ABSTRACT: The study examined the impact of public relations in tertiary institutions using Osun State University as a case study. Communication is the basis of human interaction and development since no human being can survive in isolation from others. However, effective communication fosters unity, understanding and general development in the organization. System Theory and Communication Processing Theory was also adopted. A survey research method as a quantitative design was used coupled with questionnaires were adopted to elicit data from the respondents within Osun State University who were mainly students, teaching and non-teaching staffs that were drawn using a simple random sampling technique. The data collected were analysed and interpreted using a table coupled with a simple frequency and percentage method of statistics. It is recommended that Osun State University through the public relations unit is expected to have a page or group or room on social media like Facebook and Twitter which shall be solely managed by the Public relations department or Unit of the institution or any other authorized body or person. Such group could be titled “Welcome to Osun State University”, “UniOsun Connect”, e.t.c while the approval of members shall base on proper verification. Also, suggestion boxes are expected to be placed in some strategic locations within the campus and Public relations and students affairs should regularly check them.
1.1 Background to the Study
The concept of “Publics” has become synonymous with public relations. This is simply based on the fact that without publics there cannot be “public relations”. No publics, nothing to relate with. Thus, the whole idea of public relations begins with publics and ends with publics because public relations stands on the point that organisations, whatever or whichever type, must maintain and sustain mutual understanding and relationships with their various publics. No wonder it is rare to see any definition of public relations without the concept PUBLIC not mentioned. For instance, the most popular acceptable definition of public relations offers by the British Institute of Public Relations states that “Public relations is a deliberate, planned and sustained efforts to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics” cited in (Ogbiten, 2014).
Therefore, no single orgaanization can boast of it success or survival for another year; if it fails to manage the human, material and other resources carefully and judiciously. Also, there is no amount of fund used in establishing a firm and without adequate management, it will run out crash in due time. The foremost resource to manage and ensure they are in good condition and shape is human resources because they make other resources (material, financial and other resources) works.
This human resource is invaluable asset to every organisation willing to success. It can be internal and external public or internal and external community. An organisation like Uniosun has several publics it deals with such publics includes but not limited to the staff (full time and causal), management team, government agencies (JAMB, NECO, NABTEB, WAEC etc). others are host community, okada rider association, motor association, food vendors in and off campus, computer and photocopy centres, students union bodies, staff unions and other associations and groups that UNIOSUN deal with regularly or at one time or the other.
It is internal when it involves people employed by a firm or members of an organization and they are intimately related with the functioning of the organisation such as the full time staff, casual staff, management staff and company executive. While the external public or external community are those public that is not from within the organisation but from external whose activities may have impact on the activities of the organisation such as government and its agencies, customers and contractors etc (Ogbiten, 2014). To achieve effective and dynamic work flow in an organisation, the management team or business owner must decide which of the type of public relations should be adopted i.e in-house style or external style otherwise known as consultancy firm because both comes with lots of advantages and disadvantages.
Communication is an essential tool in human society but people hardly recognize its merit in our day to day activities. For a successful implementation of public relations programmes one needs to interact with one another. In the management of any business, public relations is a means by which ideas, thoughts and views are passed from management to staff and vice-versa.
According to Chapel and Read (2004) communication has become more necessary in an organization just as production and distribution have become necessary and if communication is effective it saves time and increases output in a business organization. This which can be effectively achieved through public relations persons or department.
Going by the definition of British Institute of Public Relations (BIPR), it implies that one of the core objectives of public relations is to ensure mutual understanding between an organisation and its various public. Public relations is an essential function of management because no organisation can survive without good rapport with public. Organisations, institutions, individuals and corporate entity do have two or more public they deal with and as a result, they must strike a balance so as not to lose their reputation and trust rather they build, maintain and sustain good image.
Therefore, public relations is an all-embracing concept that pervades the entire management process of today’s commercial and non-commercial organizations or institutions. It is largely a social philosophical and practical concept based on the premise that people matter and that for environment of the modern society it must be seen as adequately addressing itself to the peculiar needs and interests of all with whom it deals. And one of the common ways to ensure peace in an institution is to engage the service of public relations to prevent crisis, manage crisis, promote good image, build good relations between and among the publics through community relations and internal public relations.
Public relations should know how to communicate effectively to the public and know how to present the information because poor handling of information or wrong channels of disseminating information can bring more problems while it also expected of the PRs to counsel managements on various policies and programmes that may not go down well with the internal publics. It is against this background that this study examines the impact of public relations on public institutions with a particular focus on Osun State University.
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, symposium e. t. c because of the erroneous and selfish belief that public relations efforts bring little benefits to the organization.
One of the challenges facing public relations in an organization is lack of communication auditing which is missing seriously in most organisations. Just as financial/account auditing is important in an organization, communication auditing is equally important.
Many managers and top management team especially in government firms strongly feel that whatever they are doing is the final since they are in the highest rank office and not carrying junior staffs under them along in decision making. While many organizations neither create room nor interested in knowing the feelings of both their internal and external publics. It is against this background that this research tries to find out the impact of public relations in public institutions efficiency. Other things to note are the nature and type of public relations programmes in Osun State University community. What is the level of effectiveness and efficiency of public relations in an organization. It is against this background that this study the impact of public relations on public institutions with a particular focus on Osun State University.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To examine type of communication system/Channels employed by the PRs of Osun State University.
- To ascertain the extent at which Osun State University public relations create room for internal and external public to express their feeling.
- To determine some of the challenges facing Osun State University public relations in achieving effective communication.
- To examine how Public relations of Osun State University generates feedback from information disseminated to its publics?
- To ascertain whether Osun State University used Public relations to achieve smooth academic calendar?
1.4 Research Questions
- What type of communication system/Channels is employed by the public relations of Osun State University?
- To what extent does PRs in Osun State University create room for internal and external public to express their feeling?
- What are the challenges facing PRs in Osun State University in achieving effective communication?
- How does PRs in Osun State University generate feedback from information disseminated to its publics?
- To what extent has Osun State University used Public Relations to achieve smooth academic calendar?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Study of this nature will be beneficial to large number of individuals, companies and future researchers. This work when completed will help higher institutions, organizations and industries to know the importance of public relations in all their daily activities, how to communicate effectively and the need to get feedback from all their communication.
Future researchers will find this report useful to guide them and serve as a starting point while writing project, paper, research and other work relating to this.
The research will form part of academic work that will contribute to the existing knowledge in the field of mass communication public relations, business administration etc.
Public relations, mass communication and other related students without double will gain from this piece by knowing what is expected of them as a communicator and public relations officer, media assistance, e.t.c in an organization, how to achieve effective communication and ways to curb crisis in an organization using various communication strategies and media.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The research examines the impact of public relations on public institutions has been narrowed in scope through the case study of Osun State University community. Since it will be very difficult if not impossible to study all higher institutions in Nigeria due to the time available to carry out this research, fund, materials, geographical structure of Nigeria and other considerable factors.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Public Relations: This refers to the department/ unity or persons that are saddled with deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.
Publics: In this research, publics means all the groups or organizations, entity that Osun State University deal with one way or the other.
Public Institution: It means colleges such as: polytechnics, universities, colleges of education and host of other post-secondary schools like Osun State University.
Osun State University: This refers to Osun State University, Osogbo.