division with both human and resources that will enable it perform effectively while Public relations should ensure that the image of the organization is given priority because the image is the organization.


HEALTH INSTITUTIONS

CHAPTER ONE

 INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

Whether an organization is profit oriented, non-profit oriented, public or private there is need for understanding between the internal or external publics. Similarly for any serious organization to grow, survive and maintain its reputation at all time there is need to involve public relations practice in its strategy to achieve its goals. The PR department or unit deals with the management of both internal and external publics of Ekiti State Hospital. The PR department is responsible for the promotion and implementations of the hospital’s marketing and communication programmes that are related to overall missions and visions of the hospital. Also, it manages and improves the flow of information within the hospital and between the hospital and the community it serves.

            Public relations professionals have a role to play in helping management to keep in touch with their various publics because the role of PR within an organisation has become that of a spokesperson to the management, they actively solicit both employee and consumer opinion and make management aware of the effects various decisions will have on clients.   

            This is similar to the Two-way symmetric PR Model (by Grung and Hunt) which includes equality of communication using extensive dialogue and exchanges of views to change attitudes in order to reach the need of the other. The PR department should also serve as liaisons to the community and work closely with other health partners in the locality in preventive health.

            According to Roger Hayward as quoted by Adegoke (2001) public relations is the propagation of the personality of the organization. This state the importance of communication between the organization and its publics. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) cited in Arowosegbe (2004) defines public relations as:

A distinctive management function which helps to establish and main mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and operation between an organization and its public. The International Public Relations Association of Mexico in North America defines public relations as:

The art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organisations’ leaders and implementing planned programmes of action which serve both the organisation’s public interest. However, the non-profit organisations today are using public relations as a key strategy to reach their audience and to establish a sustainable. Public relations department is saddles with these functions in the hospital:

  1. Writing and distributing news release
  2. Writing feature on health matters and send to the newspapers, radio stations, television stations, blogs and social media 
  3. Witting of newsletters,
  4. Building and maintain media relations
  5. Organizing press conference,
  6. Featuring on interview on radio and television
  7. Public relations department is responsible for community relations.
  8. It over sees hospital publications such as calendar, fliers, brochure, etc.

            It is against this backdrop that the research examines the relevance of public relations in health institution, a case study of Ekiti State Hospital, Ado Ekiti with the view to know the extent at which public relations department has enhanced the performance of the State Hospital.  

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The research observed that in so many organizations, management neither recognizes nor appreciate public relations efforts in building and projecting corporate image and good reputation in Nigeria. It has also been observed that the management’s attitude is lukewarm and non-challant towards public relations department and its activities.

Besides, they don’t want to spend money on public relations activities such as organizing seminars, workshops, symposium e. t. c because of the erroneous and selfish belief that public relations efforts bring little benefits to the organization. While various publics of an Ekiti State Hospital remain one of the pillars and bedrocks of it success which a serious orgnisation must not only cares for but also ensures their mutual understanding.

Hence, the research is geared towards examining the relevance of public relations in health institution, a case study of Ekiti State Hospital, Ado Ekiti with the view to know the extent at which public relations department has enhanced the performance of the State Hospital.

Objectives of the Study  

  1. To examine the extent at which public relations department has bridged the communication gap between Ekiti State Hospital and its various publics.
  2. To ascertain technique(s) which Ekiti State Hospital has adopted in enhancing mutual understanding in its service delivery.

1.4      Research Questions

  1. To what extent has public relations department bridge the communication gap between    Ekiti State Hospital and its various publics?
  2. What technique(s) does Ekiti State Hospital adopt in enhancing mutual understanding in its service delivery?

1.5       Significance of the Study                       

Work like this will benefit a lot of people, few among the beneficiaries include but not limited to undergraduates and graduates of mass communication, marketing, advertisers and public relations. It will as well benefit the public relations practitioners on what is expected of them in a company. It will serve as eyes opener to the management of nongovernmental organisatons the need to have a functioning public relations department or unit in their organisation.

In addition, this research work tries to provide satisfactory answers to some questions that are disturbing the mind of policy formulators, students and researcher. Moreover, policy formulators will benefit from this research work because they will be able to identify the usefulness of public relations to them on policy formulations and corporate management.

1.6       Scope of the Study

The scope of the study covers the relevance of public relations in health institution with a view to study Ekiti State Hospital in Ado-Ekiti.  The demographic factor of the staff and workers of the hospital will be considered before the administration of the questionnaire such factor include but not limited to age, sex, academic qualification, gender, etc.

1.7       Operational Definition of Terms

Relevance: This is synonymous to functions, impact or contributions of public relations in health institutions.

Public Relations: Public relations is a deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.

Health Institution: It refers to the hospitals and other related health care centres particularly Ekiti State Hospital.

Publics: These are the people (management, staff, government, patients, e.tc) that are dealing with Ekiti State Hospital

References

Adegoke, I. A. (2001). Introduction to Public Relations: Principles, Media and Method. Ibadan:   Sulek-Temik Publishing Company

Arowosegbe, O. (2005). Public Relations: Planning, Copy and Media, Copy and Media.    Eruwa:             Gods Power Ventures    

Nikky, Tai. (2009). The Role of Public Relations Department. Retrieved from         http://nikkytai.blogspot.com/ on the 10/2/2015

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 HEALTH INSTITUTIONS

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