Abstract: The study appraised the role of public relations in government organizations with a specific focus on Ministry of Information, Abuja. For Institution to grow, survive and have a favourable image, it must have good support from its publics, socially responsible. The research was anchored on the Grunig and Hunt Model. The survey research method was used while the data collection instrument used was the questionnaire. The study used sampling techniques and Taro Yamane formula to select the sample size. The data were analysed in frequency and percentage method. Findings show that larger percentage of the respondents work in Human Resource Management (HRM), majority of respondents (26.3%) noted that respondents neither agree nor disagree that Ministry of Information leaders are trustworthy and committed to public relations. It is obvious that the majority of respondents (38%) pointed out that the Ministry of Information considers public opinion and implement them in its functions. However, it can be inferred that the majority of respondents (34%) noted that Ministry maintained the image of the federation in terms of international misunderstanding. The majority of respondents (28%) established that the Ministry control the information released to the press for news publications and dissemination. It is noted that the majority of respondents (47%) revealed that the live broadcasts and newspaper dailies help relate important updates about the government agenda to the public. The study recommended that it is important for public relations officers to be a member of the management because public relations see in an advisory capacity to the management and can only advise people on what needs to know or take part in, so it is very important for a manager to be part of the decision making body (management) so as to give necessary advise on the impact of a decision taken or about to be taken since public relations element must always reflect in any management decision.
Public Relations in Government
1.1 Background to the Study
The general importance of public relations cannot be overemphasized especially as regards government established organizations. This is because; government institutions need public relations to improve and maintain a positive image. Although the basic concepts of public relations go back to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, the concept of public relations as we know it today is a 20th-century phenomenon that owes its existence, in large part, to the advent of the industrial revolution in Europe and the United States (Awe, 2017). During the First World War, a central publicity board was set up for disseminating war news to the public and press. After Second World War public relations activity gained importance both privates, as well as Government, started public relations campaigns.
The current global discussions regarding the fundamentals of public relations (PR) attempt to draw conclusions about the purpose of the PR profession in the 21st century (Geremew, 2017). In the 21st century, there is a growing realization that business, as practiced in the past, will not be sustainable in the future. Organizations will have to adapt to the fact that the stability they once knew is gone forever (Okpoko, 2016). A new business paradigm is being institutionalized at present to ensure social order in an increasingly differentiated society. This paradigm is characterized by corporate self-control and a more expansive corporate social responsibility. Since government regulation and market forces are no longer sufficient to ensure social order, legitimacy is becoming a precondition for corporate social acceptance (Hailu, 2018).
The development has implications for the role played by the public relations function in the modern organization. Public relations as an industry and a profession has rapidly advanced throughout the world during the past decade. In fact, the field has now matured to the point that it is now an integral part of the landscape in modern and industrialized nations around the globe. Public relations are now commonly used by all institutions of society – be it government, NGOs, corporations, professional and trade union groups, activist groups, and even individuals to effectively communicate information to the public (Alhadid & Qaddomi, 2016). In many cases, Public relations plays a very important role in conflict resolution between groups and even organizations. At the same time, it should not be overlooked that public relations also perform the valuable role of accomplishing organizational objectives, whether its maintaining the organization’s reputation or the selling of products and services.
According to Hailu (2018), in Africa, investing in Public relations will help the organization to achieve its objective effectively and smoothly. Shamsan and Otieno (2015) contend that public relations do not only encourage the involvement from the public but also results in better image. Effective Public relations can create and build up the image of an individual or an organization or a nation. At the time of adverse publicity or when the organization is under crisis, effective Public relations can remove the misunderstanding and can create mutual understanding between the organization and the public.
The era of public relation broadcasting in Nigeria emerged in the early 1930s when the British government chartered the Radio Distribution Services in England to relay specific British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programs to Nigerians (Nwachukwu, 2018). The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) is the professional body that regulates the practice of public relations in Nigeria. It ensures strict compliance to professional ethics, standardizes training of public relations, conducts professional examination and seminars and importantly bring together all practitioners in the country. Since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, there have been a few branding campaigns aimed at improving the image of the country. Based on the foregoing, this study seeks to critically appraise the role of public relations in Government established organization using Ministry of Information as a case study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Organizations have been embarking on public relations to create and maintain a mutual understanding with the public. The efficient running and management of government affairs and activities lie with promoting and implementing programmes and policies that impact on the public. On this note, the public totally understand and appreciate the activities of government thereby enhancing harmony and cordiality with the people. However, the goal often is far from being attained as the government implement its policies without the impact and understanding of the public. Thus, the study seeks to provide a critical appraisal of public relation roles in government established organization. Since there is limited to non-existent literature that analyzed the roles of public relations in government organization, this study attempts to breach the gap in literature.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to critically appraise the roles of public relations in government established organization. Specifically, the study seeks to:
- Assess the nature of public relations function in the Federal Ministry of Information, Abuja.
- Determines public relations Strategies adopted by Federal Ministry of Information, Abuja.
1.4 Research Questions
The study shall answer the following questions:
- What is the nature of public relations functions on the Ministry of Information, Abuja?
- What are the public relations Strategies adopted by Federal Ministry of Information, Abuja?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The issue of public relations roles in government established organization has become a necessary subject for everyone especially those in government institutions, civic society and the media. Hence, the result of this study shall be of immense importance to the following:
- Government at all levels
- The public
- News agencies
The government shall benefit from the study because the result will better position the officials to know key areas to utilize the public relations and seek new ways to improve the identified loopholes for effective public relation roles.
The public on their part shall from the study understand in clearer details the exclusive roles of public relations in order to avoid expectations that are not part of the job description. Also, it shall help the public to access more information from the public relations for reliable updates on the activities of the government.
The news agencies shall benefit from this study because the result will make them understand exact roles of the public relations which could enable them properly place their expectations and news extractions.
Similarly, the findings of this study will serve as an additional literature on the topic for students and researchers who will like to carry out similar research while, the material will form bulk literature that exist in the field of mass communication, journalism, development journalism and media studies, etc
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study is on the role of public relations in government established organization. The scope of the study shall be limited to Federal Ministry of Information, Abuja. Thus, the period for this study is 5 years’ timeline because the present administration had been in office between 2015 to date.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Critical: This refers to carefully examine the role that public relations is playing or expected to play in government establishment.
Appraisal: It means to evaluate the basic role expected of public relations officer or unit/department in government institutions.
Public Relations: This is a person or unit or department saddled with the responsibility of creating and maintaining mutual understanding between government or government agency and public.
Role: It refers as the function or contribution expected of public relations person or unit in a typical government establishment.
Government Establishment: These are institutions or agencies establish by government to carry out certain function e.g Ministry of Information.