Getting Started, The PR Unit
Public Relations functions;
Corporate Advertising, Lobbying
Spokesperson, Corporate Gifts
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.
public relations activities revolve around the use of printed words, spoken
words and images for effective communication as explained below:
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.
words are relevant during the
participation of the organisation at seminars, workshops, tours, launching,
exhibitions, trade fair, visits, courtesy calls, display and condolence visits.
refer to the vision from electronic media, video, films, Information Technology,
computers, satellite, amongst others.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
role of organisation has to do with media events like press briefing/conference,
media interview, seminars/workshop, exhibitions and for the purpose of public
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PR method of maintaining credibility and creating continuous awareness of the
activities of an organisation is through the following:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,
media relations, sponsorship relations and diplomatic or international
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
good planning, which is mentioned elsewhere in this book, the organisation
should be able to realise its goals through the following:
which is a prerequisite to determining whether or not there is the need for the
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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
events. An event can also be jointly sponsored with other bodies. The
contribution of each partner must be well known to the other.
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.
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.
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
to conform to the stated financial standards and to protect the investing public
from unscrupulous financial transactions.
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
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.
of the advantages of this can be summarised as detailed below:
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
(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
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:
are some basic concepts and settings for arranging the Annual General Meeting.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
is believed that public relations staff have sound editorial judgements for
producing corporate publications.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
revolutionary superhighway, is an electronic system that enables communication
between linked computer networks through its agents popularly known as Internet
Service Providers (IPS).
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.
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.
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
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.