*            Research


*            Budgeting


*            Planning


*            Regulating Financial


















In his book Precious Public Relations (1988), Eldon-Hiebert Ray aptly sums up the essence of research in Public relations practice thus: “Public Relations practitioners who ignore research will soon discover that they too are ignored”


Eldon-Hiebert’s observation could not be limited to the PR practitioners alone but all those that are responsible for addressing social changes and trends towards improving the performances of their organisations.


Keeping track of happenings is the fastest area of any given research. Social audit research, which is common in the financial sector for systematic and analytical examination of social performances as related to the organisation, is quite inevitable in providing solutions to a myriad of problems relating to financial public relations.


In fact, public relations research, as with other management researches, is at present defined by the uses to which research is put. The essence of the research is to study the publics’ knowledge and understanding, their opinions, attitudes, preference and motivating factors that influence their decisions.


According to Otto Lerbinger, a professor of economics and PR expert, studies have shown that the greatest current interest is in four areas: environment monitoring, public relations audit (public opinion), communication audit (media research) and social audit which all rely much on seeking public opinion on an organisation’s rating among its target publics


(a)            Environment Monitoring: Here, an organisation investigates the happenings in its surrounding environment, which could be the community in which it is based, or the country of its operation, to enable it knows the consequences of its actions. New trends in the society such as democracy and crime rate, may affect, directly or indirectly, its existence.


(b).       Public Opinion: Some analysts also call this Public Relations Audit. As the name implies, the PR office can seek to investigate and understand the public perception, attitudinal and behavioural patterns on the organisation. The research must attempt to answer basic questions such as those relating to how favourable its image is, ways of redeeming a bad image and the best ways of doing such.


(c).       Media Research: This is also referred to as Communication Audit, which is the mainstream of public relations research. This is where a study is conducted on the most appropriate style of reaching the public, the method, channels and the impact of the message as it is delivered. Such researches involve a lot of surveys on readership, media circulation, popular media events, content analyses of editorials and in-depth reports and advertising effectiveness, amongst others. When to use the media, which type of media, which page or time and date and the target readership, are research themes. If studied properly, it would be helpful in deciding how to reach the public and get the best results from the messages conveyed.


(d).       Social Audit: This is a study of social performance and effect of the organisation on its publics. Recommendations are made for a consultant or independent auditor to assess the impact of all the public relations activities and measure their relevance in meeting its target. Like financial firms where external auditors are required to examine the financial account, the PR functions too can be examined to measure up its performance by an independent body.


The emergence of financial public relations has provided the focus for a wide discourse on the role of financial institutions in imparting adequate knowledge to the public, not only in developed economies, but also in developing nations.


The starting point for the acceptance of financial public relations functions is the greater awareness that companies and other financial institutions have roles to play in reaching their publics and establishing, as well as retaining their confidence for reciprocal appreciation and beneficial relationship through a well-conducted research.

To avoid assumptions, guessing and trial-and-error approaches, which may damage the image of the organisation, the public relations research is employed to understand a particular problem with a view to proffering appropriate strategies to maintain and improve the reputation of the organisation in the society.


Financial institutions believe in quantified plans of action. Therefore, to receive management confidence and trust, the public relations unit must always present well-researched proposals laced with facts and justifiable reasons, which are needed for effective planning, execution and feedback. It must also propose, by research, budget and short-term, medium-term and long-term range plans, outlining aims/objectives and expected results. It will surely be suicidal if a programme is embarked upon without research. In fact, a research should be undertaken to determine the budgeting needs. This will entail identifying activities relating to corporate plans, outlining the objectives, the audience, message, timing and the cost.


Basically, issues in PR research using survey research technique, may include examining how the publics see and how the organisation wants to be seen, whether or not it is well understood through the appropriate channels; if it receives adequate and favourable mention by the media and what are those problems encountered by the publics; whether or not competitors fare better and what are the strength and weaknesses that can be worked on. Certain ways of doing things may also need to be maintained, improved upon or changed entirely.


Many have always talked about marketing research, which is the sampling of the market of products and services in a particular (given) environment. Public relations research however, may be distinct in many ways depend on the techniques and channels adopted. In fact, opinion research is synonymous with public relations practice. Even when marketing research fails to achieve better response from unwilling respondents to enquiries, PR can assist in such exercise by employing effective persuasive methods to achieve good results.


Basically, like an academic research in higher institutions, a comprehensive research in public relations may involve the basic stages which include identifying the problems, aims and objectives, reviewing the literature, definition of terms, designing questionnaires, data interpretation, suggestions, recommendations and conclusions. Other researchers may adopt lighter methods, which may include, but not limited to introduction, identified problems and recommendations/conclusions.


Many types of research in public relations are frequently mentioned, but the most recognised are the following:


(a).       Desk Research- As the name implies, it is a one-position research which is gathered from existing data conducted by others through surveys, interviews or reports. Permission of the authors of the original works must be sought before it is used. One advantage is that it is cheaper and quick to gather.


(b).       Ad-hoc Research- This involves going out to conduct the research when materials or documents are not available on the matter/issue.


(c).             Continuous Research- This is good for continued monitoring of the trends, behaviours and reactions of the public on particular products/programmes. This is done through the media and by seeking public opinion through administration of questionnaires.



Nothing goes for free, so also effective PR, does not come cheaply. Certainty of programmes and sellable ideas invariably ease the task of costing campaigns. An adequate budget is essential to achieving optimal results. The organisation must, therefore, benefit and get maximum returns from its spending. Whether the PR Unit is given a particular budget to work with or asked to submit a proposal, a reasonable, reliable and achievable cost should be made.


Once the objective of the programme, the audience, message, channels of communication and activities are identified, it is easier to make a realistic budget.


A realistic plan of action must be presented together with the cost of each activity. Unless a budget was once presented and succeeded, the need to maintain, increase or decrease it should be related to the financial position and projects of the organisation.


The major areas of costing in PR include prints and production, exhibition, workshops and seminars, media briefings and conferences, advertising, transportation, sponsorship, supplements and media coverage.


Most activities can have fixed costs of expenses, including taxes and services but a mandatory contingency not exceeding 15% of total cost must be added for any unexpected eventualities. This may be necessary because there is a clear distinction between direct cost and indirect cost. For instance, a hall booked for an hour for press briefing may extend to three or more hours, while an entertainment provision for the briefing of a number of journalists may witness additional attendance of some of them coming with their crews.


A good budgeting plan may address the problems, objective, public, strategy, media, message and anticipated result. There should also be a time frame for each budgeted activity.


But it must always be known that the budget estimate by an in-house PR departments must be slightly different from that of outside consultants’. This may be so, since in-house practitioners will not consider such expenses on salaries and equipment, which may be at their disposal.


Sometimes, some programmes are better handled by the in-house or consultation on the demand of the non-specific aspects of the programme. For instance, while a consultant may demand for a consultancy fee and hiring of equipment, the in-house may only request for cost of maintenance of such equipment where available.


It is expected that a well equipped in-house PR Unit must have such facilities as video, photo camera, public address system, TV and Video Machine for viewing and editing, computer, Tel/Fax, E-mail and other relevant tools. But the consultants may need to charge for the hiring or the use of such equipment, which may be additional burden to an ill-equipped PR department.


Consultancy fees vary from one firm to the other, depending on their reputation and size. Their charges could be based on hourly charges for executive time. Monthly or yearly retainership could be charged for a programme that runs for a year. Some specific programmes, which are done on an ad- hoc basis, also attract special fees based purely on the volume of work covered.  


Whether it is in-house or consultancy, an acceptable and accountable mechanism should be put in place to monitor cost-effectiveness of the programme which may allow adjustment for total success. An intelligent resource should be allocated by the management to implement the PR advice.


Consultancy Budget

The charges for consultancy services vary from one organisation to the other. But specifically for a long-time PR campaign, the considerations for the budget include advisory fees which are charged after the firm has accepted the service. The consultants charge the expenses to cover the days or hours of attending meetings, its research and the submission of the report.


Another area is the implementation of the plan. Some in-house staff may take up this stage unless if the consultant is given the responsibility of implementing the plan as it is recommended in the report submitted .


Operational costs for the real aspect of the programmes are stated and carried out. These may include the core PR activities such as issuance of press release, media tour, photography and the use of equipment (fax, telephone, IT and courier services)


Evaluation level is also important for the consultant to monitor the success of the programme. It carries out secretariat assignment by opening file for press clips and sending media review to the clients.


The budgets for all the activities above are measured on man-hours or daily activities basis. A typical annual budget is illustrated below.


            Press Release 3 x 12month x cost value

            Feature Articles 2 x 12month x cost value

            Press Briefing 2 x 4quaters x cost value

            Photo albums 2 x 4quaters x cost value

            Video Recording 2 x 4quarters x cost value

            In-house publication 1 x 4quarters x cost value

            Meetings 1x 12month x cost value

            Reports 1 x 4quarter x cost value

            Contingencies 10% of the total


The cost value may come in different forms. It may be the cost of single or combination of production cost, travel expenses, hotel accommodation, refreshments, man-hour and unit price of items and materials to be used. Some activities may be undertaken as often as required on a daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, biannually, or/and yearly basis. To convince the client in understanding the significant of the programme, technical jargons should be avoided. Where necessary to disclose some technicalities, it should be attached as appendixes and or annexures.


In-house Budget

The in-house PR practitioner submits annual budget which, after consideration, the fund involved is released quarterly or monthly to the office to carry out its activities. Some programmes which are periodical or exceptional and extraordinary are funded at the appropriate time. On the need, request may be made from the approved budget estimate to take care of events and programmes as they unfold.


The illustration below is a typical annual budget for a big organisation that has large audiences. The proposals are in two parts. The first part is the budget defence, while the second part is the breakdown of the request for consideration and approval.


Budget Defence


This is to cover the cost of production/publication of monthly bulletin, yearly handbook, quarterly magazine, seasonal cards and complimentary cards.


Corporate Items

This is required for the production/procurement of corporate items such as pocket diaries, executive diaries, calendars and address books. These items will be used as presents or gifts to individuals and organisations as a form of reciprocation for promoting the organisational statues, as well as seek goodwill from the recipients.


Media Activities

The amount is needed for extensive media campaign and image building. These are in the areas of media chat/courtesy calls, press conference hosting/entertainment, research, editing, publications of articles, video coverage editing & dubbing, photo coverage/album and entertainment for media reception. It will also include exhibitions and sponsorships.



The sum is required for the purchase of relevant equipment for the office such as photocopiers, cameras, consumables (video cassettes, films, albums, inks, etc.) and maintenance and services of media equipment. The essence is to enhance the output of the PR Unit.



The amount is to cover expenses for the placement of adverts on issues that concern the organisation in the print and electronic media, and to also cover the cost of documentaries and live events in the electronic media, including interviews, among others.


Editorial Board Meeting

The fund is for providing the entertainment, materials and incidental expenses for the meetings of the editorial board.


Information Technology

In its drive to show a high level of integrity and commitment to the public, the unit should introduce a timely and efficient way of information dissemination through modern and advance technology. To achieve this crucial goal, the development of a web site is imperative, where enquiries all over the world are promptly responded to, through special media technique of a super highway. All publications and activities will be displayed in the web site for the public to access. These will include press releases, feature articles and profiles of the management. It will also contain handbooks, magazines and pictures of activities in specified pages on the Internet.  The amount would therefore cover Web Site Development, E-mail Installation/Internet Connection, Web Hosting, Domain Name Registration, Internet Usage Training and Technical Support/maintenance.


Human Resources Management

The amount is needed to keep personnel in the Unit up-to-date in the field of Public Relations and Information Technology. The areas include Training in Financial Public Relations & Modern Media Techniques, Professional Seminars, Conferences &Workshops in media management and Annual Dues & Membership of Professional bodies, i.e., NIPR, NUJ, IPR, etc. 


Budget Breakdown


a. Monthly Bulletin                 Unit Cost x 100 copies x12month            =      

b. Quarterly Magazine        Unit Cost x 100copie x 4quaters         = =      

c. Hand book                       Unit Cost x 1000copies x 1year   =

d. Seasonal Cards               Unit Cost x 100copies x 4seasons =      

            Subtotal                                                                            =      


Corporate Items

a. Pocket Diary                    Unit Cost X 100copies x 1year =     

b. Executive Diary               Unit Cost X 100copies x 1year =     

c. Calendars                          Unit Cost X 100copies x 1year =  

d. Address Book                   Unit Cost X 100copies x 1year =  

            Subtotal                                                                                    =

Media Activities

a. Media Chats/Courtesy calls             Gen. Expenses X 12month        =

b. Press Conferences                        Gen. Expenses X 2annualy       =

c. Research/Publication of Articles    Gen. Expenses X 12month         =

d. Video Coverage(editing/dubbing)  Gen. Expenses X 12month         =

e. Photo Coverage Album /Media      Gen. Expenses X 12month         =

f. Entertainment/Media Reception     Gen. Expenses X 12month         =




a. Procurement of Media Equipment                 = 

b. Consumables (Cassettes, Films, Albums, Inks etc.)              = =

c. Maintenance & Services of Media Equipments =




a. Newspaper Adverts/supplements     Rate X Pages X 12month =

b. Electronic Media Commercial         Rate x Slot X12months      =  

            Subtotal                                                                               =  


Information Technology (IT)

a. Web Site Development               =

b.  Email Installation/Internet Connection              =

c.  Web Hosting           =

d.  Domain Name Registration           =

e.  Internet Usage Training                         =

f.  Technical Support/ Maintenance                    = 

               Subtotal            =


Human Resources Management

a  Advance Training in Financial Public Relations &

            Modern Media Techniques          = =

b.  Professional Seminars, Conferences &

     Workshops in media management          =                  =

c.       Annual Dues & Membership of

            Professional bodies, i.e., NIPR, NUJ, IPR etc.                   =                     

            Subtotal                                                                                   =         


Miscellaneous/ Incidental Expenses 10%  of the Total   =


            GRAND TOTAL             =



A successful media campaign programme, whether setting up the PR Unit or general activities, requires effective planning and implementation. It is the method of performance from the beginning to the end.


Most of the time, a fire brigade approach always fails at the end of the day. It is for this reason that before an organisation embarks on any action, enough time should be devoted to planning.


A research may be conducted with suggestions and recommendations on how things should be done, but that is only a statement, which requires adequate strategy of accomplishing it through planning. It shows how reasonable and relevant the programme is to the organisation. This is a better way of controlling budget and time.


Planning can come in many forms. It may be long-term, short-term or impromptu. Whichever it is, it requires enough skill, knowledge and ability to carry out the programmes successfully.


In public relations, some of the activities that require planning include the following:


(a.) Basic Media Routine: This is the way and manner the practitioner issues press releases, organises media interviews, press briefings, coordinates courtesy calls/visits and even how points and facts are composed for feature articles.


(b.) Events Planning: These are events geared towards attracting a large participation of target audiences. This planning is intended to outline the roles of groups or individuals at such events. It may include a product launch, trade fair or similar exhibitions, conferences, corporate donations, community relations and other related public functions like the meet-the-people/customers’ forum.


(c.) Futuristic Planning: Every organisation has a goal it sets out to achieve, and goals cannot be achieved in a short time, if it will take a long period. Therefore, for achievable, attainable and continuous objective, the organisation will require strategic planning to cater for every unforeseen and predictable circumstances within its environment. The moment a set goal is identified, then planning commences.





(a.) Manpower: The major ingredients of a good plan include utilising trained professionals to brainstorm, propose and execute the planned programme. This may be the public relations officer.


(b.) Goals: Since we work to accomplish a particular mission, a target must be known and set. It is the basis for existence as it enables the organisation assess the progress of the programme.


(c.) Timeliness: The duration it should take must be clear. This may not apply to strategic futuristic planning. A project meant, for example next month, ideally must be planned well ahead of the time. It forecloses the duration and man-hour to be employed.


(d.) Material: Some programmes are capital intensive and require vital equipment for their success. This is where budgeting comes in. It involves costing such tools like cameras, computers, printing, transportation and such other requirements.


Planning is one of the five steps that should be followed in devising any overall communication programme, observed Quentin J. Heitpas in his article “Planning” in Experts in Action: Inside Public Relations. He demonstrated that planning is the middle of the programming cycle which has fact-finding, followed by research, planning, communication and measurement. All the processes perform significant roles in executing any programme.


The basic principle to a good planning is the realisation that there is the need for communication, which must be done through pungent research work, so as to understand problems and their solutions. It is based on the findings and recommendations that a plan of action can be outlined on a step-by-step approach towards achieving results.

Through a realistic approach, Quentine has suggested nine stages that will assist in careful planning. The steps are demonstrated in a diagram called The Public Relations Model.  The model starts from Structure Overview and followed by Set Objective, Define Public, Select Media, Develop Message, Establish Strategy, Devise Timetable, Structure Measurement and Prepare Budget.


The above planning model can be easily explained by taking a case study of a bank that intends to go into the newly introduced Universal Banking, which was approved by the federal government. The management of the bank decides to organise a press conference to inform the public on its new move. The following may be undertaken based on the model:


Structure Overview: The Press Conference must be seen as the right and appropriate channel to reach the larger or specific publics.


Set Objective: It assumes that at the end of the conference, the public would be adequately informed of the benefits of the universal banking in their banking relationship.


Define Publics: The specific publics to be reached must have been identified. Notable publics in this regard include the existing and prospective customers of the bank, finance community, which includes corporate organisation and business leaders. Those are targets who will benefit from the new service offered by the bank and which the bank hopes to generate profit from their interaction.



Select Media: Even though all media are important as they satisfy their respective audiences, specific media may be selected based on their coverage, proximity, and their interest and editorial preference. Therefore, business magazines, financial dailies, professional journals on banking and related economic matters are ideal choices. Apart from regular dailies that devote about 65% of their reports to business like Thisday, National Interest, the elite business weeklies like Financial Standard, Business Time and others are irresistible for in-depth features on banks’ new services.


Develop Message: The bank must equip itself with the guidelines for the operation, and satisfy all the requirements of the apex bank and the legal authorities. The speech to be delivered and the message for adverts and commercials in the media must articulate the position of the bank and its ability to carry out the service. The essence is to win the public confidence and trust in the bank.


Establish Strategy: The conference may be held in a commercial or business capital where there are many potential customers. A city like Lagos where there is a large concentration of media houses, apart from being the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, may be ideal for timely and wider coverage. Other strategies that the bank may consider include radio jingles, supplements in the dailies and interviews with some selected media. Probable change of name to depict the new status of the bank, as it was the case when First City Merchant Bank changed its name to First City Monument Bank, is also necessary. If necessary, the logo of the bank may also be changed to make the public know that the bank is serious in its new endeavour.


Devise Timetable: All activities towards the success of the conference and the expected response should be timed to avoid clumsy and unnecessary obstruction. Invitations for media coverage should be dispatched some weeks before the day of the event with subsequent reminders through telephone calls and other appropriate channels. Press releases, jingles and adverts too should be timed accordingly. The programme may be held in the morning to enable some business editors who may research further, and photographers, enough time to process their pictures for the edition of their newspapers the following day. Organising the conference in the morning may also afford the electronic media enough time to edit the story for the day’s news.


Prepare Budget: All the activities above have financial implications either in fixed or variable cost. For full coverage with an expected favourable result, the cost of all steps of action must be carried out according to the need.



The growth of Investor relations (IR) in Public Relations reemphasises the mandatory adherence to statutory regulations governing financial communication by listed companies. Since financial performance appeals to the investing public, especially as it relates to annual statements of account, stock prices and other market determinants, corporate conglomerates are urged to abide by the rules of information dissemination that are intended to persuade investors to deposit their funds with them.


Andrew Hawkins, Director General of United kingdoms’ Investors Relations Society, in his article “Wising up to Global IR” in Frontline Quarterly, observes that it has certainly taken enough time for listed companies to realise just how important it is to look after their investors – afterall, good IR should enhance a company’s brand value and ultimately, make it cheaper to finance borrowing. He argued: “the changes in UK financial regulation will no doubt be the roles of the in-house IR practitioner being enhanced, as companies face a regulatory minefield supported by an enforcement regime eager to bare its teeth. It certainly concentrates the minds of a company’s board of directors to see the prospect of being sued for selective disclosure of sensitive financial information. So, good IR Officers will be able to put a premium on their service. And it is difficult to envisage the regulatory environment getting easier.”


A very distinct character of financial public relations is the rules and regulations guiding the participants in the financial environment on public disclosures and pronouncements. It is not a matter of just waking up and dishing out information anyhow. There are several laws in place on what, how, when and where sensitive financial statements should be made. In fact, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigerian Stock Exchange and National Insurance Commission have stipulated guidelines on the way and manner information should be made public. Even adverts sometimes are expected to pass through regulatory authorities. A company that flouts the law is adequately penalised.


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is empowered by the Investment and Securities Act (ISA) of 1999, which allows it to make general and specific rules governing securities exchanges, capital market operators, securities offered, mergers and acquisitions, collective investment schemes, investors’ protection fund and borrowing by the tiers and agencies of government. In the said Act, Section 85 and Rule 190 are specific on information dissemination and all forms of communication. They also state penalties on untrue statements of a material fact, which are otherwise false or misleading. The Commission’s rules and regulations provide all the participants in the capital market on their expectations in the system. It spells out the Code of Conduct and provides fairness and equality, among others.


According to the Head of Corporate Affairs of SEC, Mr. Iliasu Dhacko the act also deals with activities related with securities trading, ranging from market rigging, manipulation to issuance of false or misleading statements and fraudulently inducing trading through dissemination of illegal information or insider dealings. Various penalties including fines, suspensions and prosecution from the market are specified to serve as deterrent.


In the Banks and other Financial Institutions Decree No 40 of 1999, Section 40 precisely deals with the general restrictions on advertisements by banks. Any bank that proposes to issue any advertisement must deliver the text with the latest published accounts to the Central Bank of Nigeria for its consideration. Even though the word advertisement is used frequently in the decree instead of general publicity, it states that it includes any form of advertising, whether in publication or by the display of notice, circular, exhibitions of photographs, cinematography, sound broadcasting, and the likes. The contravention of the provision is an offence, which is liable to a fine or imprisonment or both.


As the Decree authorises the Central Bank of Nigeria to make laws for the banking industry, so also is the National Insurance Commission Decree of 1997 gives NAICOM the instruments to ensure effective administration, supervision, regulation and control of the insurance industry. The Commission also establishes standards for the conduct of insurance business in Nigeria. With the approval of the Minister of Finance, it makes regulations as to the forms and contents of insurance advertisements, which in the same Decree, has the feature and forms of advertising as stated in Decree No 40 of 1999. Apart from a Section on advertisements, it has another on ‘Misleading Statements’ which stipulates penalties for statements, promises and forecasts which may be false, deceptive, or dishonest concealment of material facts or by reckless making of any statement with the intention to induce another person to enter into or offer to enter into any contract of insurance with an insurance company.


The essence of the rules is to guide the investing public from deceitful and fraudulent information. Therefore, organisations need to take note of the following before any serious public disclosure of their financial positions is made:


a.   Central Bank of Nigeria Decree No 24 of 1991 as amended by Decree 41 of 1999;

b.   Banks and other Financial Institution Decree No 25 of 1991 & its amendment Decree no 40 of 1999;

c.      Investment and Security Act (ISA) No 45 1999;

d.   SEC Rules and Regulations Pursuant to the (ISA) act;

e.   Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (Decree No 22) 1988;  and

f.      National Insurance Commission Decree 1997.