*     Getting Started, The PR Unit


*          Public Relations functions;

                                    Press Briefing

                                    Features, Press Review,

                                    Relationship Management,



*          Social Responsibility


*            Corporate Advertising, Lobbying


*            Spokesperson, Corporate Gifts


*            Information Technology




























A traditional role of financial management, according to Alan Walter Steiss, in his book Financial Management in Public Organisations, is that of score keeping. He noted that reports of past performances are prepared for internal management as well as outside groups, such as stockholders, creditors and the general public. Such reports, which are necessary, may pinpoint responsibility for deviations from previous approved plans. He emphasised that the extent to which these deviations can be attributed to specific components of the organisation depends on the degree of sophistication built into the accounting and related control mechanisms. Therefore, a good financial management requires careful consideration of the alternative scorekeeping and reporting method at informing the relevant publics adequately.


Major public relations activities revolve around the use of printed words, spoken words and images for effective communication as explained below:


Printed Words involve the publication of newspapers, magazines, bulletins, posters, brochures, banner/billboards, handbooks, personalised letters and also the provision of notice boards for the placement of press releases, special announcements and pictorials.


Spoken words are relevant during the participation of the organisation at seminars, workshops, tours, launching, exhibitions, trade fair, visits, courtesy calls, display and condolence visits.


Images refer to the vision from electronic media, video, films, Information Technology, computers, satellite, amongst others.


Large organisations that relate with the public, create a special department or unit to be responsible for projecting and publicising the activities for achieving better public understanding.  Public institutions like the Ministry of Finance, Federal Inland Revenue Service and even the Nigeria Customs Service, have Public Relations Units. The Public Relations Officer in some of those organisations, is usually called Press Secretary or Corporate Affairs Officer who is assigned to monitor media reports, study public perceptions of the organisation’s policies and reacts accordingly with the information at his disposal.


Unlike in the privately owned companies, whose public affairs responsibilities are similar, Public Relations Units in the fiscal and monetary agencies of government interpret financial decisions just as it operates in other financial institutions. In fact, their operation can be seen as that of public finance, while that of financial institutions operate within the private finance regulation.


In most institutions’ organograms, Public Relations Units are situated under the office of the Chief Executive Officer of the organisation. The major responsibilities of the unit include, monitoring daily newspaper reports, writing press/media reviews, issuing press releases, writing feature articles, organising press briefings and conferences, coordinating media interviews, cutting newspaper clips relevant to the functions of the organisation and responding to media enquiries.


Big institutions too, like banks, insurance firms, industries and other such organisations, do have such a special unit for maintaining cordial and favourable relationship with the various publics they relate with. In the banking sector, they prefer to call the section Corporate Affairs Department and headed by a management staff.


As it must be understood, most of the listed companies do make financial statements and present financial reports, which is understood by few.  It is, therefore, the responsibility of the image-making unit to interpret such financial reports in a more informative and educative style for the understanding of its publics.


Specifically, financial institutions are known to widely express their operations and activities in figurative terms, which are factual, such as Annual Reports, Balance Sheets and Profit and Loss Accounts.  Even to those in the financial world, the need to analyse or calculate figures to fully understand the position of the firm is quite inevitable.  It is therefore, not surprising that finance managers must understand such ratio formula to understand the financial position of a firm through a better understanding of financial ratios and economic indices.  It is worth noting here that, though financial management is a subject on its own right with its own body of literature and identifiable philosophy, a good public relations officer in the financial setting will require adequate knowledge of financial management to be able to discharge his functions effectively.  The officer must be awake to the challenges of the financial world by acquiring sound financial knowledge on subjects such as economics, taxation, accounting and financial management as they will be of immense benefit in disseminating accurate information and understanding the constraints within which the activities of his organisation take place.


The knowledge of the field becomes necessary for an officer in the public finance organisation too, to grapple with the operations of the establishment, which is related to the financing of state activities.  That is where the knowledge of public finance is also helpful since public finance is defined as “a subject, which discusses the financial operations of the fiscal public treasury”.



Different names are given to the section that handles public relations activities. While in the public sector, they prefer to call it Press and Public Relations Unit/Department, the private sector, for style and befitting functions, which may be attractive or acceptable to their operations, mostly call the section various names, ranging from Corporate Affairs, Public Affairs, Government/External Relations to Reputations Management Department. The designation may be different but they all refer to the same functions of managing the image of the organisation with the various publics.


A Public Relations Unit maintains maximum goodwill, public support and also safeguards the image of its organisation by responding promptly to public criticisms, even that of the internal publics. 


Most heads of Press and Public Relations in federal ministries are posted through the Federal Ministry of Information, after their recruitment by the Federal Civil Service Commission. Officers are posted to relevant ministries based on their qualifications and experience.  The Federal Ministry of Information is responsible for information dissemination at all levels of government.  It has special departments for the general press and public relations activities of the federal government.  The operational departments of the Ministry of Information are the Press and Internal Publicity Department that is responsible for posting Resident Information Officers (Press Secretaries) to all ministries, including Finance and extra-ministerial departments. Public Relations department is assigned with the role of projecting the good image of the government and the nation, while External Publicity Department is charged with handling diplomatic press related issues and posting of Information Attaché abroad. Resident Information Officers are posted with the responsibility of heading the Press and Public Relations Unit of ministries.  The officers are usually called Press Secretaries to Chief Executives. Similar sections and departments exist at the state and sometimes at the local government levels.



Every profession has its tools and paraphernalia of office for discharging assigned duties creditably and satisfactorily. Failure to acquire pre-requisite tools may result in a woeful failure at the end of the day. For the manager to handle various functions relating to the organisation and its publics, the following are necessary and recommendable equipment for in-house practitioner or consultants to discharge the duties effectively.


Basic Tools: One of the qualities of a good public relations officer is a flair for writing, which includes ability to script, analyse and edit write-ups for internal and external publics in form of press releases, features, and advert scripts. Therefore, the basic tools of a good writer include the possession of writing materials like pencils, pen, papers and even files for separating documents and specifying issues and matters for his professional calling. A jotter should also, at all times, be handy during meetings, special events and during interviews to note relevant points. It is here too that we have some small but impetus tools like scissors, staplers, gums and cello-tape for paper cuttings and placement of notices, bulletins and photographs on notice boards.


Electronics: The modern society depends largely on sophisticated equipment for gathering, editing and sending messages across. These apparatuses include television and radio for monitoring events and news as they unfold. It enables the organisation to be acquainted with the current happenings in the society. As the video/photo camera and radio recorder are useful in covering activities for use in public enlightenment programmes and for documentation for future references, so also is a public address system for communication to reach large audiences during special functions. Midget tape recorder too is required in recording speeches made by chief executives and respondents during interview sessions and at press conferences. 


Information Materials: To keep track of happenings and monitor adequately, the provision of regular daily newspapers, magazines, and journals is paramount. Relevant textbooks like dictionaries and   encyclopedias help in accurate comprehension of words, terms and events. Books of quotations are also useful while researching for features and speeches. Most well-organised diaries have relevant directories of addresses of offices, media establishments and institutions that are imperative to the interaction and operation of any organisation. The public relations officer should compile the directory of the offices and residences of board and management staff where not available, and update it from time to time.



Every organisation looks for the best hand to handle its various functions. The investment in public relations, as it is with other business undertakings, naturally yields fruitful dividends and organisations must expend substantial amounts of money on it, to maintain or improve their PR units.


To achieve success in its communication with its publics, an organisation must clearly study and analyse its position in the society and/or market and get a specialist to manage its image. It may either recruit a PR staff or engage the services of public relations consultancy firms, which are abundant in the country.


Nowadays, most big organisations prefer to have their internal PR unit to handle all their public relations activities like media relations, event sponsorship, advertising, etc. Some organisations attach the PR man to an existing department. This may not be advisable as PR is a management function, which gives special privilege to the officer to interact freely with the management, contribute meaningfully to decision making and report directly to the Chief Executive.


To have an efficient PR officer, the organisation must analyse its public relations’ priority to enable it determine the ideal candidate it needs. This may even provide career prospects for the officer in the organisation and motivate him to put in his best in discharging his duties.


A good academic qualification in Mass Communications or Public Relations, relevant and useful job experience, practical skills, and additional degrees in related fields like economics, Business Administration, Finance, Political Science and even Law, are prerequisites for an effective financial public relations man. Special attributes and characteristics may also be considered based on the nature of the job. A go-getter personality with good temperament that demonstrates energetic initiative and creative demeanour will enable the officer to champion fresh ideas and worthwhile programmes that are implementable to the advantage of his organisation. Amiability, resourcefulness and openness without necessarily being frivolous, are qualities that can enable the officer to attend to any enquiry and situation with ease without giving wrong signals to the public.


For those without an educational background in Mass Communication or Public Relations, a good training in communications is recommended. If they desire a distinguishing career in Public Relations, they are to be registered with the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) to be qualified to practise.  Many higher institutions offer Mass Communications, which covers areas of public relations, journalism and advertising. Some of the universities that offer degrees and special professional programmes include Bayero University Kano, University of Lagos, University of Maiduguri, University of Nigeria Nsukka and several other state universities and polytechnics.

In a nutshell, the personalities of a reliable and effective communicator must include ability to write well which involves analytical, critical reasoning, inquiring mind and sound editorial judgment. Having self-confidence and ability to work with minimal supervision is crucial to taking timely decisions. Amiability, humility and openness to criticisms, are not weaknesses but attributes of the officer as a team player and builder who desires pleasant and lively relationship towards people-oriented programmes and at the same time, enables him  adjust to changes. He must also have a high sense of urgency to ensure timeliness and accuracy of work.



To be a good leader of the public relations team, the manager should realise what his schedules encompass and the capability and ability to delegate some of those responsibilities to his subordinates. Basically, public relations’ key activities revolve around three roles, which are issuance, organisation and publishing. For clarity, issuance includes the regular distribution of press releases, features articles, cassettes of video coverage and pictures of photo coverage, in addition to related documents and materials that are useful for information dissemination.


The role of organisation has to do with media events like press briefing/conference, media interview, seminars/workshop, exhibitions and for the purpose of public enlightenment.


Publishing involves the publication of in-house informative materials. This also includes in-house bulletins, magazines, annual handbooks, calendars and diaries, which promote the corporate image of the organisation.


There is also the speaking which is representation of the chief executive of the organisation on issues that need clarification for better public understanding. Speech writing too, is in this category.                    


According to Di Burton, effective leaders’ needs are personal competence, social competence and cognition. Therefore, a good manager must be an achiever, self-confident and committed to his work. He should be flexible to be influenced by good decisions and contributions of others and be politically aware of his environment by allowing empathy between him and others who may influence him positively. The officer should think strategically not rationally or emotionally by seeking out information that is useful to his day-to-day activities. In a nutshell, the officer should have determination and self control, superior intelligence over his group, be alert to the environment, participate in team activities and have good appearance.



No manager is ever master of all. Hardly can he do all the job without assistance, unless he fears for his incompetence and weakness which others may exploit to remove him from the office. A good manager is one who has confidence and respect for his team, and assigns specific responsibilities to each member for optimal performance. For a better and successful team work, the PR manager should motivate his team members by setting high standards for himself and clear standards for the members. These officers should be able to provide leadership by example and delegate functions effectively. All members should jointly or individually assign clarified roles to ensure they know their tasks. This would be easier, if individual strengths and weaknesses are identified, which can be built on and overcome respectively. All these could be achieved, if the team leader communicates effectively by listening to his team’s needs and constructive criticisms. He should be willing to support them by encouraging initiatives and include them in decision-making. They would be proud to put in their best towards the success of the department.



The Press Secretary and Corporate Affairs Manager, as the case may be, in a government organisation, is placed under the office of the Chief Executive like in the Office of Chairman, Honourable Minister, Commissioner, Comptroller-General, Accountant-General or the Managing Director. He is assigned to protect the ideals and interests of the organisation by presenting acceptable and favourable news and tactically suppressing unacceptable and erroneous information about the organisation without injury to the credibility and integrity of the firm.


In banks and other financial institutions, the boards decide the structure of the unit. Some have full-fledged departments of Corporate Affairs with a General Manager or Executive Director to man it. But the management of such an organisation still finds it comfortable under the office of the Chief Executive. 

The PR method of maintaining credibility and creating continuous awareness of the activities of an organisation is through the following:

Press Releases;

Features Articles;

Press Review;

Press Briefing;




Press releases are also called news releases. They are one of the most acknowledged PR methods of reaching the public through the news media. They must be written in flawless language and journalistic style. No matter how good a writer is, once he doesn’t use the media technique appropriately, they hardly get used in the press.


The essence of press releases is to capture the salient news items from the organisation in the absence of the media who might not be there to cover it or to portray the story from unambiguous angle.


In fact, the press releases is written and issued for many reasons. Some of these include covering unexpected events, which makes the media coverage difficult, such as unscheduled courtesy calls by prominent individuals and bodies, where important issues affecting a large populace is mentioned. They are also valuable in public pronouncements on novel political directions and the organisation’s progress and to pre-empt anticipated actions such as forecasting expected development. It is important to note that it is more appropriate for the use of press releases for the announcement of promotions and new appointment of staff and management and also to publicise forthcoming significant ceremonies.


If there is any problem of press releases, it is mostly on the mode of writing, which may be grammatical inaccuracy or inconsistency in the write up. Added to this is the attempt to advertise issues instead of making them newsworthy, which will address the public’s innate desire that is significant to their living. The acceptability of good feature news stories lies in the prominence of the parties involved, proximity to the local community, timeliness in its release or distribution and its direct impact on the existing issues in the society. The major problem is the failure to distinguish between news items and adverts while writing press releases.


Some press officers only write press releases to impress their Chief Executives and to build up files in order to justify their competence, which at the end of the day may end up in the editor’s dustbin.


Other features of newsworthiness are outrageous, strange occurrences, bizarre consequences and eccentric behaviour, which a good PR man can capitalise upon to get his story used instantly. But this involves adequate knowledge of the techniques so that the story would not be misleading.


There is a popular way of writing news stories called the inverted pyramid style. It begins with the most important aspect of the news to the less important. The 5Ws & H (what, why, where, when, who and how) of the story must be clarified. This gives an editor the discretion to read the story to suit his paper’s editorial policy and house style.


All said, the news release should be devoid of advertising puffery, high-sounding jargons, unnecessary praise singing and length. It must be known that the editor is not under any obligation to use the story in whole or in part. So, it must be written in such a way that it appeals to the editor and suits the editorial policy of the media house.


There may be a slight distinction between writing press releases for the print media and scripting for the electronic media. The distinction is not a big deal, since the producers in broadcasting media are competent in editing materials submitted to suit their news programmes, but it must be noted that the electronic media always require short, precise, straight-to-the-point write-ups and easily pronounced words. This is so because of the limited airtime and audio technique requirements of the newscasters.


Sometimes, a press release is better packaged if it is attached with relevant pictures or video recording of the events to add essence to the news item. There are times when volumes of data and fact may be necessary for incorporation into the release, but it will be better if the press release serves as the cover and summary on the data. The lengthy document can only serve as an attachment for the editor’s consideration and preference on the use of whole or an aspect of the data. It may even be useful for subsequent background information for other stories, features or even editorial comments in the media.   The Nigerian Stock Exchange has succeeded in daily release of activities on the stock market to the media. Through systematic and analytical presentation, the media find it compelling to use  the figures which has the listing of participating companies, quotation, number of deals, market prices, quantities traded, value of share and price earning ratio.                       


Information is the vital instrument for keeping the public adequately informed on any issues or matter of concerns to them. Apart from issuing press releases, the organisation may have a lengthy material of information, which may be of significant interest to the public and which may use the media to get the message across. A feature article must be well composed in such a way that the media may be willing to use it. It may serve as an opinion, commentary, rejoinder, profile, news analysis, etc. It may even have an editorial format but most importantly, it should be well researched and factual. No editor will accept substandard, inconsistent write-up, with spelling and grammatical mistakes. Most newspaper editors often prefer the write-ups typed double-spaced for ease of editing. 


It’s glorifying to note that even the major requirement on the Nigerian Stock Exchange is the quarterly submission of financial reports. Same with budget proposals, which must be accurate and logical for approval. This, like editorial comments, is to build confidence in the finance community who may develop interest and desire to invest in the system.


A feature article from the public sector always seeks to highlight government’s new policies and programmes and how the public is requested to support such with understanding. It may also serve as a further clarification on unclear issues of the day.


In the private sector, the public relations officer is to give a vivid highlight for the benefit of investors. By so doing, he rewrites the annual ritual of financial statements, which is mandatory for all serious financial institutions.  Since a financial statement gives a breakdown of investors’ returns on investments at the end of the financial year, which is usually the compilation of quarterly results, it is one of the best materials for feature publications in the media.


While scripting annual financial reports for features, it is desirable that what the investor may look for should be put forward. Analysis may be made on profitability or loss account over the specific period. The balance sheet part of the annual report is also useful when mentioned, in assessing the viability of the organisation. This should comprise its assets and liability, likewise its reserve. Other aspects like returns on investments (ROI) is necessary to indicate the strength of the firm to withstand unfavourable climates in subsequent years. Names too also matter in the write-up. Respectable members of the board or management who are accomplished in their professional callings may be mentioned. Good names, like good products, attract investors’ attention.


Even though not all articles are published due to editorial conveniences of the media houses, the material, with enough fund, can be published in a booklet and pamphlet forms for distribution during Annual General Meeting (AGM) or other related events and to the finance community. It may even be placed as an advert. The process, worth the task if the desire is to educate and inform the public on the operations of the firm. Like in the banking and insurance sectors, the Ministries of Finance at federal and state levels, do publish annual budget breakdowns in booklet forms after copies are distributed to the press and also buy pages of selected newspapers and air time in the electronic media for full coverage.



The officer daily browses through and reviews newspapers.  Relevant news or feature items as related to the functions of the ministry are cut into clips.  Such clips that have direct or indirect bearing on the organisation are submitted to the chief executive in a file with a covering ‘memo’ briefly summarising the contents of the message in each story cut.  The chief executive studies the review to keep him fully informed about public perception and how his organisation is faring.



This assignment is also undertaken by most of the corporate affairs managers of banks and other related financial institutions to study the performance and activities of their competitors in the market and get informed on a daily exchange rate, stock market index, equity prices, treasury bill rates and other financial reports, on business pages.



Press briefing, as the name implies, is the melting point where the organisation invites media correspondents for the purpose of providing them with necessary information. The briefing is to intimate journalists, in a conducive environment, on new developments. Questions may be entertained from the media and they may be given materials on the issues at stake. Press briefing, however, should not be abused in the place of press release or press reception. It may by the most desirable and appropriate.


Though press briefings and press conferences have similar features, the latter are more encompassing and broader in scope. When a press conference is called, not only the media are invited, the stakeholders too may participate as members of the audience. While press briefing can be undertaken as often as possible with the PRO as spokesman, a press conference is mostly intended to attract the media executives to meet with the Chie Executive of the organisation. There may also be side attractions like entertainment, dinner and exhibitions. It is interesting to note that Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) under the leadership of Mr. Nasir El-Rufai, organises a weekly media briefing which sometimes is addressed by the Chief Executive or the Corporate Affairs manager. The Bureau’s media technique has kept the public well informed on its activities especially on the privatisation and commercialisation of public institutions.       


Press Briefings and Press Conferences are better ways of communicating face-to-face, and they allow room for penetrating questions from the media. The Chief Executive of the organisation or anybody delegated to speak on the occasion, should be well composed and well trained on interview techniques, especially in the art of answering questions from the press. A prepared speech may be delivered, but there must be a room for questions, unless it is stated otherwise in the invitation. Even though, the forum is designated to be in the form of a questions-and-answers session, that should not rule out suggestions and recommendations from the audience. The spokesperson should be calm in the face of any hostile and confrontational enquiries from the press during such sessions.


Most banks and Insurance firms consider a briefing before their special events like product launch, Annual General Meetings and recall of products. A press briefing can come before the real press conference, which is most likely to be acceptable to most of the Business Editors.


Other forms of get-togethers between the organisation and the press are through such societal engagements where entertainment is provided. It facilitates opportunity for information and interaction in both formal and informal ways, like a press reception. This can come in the pattern of special parties which are at present tagged Press Breakfast, Launch and Dinner, to enable the organisation interacts freely with the media. This may be appropriate when introducing a new chief executives, board members, top management staff or visitors to the media. It may also be organised after a successful outing and achievements recorded by the organisation.

While preparing for press briefings, there is the need to make sure that the period and timing do not coincide with other important engagement. The venue too should be suitable and accessible for the invited journalists to locate.


Press Briefing Requirements


(a)             Invitation:             Invitation to the media through letters and/or cards, are very essential in getting them to honour the occasion. The invitation should state the purpose of the event, conducive venue, as well as appropriate data and time. Such a request must be dispatched well ahead of the time, unless during an urgent and emergency briefing. Such prompt phone calls to the editors can be acknowledged, if the occasion is newsworthy. There should also be reminders through calls and other appropriate communication channels.


(b)            Materials: Where the occasion requires facts, figures and historical perspectives, a prepared speech and relevant literature are indispensable to avoid being misquoted by the press. If it involves tangible new products, pictures and samples may be distributed to the media.


(c)            Supporting Staff: Some Press Conferences are jointly addressed by more than one corporate body. On other occasions, the chief executive may need the support of other officers who are more abreast with the issues at hand. In such situations, it is imperative to have the relevant staff face the media. The sitting or standing arrangement should take into consideration those that may complement the effort of the spokesperson in giving out the right and factual information.

(d)            Entertainment: Light refreshment may be offered at the end of the conference. But the nature of the briefing, most of the time, determines the need for entertainment. A briefing in a crisis situation could dictate the mood of what should be provided for entertainment. Also, a conference during breakfast period may require light refreshments.


(e)            Logistics: Public relations practice does not condone any act of inducement and gratification to journalists covering assignments but can provide some kind of incentive to take care of inconvenience and transportation to and from the venue. This provision facilitates the task of the journalists to carry out their responsibilities to the society with ease. Some special corporate gifts and souvenirs could be presented to sustain the corporate image of the organisation.


(f)            Executive Briefing: The spokesperson who would address the media, preferably the Chief Executive or the most senior management staff responsible on the issue, should be well briefed on the situation and expectation. The officer should be well armed to respond to the questions adequately. An anticipated questionnaire may be provided by the Public Relations Officer.


Some of the keys and technical points may be rehearsed as a practical preparation for a successful outing.



The words “public” and “relations” in public relations have unified meaning, which is geared towards the establishment and maintenance of harmonious relationship between an organisation and its publics. This can be done through creating goodwill, understanding, building image and managing crises with the various publics. It can also apply in many relationship objectives where relationship managers try as much as possible to strengthen the existing relationship with their organisation’s relevant publics. It is for this reason that we have such special roles as employee relations, customer/dealers relations, investor relations, community relations, shareholders relations, distributors

relations, media relations, sponsorship relations and diplomatic or international relations.


The relationship is intended to harmonise areas of interest and of concern between the organisation and the parties involved. This must be mutual sharing of understanding to minimise or eradicate conflict and misconceptions and strengthen the unity of purpose based on truth and honest information.


In public relations, more time is devoted to either customer relations or media relations, which have daily recurrence and impact on the organisation’s goals. But understanding the two functions enables the practitioner to cover other relationships mentioned above which are interrelated. For instance, through good customer relations technique, it is easier to tackle investor/shareholder relations, employee relations and to some extent, dealer/distributor relations .On its own strength, with good media relations, areas that can be efficiently covered include community relations and diplomatic or international relations.


Customer relations is quite restrictive. It is geared towards a specific target. The philosophy behind this relations, which is seen as a key to marketing management, is to employ the salesman’s persuasive technique. Their features include calmness even when provoked, adequate information for the benefit of the customers, personal contact and listening and attending to complaints lodged.

The saying that customers are always right is a point in this direction, if an organisation intends to always maintain patronage. When there is need to disagree, it should be expressed in absolutely polite manner. Customers are neither illiterate nor ignorant; they therefore need the support of relationship managers in understanding the nitty gritties of the products or services to carry out their patronage.


There is nothing wrong in listening and attending to complaints even if aggressively lodged. Human composition is dynamic, as everyone has a distinct personality and temperament different from the other. It is therefore necessary to treat the specific target with decorum and higher regards.


Media relations, which is indisputably an aspect of public relations, covers both specific targets and the general public. The belief is that a better and well-planned relationship with media organisations, through truthful, unbiased information will reach more public than ever expected. A good manager of media relations must have an open door policy and respect members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, as distinguished professionals who should be treated with respect and accorded necessary support in discharging their social responsibilities. Most of the activities under public relations end up with media participations, such as press briefings, media interviews, visits and special programmes which are all well covered through an effective media relations.  


Activities under this are aimed at establishing cordial and mutual relationships with the media.  Through this, the public relations officer issues to the media regular press releases, feature articles, pictures or videocassettes and where necessary, refute insinuations or false reports through rejoinders.  The unit must at all times be open to the media for enquiries and to the public who need information.  The objective is to get the citizens informed on the activities of the organisation and also, to create opportunities for them to express their views and needs. In recent times, the Federal Ministry of Finance and other financial institutions have savoured their relationship with specialised media reporters popularly called Finance Correspondents.  Relationship with these specialised reporters under the umbrella of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) makes it easy to deal directly with those whose beat is to cover finance related matters.


In addition, there is also the Business Editors Forum whose members represent reputable and principled media houses with high standards, decent and enviable professional practices, distinct from junk and unserious publications who desire and emphasize commercial opportunism, sensationalism and unwarranted reports.


The Business Editors Forum and FICAN have been very reliable and effective at objective media coverage of financial activities. The associations have, in recent times, been appreciated for maintaining objectivity and fairness in their members’ reports and feature analyses.



Sponsored programmes are common in the private sector where manufacturing, pharmaceutical and bottling companies regularly sponsor beauty pageants, talk-shows, drama presentations, fashion shows and exhibitions.  The purpose, if for anything, is a reminder that they are responsible to the society.  Sponsored programmes are quite different from paid adverts.


Time without number, many individuals and organisations fail to achieve anticipated results through organised events. This may be due to several factors. The failure may not be unconnected with shabby arrangements, lack of commitment and refusal to put particular personnel or group in confidence. Omission of items may also be the reason for any messy events.


It is a known fact that events are carried out on a daily basis. It is either the Annual General Meetings of profit-making financial institutions or organised seminars or conferences by public institutions. All the events have sole intention of information dissemination and enlightenment campaigns, which seek to receive public acceptability.


Some areas where event management is imperative are in organising product launch, charity promotions, trade fair/exhibitions, award ceremonies, conferences, facility tours, fund raising and reception, parties and training programmes.


With good planning, which is mentioned elsewhere in this book, the organisation should be able to realise its goals through the following:

Aims/Objectives: which is a prerequisite to determining whether or not there is the need for the event.


Timing: The date, period and a length of time for the event to take place. There is always the need to avoid collision with other major events so that one may not overshadow the other, unless it is deliberate for competition. The itinerary of items on the event should be fashioned out and executed accordingly.


Invitation: Invitation cards or letters must be dispatched to special guests. The media where applicable, may also be used to announce and publicise the event; its benefit cannot be under estimated. Care must be taken in the wordings and quality of the material for the invitation.


Delegation: In event management, there is nothing like a one-man-show, except the officer responsible is himself a robotic computer that can be everywhere at the same time, delegation of responsibility is necessary. Some personnel may be asked to be in charge of invitation, a master of ceremony may be invited, and others may be responsible for contact, electronics and print media relations.


Budgeting: Everything has its financial implications. From the initial stage of the preparation, most of the activities involve funds to execute them. Therefore, cost must be attached appropriately to activities. The venue, printing materials, entertainment, and consultancy fees, are cost to cover the entire expenses toward the success of the event. Accountability is however the watchword here.


Follow-up: While arrangements are going on, there is need for a further reminder to the expected guests and participants, same with getting feedbacks from all angles. This may help in anticipating unexpected developments, which may call for adequate arrangement and proper adjustment.


Logistics: All the requirements must be considered and met: securing the venue for the event, transportation/flight arrangement for participants, accommodation, entertainment and refreshment. The requirements may vary from one organisation to the other, based on their financial capacity and the nature of

the events. An event can also be jointly sponsored with other bodies. The contribution of each partner must be well known to the other.


Review: After all said and done, there must be an assessment of the impact of the programme for future improvement. No matter the situation, whether successful or otherwise, it is essential to send a word of appreciation to those who made positive contributions and/or participated in the programme. They will be willing to partake next time they are so invited.


Most of the time, the need to make pronouncement may become inevitable. The public relations office, through experienced officers, organises special event for the chief executive for the purpose of attracting media attention. Such activities include granting media interviews to selected media, organising press briefings/conferences, inviting the press whenever the need to cover courtesy calls, special visits, and sponsoring public-spirited programmes arises.



The regulatory bodies in the economy, state requirements for organising special events by Financial Institutions. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which monitors the capital market, specifies the company that can be quoted on the capital market with specific minimum number of the Board of Directors and the annual turnover. The same goes to the Central Bank of Nigeria that monitors the monetary institutions. It also dictates the requirements for making public statements, financial advertisement and public pronouncements. The essence of the mandatory requirements is to guide the institutions in


volved to conform to the stated financial standards and to protect the investing public from unscrupulous financial transactions.

For the purpose of public enlightenment, Central Bank of Nigeria has been very consistent in organising rich and quality annual programmes for different players in the economy. It funds courses, seminars and workshops for different groups, including finance journalists and even farmers. Special recognition awards are also offered by the bank annually which serve as motivator for improving productivity.



This is in fact a major and essential milestone charts by well-organised companies. The banks and insurance companies hold Annual General Meetings or AGM, for short to intimate shareholders and other relevant bodies with their positions in the previous financial year.  Public institutions usually have annual press briefings also to highlight their progress in the preceding year.


Some of the advantages of this can be summarised as detailed below:

            (a).             It promotes friendship and free interaction between                       the organisation and its major publics;

            (b). It develops further interest in the operation of the organisation;

            (c). It creates opportunities for communication between the organisation and its publics;

            (d). It gives the financial press enormous information and boosts its image;


            (e). It builds additional confidence from the investors to the ability of the firm to improve its financial standard; and

            (f). It gives a sense of pride to the management, employees (internal public) and even the shareholders and encourages them to do more in support of the organisation.




One thing is to have the idea and the interest of holding the meeting; the other is the ability to arrange a befitting and successful Annual General Meeting. The arrangement is slightly different from other events sponsored by the institution. The difference is that, while the other may be done at the discretion of the organisation or through the proposal of its relevant department, the Annual General Meeting is statutory and mandatory:


There are some basic concepts and settings for arranging the Annual General Meeting.

DATE: The regulatory body has made it compulsory for a financial institution to hold an Annual General Meeting within a particular period of time. Any contrary action may be seen as deviating from the acceptable norm. Apart from that, no shareholder or investor may like to be put in the dark over a long period of time on his investment. Even though some investors may be busy on working days, Annual General Meetings hold on any day of the week so far there is consensus from large stakeholders on their convenience.


            TIME: The point here is to determine other events slated for the meeting. There may be a programme intended to attract the financial press, exhibition, special opening ceremonies where a notable public figure may be invited to declare the meeting opening. The convenient time for the public figure must be sought by the officer, while the media aspect of the event is better fixed in the morning, towards mid-afternoon, so that media men may file their reports in good time for evening news or the following day’s story. The programme schedule must be timed and strictly observed, unless where it is not necessary.


ENVIRONMENT: Any place can be used for the meeting once it can accommodate the number of invited stakeholders. But for prestige a pleasurable and convivial atmosphere is desirable. A conducive, serene and beautiful environment lingers for so long in the mind. It is for this reason that organisations that can afford it annually, change the venue of their general meetings. An institution that has branches throughout the nation, or has products to exhibit, may prefer to expose its shareholders and potential investors to its facilities in its new offices and the product and financial services they offer. At the end of the day, a small tour, sightseeing and cultural events, may be organised for the pleasure of the participants.


HALL SETTING: The sitting arrangement, banner display position, participant identification tag, file and brochure, must be orderly and attractively designed and placed at the right positions. The sitting arrangement may be done in such a way that special groupings are separated and assembled in selected parts of the hall. Some of the groups may be the media, the legal and auditing firm, the shareholders, the management, board members, bankers etc.


QUORUM: Another mandatory requirement of an Annual General Meeting is the quorum, which is the minimum number of approved participants who must be present with the right to vote and contribute to the meeting. The number is the requirement before the meeting can proceed. Until when the quorum is formed, a decision is considered invalid.


AGENDA: The parties list the main itinerary of the meeting for deliberation. The items are listed in sequence for the discussion. These are the issues to be discussed. There is uniformity in the agenda of such meetings by financial institutions. Some include opening prayer, opening remarks, closing prayer and remarks. Ideally, the primary items in most agenda for discussion include the following:

            (a). To receive the report of the year and accounts;

            (b). To declare dividends;

  (c). To elect directors and to reappoint auditors and their remuneration;       

  (d). To consider and pass resolutions; and

              (e). To transact any other business.

ENTERTAINMENT: As an alternative to full entertainment, some organisations prefer refreshments. The dignitaries as the guests of the company may be provided with food and drinks and also be entertained with other side attractions for their amusement.


ANNUAL STATEMENT: Some call it Annual Reports, which is a history book of the last financial year and prospects for the current and possible progress in subsequent years.  



In-house publications are other effective methods of communication. Creating a distinguished style and format provides a unique corporate personality for the organisation.  Such publications, which public relations units handle, include newsletters, bulletin, brochures, annual reports, letter headings, calendars, seasonal cards and even complimentary cards.


It is believed that public relations staff have sound editorial judgements for producing corporate publications.


The importance of an in-house journal is to fully inform, educate and entertain the organisation’s internal and external publics on its social responsibilities and activities for promoting understanding among its internal and external publics.


In-house journals are not intended for profit or commercial reasons, but creation of marketing and publicity strategies.  Selecting a good printer through sampling products earlier produced is a better way of getting quality production.  The Public Relations Unit receives, gathers, edits and writes stories and features of public importance, with pictures of special events, for the publication.  If little fund is available, a newsletter or bulletin could be produced directly from computer print-outs and copies reproduced for circulation. Copies of the publication are distributed to the target audience.  The same goes for handbooks or a brief on the organisation. This may be incorporated in the Annual Statement of Account booklet. The purpose of the in-house publication is to maintain regular contacts with the company’s publics, including the press, who may extract excerpts from the periodicals.


Publications have remained the veritable instrument being employed by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for public enlightenment. According to Ganiyu Ogunleye, the Chief Executive of the corporation, since its establishment, it has been providing financial information on insured banks to the public. Such information, which hitherto was not articulated, has enabled the public to know the financial conditions of the Nigerian banks. The dissemination of financial information is done through the Annual Report and NDIC Quarterly, which are now regarded by operators and the academia, as veritable sources of information on the banking industry.


Seasonal cards are considered as the most affordable medium of exchanging goodwill and fraternity with the public, which is unlike other media, which may be regarded as very expensive to produce. But still, like other special publications for presentation, it is so designed that it projects the name and identity of the organisation in such a way that it becomes admirable and attractive. Seasonal cards, which are beautifully designed and emotionally worded, are produced for distribution during festivities or on special occasions, which may be religious, political or social. For instance, during Sallah and Christmas celebrations, festive cards are recommended for a display of affection. Some organisations go the extra mile of making special copies for placement as adverts in the media to catch the fancy of the general public.


While calendars and diaries are produced as presents for the New Year, stickers can also be distributed, to commemorate special occasion, or celebrate the anniversary of the existence of the organisation, as well as introduce its new products.


All these are intended at expressing goodwill to loved ones, customers and community leaders and also to improve on the public image perception of the organisation. The time of distribution may also go with special events, picnics, price discounting, product promotion/launch, and trade fair/bonanza.


These create conviviality and remain indelible in the minds of the participants and the receivers. This, additionally, is by far another method, which is a measure of social responsibility by the organisation to its teeming publics. In a nutshell, the essence of the publications is for the name of the organisation to be more conspicuous and registered at all times in places where they are displayed.



Letters to convey messages of congratulations, condolence and sympathy are officially written to create sense of solidarity show love sensitivity and care to others. The public relations officer advises on the need for such and recommends to his Chief Executive for endorsement.  He replies to enquiries and attends to public-spirited programmes on behalf of the organisation.  Preparing and sending seasonal cards and presents too, are to some extent, showcasing the company’s social responsibility.




The moment issues of social responsibility are mentioned, many people see it as a non-profit venture undertaken by a firm to seek support. Even though it may cost an organisation a fortune to execute social responsibility programmes, at the end of the day, it will profit the organisation. One private institution from the banking sector that succeeded immensely in doing this is Omega Bank. For instance, through good media relations, it once gave the succour to the first independent television in Nigeria, the African Independent Television (AIT), during its financial distress with a donation of a million Naira and the opening of accounts for other donors to make contributions, with the conviction that prayers could be used to persuade God to forgive sins. And for protection and prosperity, Omega Bank occasionally assembles large religious followers for praise worships annually. The MD of the bank, Mr. Agbetuyi, who is an evangelist-turned banker, reiterates that if man has faith in God and fears Him, there would be love and national development.



Most adverts focus greatly on paid products and services marketing.  Once a firm maintains good reputation and provides quality goods and services, protection of corporate image becomes the next step for survival in the competitive world. An institution that is blacklisted due to bankruptcy or for condoning illegality, no matter the degree of paid adverts on its product or service, would not receive public patronage.  Managing corporate reputations and image can only be fruitful through practical, acceptable norms and principles and it polished with public relations advertising, which is popularly known as corporate advertising.


Corporate advertising becomes necessary in view of the competition for news space and the fact that the media are not obliged to publish all favourable news and press releases about organisations.  Not all good news is news unless it has an element of high public interest or a little controversy, which are all elements of news worthiness.  It is in view of the editorial discretion of the media to use or not to use a story, that public relations employs corporate advertising to express all the good and favourable information about organisations.  It is the best approach to control the entire contents of their information, unedited, with respect to space and timing.  Annual Statements of Account of private institutions and budget breakdowns of government are paid for because of their length and the importance of allowing the publics get the full information.


Such special advertisements, which mostly have the sources of the information identified, improves continued public awareness, maintain acceptable corporate image makes for regular contact with the public and influence public opinions on issues of significance to the organisation.  Such advertisements include congratulatory messages on the country’s independence anniversary, on accomplishment in sporting and social activities, reports on the organisation’s achievements and success stories and sharing grieves with the public on misfortunes.



With democratic institution in place in Nigeria, where all tiers of government have roles to play in guiding the operation of any corporate entity, the need to seek a favourable disposition of the arms of government is quite obvious.  Meeting and working with regulatory and legislative bodies are the responsibility of a public relations unit.  Within the few months of the emergence of the Obasanjo’s civilian administration, the Ministry of Finance like other government establishments was requested to appear before members of the National Assembly to defend its budget or provide answer to sensitive issues brought before the House.  Even top government functionaries  were queried and sanctioned by the legislative arms while companies’ Chief Executives  have been queried on their administrative and operational styles. The pioneer Director General of Debt Management Office, Mr. Akin Arikawe used effective lobbying techniques to get the National Assembly to recognise the importance of the office. For the private firms too, issues bordering on welfare of their staff, recruitment policies, and performance of the organisation, as related to the interest of the citizenry, are of some issues the National Assembly usually looks into.


Therefore, public relations staff advise the management on public perceptions of the organisation and show support to the working of such group through encouragements, political contributions and showing greater supports to the arms of government.     



It is not only speaking in public that a good speaker can be recognised, but also courtesy on phone, group discussions and personal contacts, are efficient strategies for spokespersons. This is so because a responsible public relations officer represents the organisation often, to speak on the company’s position on issues bordering on public quest for information. Even though it is always recommended that the Chief Executive should take the responsibility of speaking to the public, a public relations officer who is eloquent, intelligent and knows how to avoid controversies would be desirable.  Pleading anonymity too sometimes pays off for public relations men who speak to the press on the basis of anonymity.  A good spokesperson should always know why, when, where, how and what to say.

The Chief Executive should be able to know the theme and points in his speech wherever invited to do so.  The PR unit recommends areas of concentration for the Chief Executive in presenting a well-researched and articulated speech. In some ministries, relevant departments that handle issues relating to the theme or the organisers of the occasion at which the speech is to be made, may be required to make input.


The department of Planning Research and Statistics is occasionally requested to gather relevant materials for such speeches, but a PR Unit points out areas of media and public interests.  The daily press reviews and paper cuttings may be useful as a guide to recent opinions on the issue in question.


To be a good speaker, a research may be conducted on the theme and the subject matter. Self-confidence, discipline and mastery of the language of delivery are very important, if only to get acceptance from the unpredictable audience.



Traditionally, occasions warrant presentation of gifts during seasonal periods, special events and in appreciation of exemplary qualities. This does not, by any means, justify those whose gifts are to wrongfully influence dubious and wrong actions. Corporate gifts are presented to create indelible mark in the minds of the recipients.  It is therefore reasonable that corporate gifts like wall clocks, artifacts and bags bear the name of the recipients and that of the organisation be presented.



According to Peak W.J. in his  “Community Relations” handbook, he described community relations as a public relations function in which an institution plans an active and continuing participation within a community to maintain and enhance its environment to the benefit of both the institution and the community.


The organisation should strive to be seen as a partner to the community by providing employment opportunities, scholarships, sponsorship of programmes and sporting competitions, free interaction with the host community, engaging in developmental efforts like building school drainage systems and participating in conflict resolutions.


In any given community, there are groups and individuals of diverse characters. Each group wants to be acknowledged and accorded the due respect to avoid conflict, which may be detrimental to the operations of the organisation. It is therefore necessary to study and know the dynamics of the community and deal with it through, possibly, the opinion/influential leaders, social critics/opposition popularly known as vocal agitators and the on-lookers who may not be concerned.



Communication tools have become more sophisticated, delicate, technical, but also with simplified and easier applications. Information technology is at present the inevitable instrument for reaching out, and for performing other functions and innovations. Over the last century, the global community has witnessed commendable technological feats, which include energy technology genetic engineering and material technology. But the most outstanding is the Information Technology (IT) which all the aforementioned rely on heavily.


The application of IT in mass communication by companies is popularly referred to as online investors relations, which is the provision of latest and appropriate financial information to investors, diverse potential clients and business associates. The importance of information technology in public relations cannot be overemphasised when viewed from its efficiency and effectiveness in reaching out. 


Some of the notable advantages of information technology in public relations include accessibility to global information in seconds (e-mail, internet, telecomputer), and participating in discourses with others from anywhere (teleconferences). It makes easy information dissemination and accessibility through e-mail/fax/satellite phones and easier the task of publication of newsletters, magazines, formatting, editing, printing, etc. The IT comprises all its supplementary equipment, which include the computer, printers, scanners and relevant software. For a frequently mobile officer, a laptop is also recommended.


Apart from the conventional use of the computer, with the emergence of the Internet, which is one of the most advanced technologies in the new millennium, the public relations officer must take interest in the advantage it offers and use it to the fullest. Almost everything, from small business to large conglomerates, trading, banking, engineering and numerous others, are being simplified through the Internet.


The revolutionary superhighway, is an electronic system that enables communication between linked computer networks through its agents popularly known as Internet Service Providers (IPS).


The benefit of hooking to the Internet by the PRO includes monitoring news and trends in the competitive environment. It also encourages investors’ relations by reaching the shareholders and financial communities through their e-mail lists and adverts which can also be placed. In addition, it eases the task of researching in general human knowledge.


Some unique features of the Internet include the speed and efficiency by which information is conveyed and received by the connected computers. For instance, a press release can be distributed to various media houses within a twinkle of an eye through their e-mail lists and are instantly delivered.


All it takes is the affordable cost of local calls, instead of wasting man-hours by running around or the use of courier services, in getting the messages across. In fact, it is cost effective and minimises wastages of man-hours, which can be used for other fruitful endeavours. In addition to this, the message can be conveyed in any form. Affordable accessories like pictures and audio-visual materials can also be transmitted live from the system, even while communicating.


Organisations in the new millennium, establish Internet web sites that are easily accessible with simplified usages for net visitors. Pages are created to display news release, annual statement of accounts, in-house publications, new products, vacancies and profiles of top management staff. Enquiry sections are also available for visitors to the sites to seek further information and pass some comments where necessary. In fact, the Internet is the most meaningful avenue for passing essential information to the business-minded publics.