Getting Started in PR Unit

Foreward by Prof. Jerry Gana
Preface by Senator J. M. Kuye
Financial Environment
Public Finance
Financial Institutions
Public Relations Concepts
Financial Public Relations
Marketing Concepts
Advertising and Integrated Communication
In-House and Consultancy
Target Publics
Research in PR
Budgeting in PR
Planning in PR
Regulating Financial Information
Getting Started and PR Unit
Basic Functions
Requirement for Media Event
Annual Events
Social Responsibility
Information Technology
Reputation Management
Crises Management
Media of FPR
Corporate Identification
Building Brand
Membership of Professional Bodies
Conduct and Ethical Standards
Appendix NIPR Code
Appendix II: IPR Code
Appendix III: PRSA Code
Appendix IV: IPRA Code
Contributions and Reviews



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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



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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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

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



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


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


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


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


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



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

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