DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AND THE LIMITATIONS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

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CHAPTER ONE

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Growth can mean different things for developed, developing and underdeveloped countries. Rogerian (1996) argued that “development is a widely participatory process of social changes in a society intended to bring about social and material advancement for the majority of people through their gaining of greater control over the environment”. It might be difficult to differentiate a developing country from an underdeveloped country because there is no much difference in their similarities.

Therefore, a developing country is a country that is still undergoing the process of attaining a generally acceptable level of sufficiency with respect to resources. To attain the height of a developing country, some development tools must be applied and one of these is Public Relations. The methods of public relations are highly result-oriented, hence, the need for its use to attain the status of a developing country. Public relations has been efficiently used by developed countries. Public relations can be expressed as the practice of managing the spread ofinformationbetween an individual or anorganization(such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and thepublic(Grunig et al., 1984). It encompass a sound and organized two-way communication and continuous information dissemination. Information creates knowledge which helps in shaping opinion with a view to winning goodwill that could be built with the aid of Public Relations practices.

Public Relations as a profession is concerned with communicating policies and actions to special groups or the public at large (Ekpo, 1993).

The British Institute of Public relations (BIPR) defines public relations as ‘the deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.” This definition suggests that public relations is the creation or establishment of mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. It also suggests that public relations is not a haphazard process. It must be consciously designed. Planning calls for attention, deliberation, research, anticipation, analysis and consequences. Public relations efforts must ensure that not only does the organisation understand its publics, the publics must equally understand the organisation. It must understand its reasons for whatever actions it takes. As a public relations officer or manager of your firm, for instance, it is your duty to ensure that mutual understanding is achieved between your firm and its several publics. More often than not, the publics are passive at performing this role. Therefore, your organisation must take proactive steps towards achieving it. ‘Sustained effort’ means that it is not enough to start the plan; it must be carried through to a logical end. This is not usually very easy in the face of a precarious economy, political instability and other factors. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) says “public relations is concerned with or devoted to creating mutual understanding among groups and institutions.” The PRSA recognises the place of groups and institutions in the public relations process. It admits that these entities have interests that must be protected. It also presupposes a streamlining of these benefits for mutual good. The concept of mutuality in this definition makes you as a public relations man or woman an intermediary between your organisation and its publics. This implies that you should be able to align the interests of these two parties for their mutual advantage. You do this by convincing your organisation that public relations attempts to put the broad interest of the public first before the special interest of the organisation. By doing this, the organisation is indirectly serving its own interest; hence PR has what is called “enlightened self interest”. Another definition is that given Cutlip, Center and Broom, in their book Effective Public Relations which is considered the bible of public relations in America. According to them, public relations is the “management function that identifies, establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and its publics upon whom its success depends.” Now, take note of the last part of the definition, ‘upon whom its success depends,’ because this is one fact that very many organizations have not realized. A company’s success or failure depends considerably on its relationship with its various publics. We shall see these publics in another module.

Public relations is a management tool designed to establish support among a firm’s various internal and external publics (Thomas & Lane, 1990). Another definition stated that public relations includes activities that is built around a favorable company’s image through publicity, and community events (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler, 2009). The major functions of public relations are to create and maintain excellent relations with the organization’s internal and external stakeholders, such as persons and private, governmental, and societal entities in general.

Public relations can have a strong impact on public awareness at a much lower cost than advertising (Kotler & Armstrong, 2006). The tools used in public relations are press releases, lobbying, product publicity, investor’s relations, and development. In this article, press releases, public affairs, and lobbying will be discussed. The CEOs of corporate sustainability efforts can use lobbying to persuade public and/government officials to favor a particular position or decision-making (Price & Ferrell, 2003).

Modern public relations has evolved to embrace corporate sustainability; corporate sustainability is built around the organizational structure that embraces public relations theories and practices. Ecological, sociological, and corporate/business elements must be properly promoted internally/externally by utilizing public relations efforts in order to provide the most updated information to stakeholders/employees and the public (Penning, 2007). In reference to the power center of corporate sustainability, organizations need to have CEOs with strategic background, intent, and vision in order to direct public relations to the three target areas specified in this article.

Organizations throughout the world need to understand the value of public relations in an effort to meet institutional goals and objectives. More specifically, the overall organizational strategic plan needs to incorporate public relations initiatives within the short/long term planning to avoid internal/external communication mishaps (Public Relations Society of America, 2013).

Today, governments all over the world achieve good governance by employing Public Relations.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Developing countries now need public relations techniques as part of the tools needed to achieve national development, especially in areas such as mobilization of the citizenry and their enlightenment with respect to the benefits of such a development. Public relations practice are not well understood in this continent, that is, many organizations and individual do not understand the concept of the profession, though they engaged in it on a daily basis, yet they do not appreciate the role of public relations and hence do not have or consider public relations as an integral part of their daily activities. Many people or professionals do not consider this as an area that needs much expertise. Many would rather major in science disciplines or business and still finds themselves in a public relations job. Most of those who occupy the positions of public relations in both government and private organization are not public relations major. Some claims to be practitioners simply because they are practicing journalist. Insufficient promotional activities, inadequate public relations practitioners and relatively low funding of public relations programs in such countries have an adverse effect on the practice of the profession.

RESEARCH QUESTION                                                                       

1.     Are there factors inhibiting the effective practice of public relations in developing countries?

2.     Can public relations practice be enhanced in developing countries?

3.     What are the limitations against effective public relations practice in Nigeria

AIMS AND OBJECTIVE OF STUDY

The aim of this studies is to critically study how Public Relations can aid the growth of developing countries. The objectives are:

1.     To ascertain if there are factors obstructing the effective practice of public relation in developing countries.


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