1.1 Background to the Study
The common aim of every business organization is to achieve growth, increase in turn over, assets and profit while that of non-profit have similar intention except for the sales of turnover. However, all of these depend on the public perception and goodwill of the organization otherwise known as image.
A popular adage will say, “a good name is better than silver and diamond” i.e if one or an organization has good reputation and integrity such could be entrusted for many good things which could in turn make one better or leave successfully. To business firm, good name is a soft selling no wonder some people pay heavily to buy franchise in another company because of the existing reputation. However, for this purpose of this study, brand image will be used interchangeably with corporate image as the two connote the same.
Brand image, corporate image, or reputation, therefore, can be described as the manner in which a company, its activities, and its products or services are perceived by outsiders. In a competitive business climate, many businesses actively work to create and communicate a positive image to their customers, shareholders, the financial community, and the general public. A company that mismanages or ignores its image is likely to encounter a variety of problems. Reputation problems grow like weeds in a garden (Davis, 2014).
In the view of Dominique (2002) the concept of corporate image as the company’s attention to the way in which it is perceived in the market. The market as mentioned contains the company itself. Of course, the companies are chiefly interested in what image their most important audience have of them. No matter how much or how well the company seeks to influence this, its image on the market usually never corresponds with the ideal as the managers wants it to be and as the employees perceive it.
In today’s competitive business environment, banks face the challenge of distinguishing themselves and creating a positive brand image to gain the trust and loyalty of customers. Public relations (PR) units play a crucial role in shaping and promoting the brand image of banks. This core essence of this study is to examine the significance of PR units as instrumental tools for enhancing brand image in the banking sector.
Thus, public relations in the banking industry involve strategic communication efforts aimed at building and maintaining positive relationships with various stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, and the general public. PR activities encompass media relations, crisis management, corporate social responsibility, internal communication, and community engagement (Crotts, Mason and Davis, 2018).
Hence, PRs units play a critical role in managing and mitigating crises that can potentially damage a bank’s brand image. By implementing proactive crisis communication strategies, banks can preserve their reputation and maintain customer trust (Kiousis, Mitrook, and Wu, 2020).
Equally, PRs units help banks develop and communicate their CSR initiatives, which contribute to enhancing brand image and differentiation. CSR activities, such as philanthropy, environmental sustainability, and ethical practices, foster a positive perception among stakeholders (Maignan and Ferrell, 2004).
According to Berger and Milkovich (2016) effective internal communication practices within banks, facilitated by PR units, create a cohesive organizational culture and improve employee engagement. Engaged employees act as brand ambassadors, positively impacting customer experiences and brand perception are some of the roles expected of a good public relations unit. In the meantime, PRs units help banks establish and maintain relationships with the local community through sponsorships, partnerships, and events. By engaging with communities, banks enhance their brand image as responsible corporate citizens (Putnam, 2000).
In short, in the dynamic banking landscape, where trust and reputation are crucial for success, the role of PR units in shaping and promoting brand image cannot be overstated. By focusing on enhancing trust, managing reputation, implementing CSR initiatives, fostering internal communication, and engaging with the community, PR units serve as instrumental tools for banks to establish a positive brand image and build long-term relationships with stakeholders. Emphasizing the importance of the PR function within banks is essential to ensure sustainable growth and success in an increasingly competitive industry. It is against this background that the research examines the place of PR unit as an instrument for promoting brand image in banks with a specific focus on First bank in Osogbo metropolis.
1.2 Problem Statement
Public relations in many companies attracted less attention and budget unlike advertisement campaign and advert department despite the huge role playing. The research further observe that management in company such as First Bank of Nigeria Plc neither recognise nor appreciate public relations efforts in building and projecting corporate image and good reputation because they don’t want to spend money on public relations activities like advertising campaign believing that it brings little impact of company. It is against this backdrop that the research is gear towards examining PRs unit as an instrument for promoting brand image in banks.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this research is to investigate the PRs unit as an instrument for promoting brand image in banks. The specific objectives include:
- To examine the primary role of public relations in First Bank of Nigeria Plc?
- To determine the extent to which First Bank in Osogbo has used public relations to build her corporate/brand image.
- To examine the current image of First Bank in Osogbo.
- To examine the challenges facing public relations department in First Bank in Osogbo in performing effectively.
1.4 Research Questions
The objectives are thus translated into the research questions in order to address the core research problem.
- To what extent has public relations unit/department contributed to the corporate reputation of First Bank Osogbo?
- To what extent has First Bank in Osogbo used public relations to build its corporate /brand image?
- What is the current image of First Bank in Osogbo?
- What is the major challenge facing public relations department of First Bank in Osogbo in performing effectively?
1.5 Scope of Study
The research which investigates the PRs unit as an instrument for promoting brand image in banks has been narrowed in scope to the First Bank in Gbogan road due to the proximity, inadequate time to study all Banks in Nigeria, inadequate funds to run around among other logistics. Thus, the geographical location of this study is Osogbo, Osun State. The demographic factors of the respondents were studied before the structuring and administration of the research instrument (questionnaire). Such factors include but not limited to age, gender, marital status, education e.t.c
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study on the PR unit as an instrument for promoting brand image in banks holds significant importance due to the following reasons:
Enhancing Brand Reputation: Banks rely heavily on their brand reputation to attract and retain customers. A strong brand image builds trust, credibility, and loyalty among customers, investors, and other stakeholders. By understanding and optimizing the role of the PR unit in shaping brand image, banks can effectively differentiate themselves in a highly competitive industry, thereby improving their market position.
Mitigating Reputation Risks: Banks are exposed to various reputation risks, including negative publicity, customer complaints, and financial scandals. The study on PR’s role in promoting brand image helps identify strategies and best practices for mitigating these risks. It enables banks to proactively manage their reputation, respond to crises effectively, and safeguard their brand against potential threats.
Building Stakeholder Relationships: A successful PR unit can establish and maintain positive relationships with key stakeholders, including customers, employees, regulators, and the media. By studying the PR unit’s impact on brand image, banks can develop targeted communication strategies to engage stakeholders, address their concerns, and foster long-term relationships. This leads to increased customer satisfaction, employee morale, regulatory compliance, and favorable media coverage.
Differentiating from Competitors: In a crowded banking landscape, differentiation is crucial for banks to stand out. The study on the PR unit’s role in promoting brand image helps banks identify unique selling points, key messaging, and brand positioning strategies. By effectively communicating their distinctive qualities, banks can differentiate themselves from competitors, attract new customers, and retain existing ones.
Maximizing PR Effectiveness: Understanding the challenges and limitations faced by the PR unit enables banks to address gaps and optimize their PR strategies. By investing in training, resources, and technology, banks can empower their PR professionals to execute impactful campaigns, leverage emerging communication channels, and adapt to changing market dynamics. This maximizes the overall effectiveness of the PR unit in promoting the bank’s brand image.
Business Sustainability: A strong brand image is closely linked to business sustainability and long-term success. Banks with a positive brand reputation are more likely to attract investments, maintain a loyal customer base, and navigate economic fluctuations more effectively. By studying the PR unit’s role in brand promotion, banks can ensure the sustainability of their business operations and strengthen their financial performance.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
It is not an overstatement that a work of this nature cannot be carried out without some hard experiences, however, below are some of the constraints to this work.
There are many limitations ranging from not knowing where to start, not knowing who to consult or approach for materials not knowing what next to write in various segment of this study and not actually knowing who to put me through in achieving my work and others are:
- Stress from other academic activities is one of the limitations to the research work
- Financial constraint to travel to different places.
- Duration for the research work is relatively short
- Material that is available on this topic is relatively small as the concept is new or people are not written from that angle.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Public Relations: This is the department or unit of First Bank that is saddled with the responsibility of maintaining mutual understanding between management, staff and publics and enhancing good corporate image.
Brand Image: in this study, brand image or corporate image refers to the overall reputation of an organization/product/service as determined by the various pictures, impression, knowledge, information and perceptions that the publics of that organizations have about it.
Public Relations Programmes: It refers to some of the PR activities that helps build good image, reputation and enhance mutual understanding between and among First Bank’s publics such as effective communication.
PR UNIT AS AN INSTRUMENT FOR PROMOTING BRAND IMAGE IN BANKS
Format = MS Word, Price = ₦4000, Chapter = 1-5, Pages = 52, References = Yes, Questionnaire =Yes, Table of Contents = Yes and Abstract = Yes