ABSTRACT: The study examined the role of public relations in enhancing peace in higher institutions particularly in Osun State University, Osogbo. Public relations has remained a powerful tool in building and maintaining mutual understanding in every organization including creating and maintaining a good rapport between and among its various public. It also helps in building a good image and satisfying the needed information by the public. Grunig and Hunt Model was used to give depth to this study. A quantitative research design was used in which a cross-sectional survey method was adopted while the data collection instrument was a questionnaire. The data were analysed using frequency and percentage. From the result of the findings of this study, it is safe to conclude that the role of public relations in building and maintain mutual understanding between and among the workers and management cannot be overemphasized since the success of every organization rest on teamwork which can only be achieved where there is good rapport among the concerned people. It was recommended that organization that has not been making use of public relation should better do to help in achieving set goals. The public should follow normal protocol and bureaucratic procedures in dealing with both the management and students of Osun State University, Osogbo.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Peace is the hallmark of every developed society and without peace, there won’t be any development or growth in that sector and that is why every organization give priority to peacebuilding so as to move forward. And one of the common ways to ensure peace in an institution is to engage the service of public relations to build good relations between and among the public, particularly higher institutions.
Whether an organization is a profit-making or non, whether it is owned by the government or a group of individuals, it needs the services of public relations for such organization to dwell and eventually succeed in achieving it set goals. No wonder individual personalities are now engaging the service of public relations to help build, maintain and polish their image and reputation in the public sphere. Some of the individuals and politicians, business tycoon Footballers, Wrestlers, Boxers, Musicians, Actors and Actress e.t.c
Public relations unlike advertisement and other Marking Mix, Place all it efforts in building good image, name and public confidence in the mind of the various publics dealing with the organization public relations did not only see to good image for the products and services of the organization it serve but also ensure good image of the workers and management of the organization
For the above reasons, to define public relations become subject of individual perception of what public relations is and what it does, however many scholars have contributed to the success of defining what public relations is some scholars believed and wrote on it as an act (deed) representing a group or organization.
Public relations is a deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public British Institute of Public Relations (BPR).
According to Roger Hayward as quoted by Adegoke (2000:1) public relations is the propagation of the personality of the organization. This states the importance of communication between the organization and its public Roger Hayward’s definition has something to do with the (IBPR) definition because both state the duty of public relations officers in promoting projecting and representing the organization and at some time relating with the public of the organization both the internal and external public.
Public relations also projects the management personality of which the public relations department represents, through their activities with the use of their perspective tools (i.e print, electronic media and new media/social media ).
The aim is to create a favourable atmosphere between an organization and its publics. Sam Black (1962:62) asserts that public relations involve anything that is focused, on improving and enhancing the flow of communication between an institution and its publics.
The main words that can be drawn out from Sam Black definition in the crucial role played by any public relations department through the means of using mass media
However, in this research work, an impartial assessment was done on the role of public relations in the higher institutions as the main crucial and prominent tool in the day running of academic affairs especially in building a peaceful environment for learning.
Efforts shall be extended to all media mostly employed by the public relations department which could fall under print and electronic media to carry out their activities such as Billboards, Calendar, Notebooks, Release, Bulleting Board, Opining Box or Suggestion Box, Magazine, Pamphlets, Radio, Television even the Recent Internet e.t.c.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) 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, counselling organisations’ leaders and implementing planned programmes of action which serve both the organisation’s public interest.”
It is obvious that the work of Public relations is needed in almost every society, organisation, both the profit and non-profit organisation, to include the higher institutions of learning (universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and other colleges). In fact, individuals in society also need the service of public relations, especially those individuals that are professional or experts such as musicians, athletes and politicians e.t.c .
Therefore, public relations assist the institution in so many ways and some of the ways is by writing and distributing press realizes, school newspapers, journals and many more.
PR promotes and projects the image and dignity of the institution to the world. Public relations principles successfully add the following skills:
- Ability to effective writing, fluent speaking and effective reading.
- Ability to think clearly and put issues in perspective.
- Ability to act and work as part of the management team at all levels.
- Ability to write speeches for the top institution management such as chief executives
- Ability to provide needed information to the institution and those outsiders.
- Creativity ability to design any artwork for the institution’s logo, Letterheads e.t.c
- Ability to plan events such as convocation, seminar, conference, exhibition, and many.
- Ability to write and protect the institution during crisis or catastrophes such as if cult groups are striking and in the process a body or more death, examination malpractices e.t.c
Because PRs is a backbone for every organisation that is ready and willing to survive. To this end, the research seeks to examine the impact of public relations in enhancing harmony in higher institutions using Osun State University, Osogbo.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
This research has observed that in so many organizations, management neither recognizes nor appreciate public relations efforts in Nigeria. The management does not realize the potential of public relations activities in building and enhancing a good image for the success of the organization. It has been observed that the management’s attitude is lukewarm and non-challant toward public relations department and their activities.
Besides, they don’t want to spend money on its activities such as organizing seminars, workshops, symposiums e. t. c because of the erroneous and selfish belief that public relations efforts bring little benefits to the organization. Therefore, this study will look at the role of public relations in higher institutions of learning using Osun State University, Osogbo.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To examine whether is public relations recognized as a management function of the UNIOSUN.
- To know if public relations assist in preventing crisis in Osun State University, Osogbo.
- To examine whether public relations help in building and maintaining a mutual understanding between the management and the students of Osun State University, Osogbo.
- To know some of the problems facing public relations in higher institutions.
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent is Public Relations recognized as a management function of the UNIOSUN.
- To what extent can public relations assist in preventing crisis in Osun State University, Osogbo?
- To what extent can PR help in building and maintaining a mutual understanding between the management and the students of Osun State University, Osogbo?
- What are the problems facing public relations?
1.5 Scope of the Study
With the selection of Osun State University, Osogbo as a case study, this project work has been limited because visiting all higher institutions of learning in Nigeria cannot be possible. However, the demography of the staff, students and management of Osun State University, Osogbo such as age, sex, working experience, academic qualification will be considered before the distribution of questionnaires.
1.6 Significance of the Study
A study like this will benefit a lot of people. Few among the beneficiaries include but are not limited to undergraduates. And graduates of mass communication and public relations.
It will as well benefit the public relations practitioners on what is expected of them in higher institutions. It will serve as an eyes opener to the management of the higher institutions of learning on the need to have a functioning public relations department or unit on their campus
In addition, this research work tries to provide satisfactory answers to some questions that are disturbing the mind of policy formulators, students and researchers.
Researchers will know how public relations promote mutual understanding between the organization and publics; Students in various institutions will benefit from this project work by knowing the roles of public relations in society.
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.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
Role: This is synonymous with functions, impact or contributions.
Higher Institutions: It means all colleges such as polytechnics, universities, colleges of education and a host of other post-secondary schools.
Public Relations: Public relations is a deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics. British Institute of Public Relations (IBPR).
Publics: In this research, publics means all the groups or organizations, entities that are one way or the other associated with an organization.