Perception of Public Relations Professionals on Public Relations Strategies That Can Be Used to Rebrand the Nigeria Police Force
1.1 Background of the Study
According to Gruning (2006), various researchers in the area of public relations, it is a systematized effort in order to build the corporate image and reputation of a business in social context. Globally, The worth of public relations in any organization cannot be overlooked. This is largely dependent on the fact that the public relations unit of any organization is crucial factor deciding the success of any organization by developing and fostering its corporate image. If one start to study and investigate the earlier market conditions in Indian context, then it will not be doubtful to say that it was a seller oriented market and there was not such a stiff competition and strict policies of government but due to dynamic and complex nature business environment and government policy of globalization and liberalization, the competition suddenly increased in domestic market and its creates a threat of successful survival and sustaining competitive strength. But even in such a stiff and challenging competition, the success and organizational growth is possible through better public relations. Many studies have indicated the existence of public relations in every company and institution, irrespective of its requirement Argenti (2007).
According to Edward Bernays (2013), one of the pioneers of PR, 1The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or integrating people with people.” Scott Cutlip said historic events have been defined as PR retrospectively, “a decision with which many may quarrel.”
Public relations are the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. The aim of public relations by an organization often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions (Robert, 2003).
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According to the MTN Company (2021), The importance of public relations to the organization cannot be overemphasized. This is largely buttressed by the fact that the public relations unit of an organization is an important factor which aids in the success of any organization through building and sustaining its corporate image. In many government, Parastatals and private organizations whether seeking profit or not in their operations, public relations practitioners and public relations practice play a very important role. As Rensburg and Cant (2003 :34) indicate, public relations exist in every company and institution, irrespective of whether or not the company or institution wants it. Within an organization, activities such as phone calls, newsletters, public letters including its everyday encounter with its public, to name only few, form a perception and an image in its public’s minds about the organization. Various images come into the public minds based on how the organization has identified itself to the public. Bowen (2002).
According to Lukusa (2009) if an organization’s portrayed identity does not coincide with the image perceived by its public, the organization’s reputation and corporate image might suffer and as a result this might also affect the management of the entire organization. The roles of public relations practitioners are thus very important and crucial in building the corporate image of their organizations to the public. These roles contribute to the development, the sustainability and a good functioning of the organizations. Public relations practitioners’ roles also contribute to identifying, establishing and extending the organization’s sphere of influence. The practitioner’s roles help in monitoring, controlling and establishing its corporate identity and corporate image. The image making functions of public relations are principally counseling based on the understanding of human behavior. By analyzing trends and predicting their consequences, through research of public opinion, attitudes and advising a necessary action, public relations establishes and maintains two-way communication based on truth and full information. This is to say that public relations is concerned with maintaining public image for high profile organizations, programs, or individuals (Seitel, 1998:6).Building the corporate image of an organization is not an easy task that can be achieved in a day within an organization by a public relations practitioner. Some industries, financial services, chemicals factories, etc. suffer from a serious (corporate) image problem. In the eyes of many, they are seen as exploiters, inefficient, having fat-cat bosses, etc. Varey (2002: 193).
The Nigeria police is arguably the most visible agent of government and citizens often assess the character of a government through its police force. This is because the police are the “guardians” of society (Akanbi, 2004). To a large extent, the growth, actions and behaviours of the police as an institution, not only reflect the political and economic character of society, but also mirror what those in power are willing or able to tolerate or condone or perhaps even demand of the police (Charles, 2005). Thus any adequate analysis of the problems and challenges of the Nigeria Police must start with the appreciation of the history and dynamics of its development, which from its infancy in 1861 was characterised and cultured in impunity, incivility, brutality, a lack of transparency and accountability all of which eventually metamorphosed into large scale corruption. This however is not a presentation on the development or growth of the Nigeria Police no matter how relevant it is to the present regrettable situation.
There is no reason to believe that police officers as individuals are necessarily of a stronger moral fibre by upbringing or training than any other member of society. However, when a police officer is found wanting, or worst still violates the law, the outrage expressed by society is at its highest. This is simply because the deviance of a police officer “betrays” the confidence and trust of society and worst still, taints the entire organization (Akanbi, 2004).
The challenges of Nigeria police are many. Besides poor remuneration, living in a squalor, the presence of a policeman scares a Nigerian rather than gives confidence. About four out of every ten Nigerian will always have a bitter story or a bad experience to share about the police (Becker, 2006). Many slang terms, often considered derogatory or offensive, exist for police officers. These terms are rarely used by the police themselves and instead are used by criminals, prisoners, or by the general public Ask the bus driver, taxi driver, traders, and shopkeepers who are accosted on a daily basis by armed police officers who demand bribes and commit human rights abuses against them as a means of extorting money.
A typical Nigerian would rather not have anything to do with the police. Some call them all kinds of names and would avoid them like a plague. Right or wrong, the police should be worried if the public has no confidence in them. Reports abound of high-level police officials who embezzle staggering sums of public funds meant to cover basic police operations (Hagher, 2002). Extortion, embezzlement, and other corrupt practices by Nigeria’s police undermine the fundamental human rights of Nigerians. The police are alleged to frequently extort money from the public at taxi stands, in marketplaces, or from people going about their daily lives.
The police stations are extortion camps. Even victims of robbery or other types of crime pay “homage” before their cases are handled. Popular for its check-point activities, most extortions occur at police roadblocks, ostensibly put in place to combat crime (Becker, 2006). These checkpoints are a lucrative venture for the police who routinely demand bribes from drivers and passengers alike. On many occasions, the check-points were abolished but several illegal check-points abound. Some officers would say theirs are not check-points but ‘stop and search’. No matter what it is called, the stop and search or the checkpoint is like a two-edged sword. Tail, the officer wins, head the ordinary citizen loses.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations is the idea of creating coverage for clients for free, rather than marketing or advertising. Bowen & Heath (2006) Corporate identity is the symbols (such as logos, colour scheme) that an organisation uses to identify itself to people. Since corporate image is sometimes deemed as the organisation reputation, therefore, reputation is considered by a growing number of management practitioners and scholars to be an intangible asset that enables the enactment of relationships among the corporation and their public.
The presence of a policeman scares a Nigerian rather than gives confidence. About four out of every ten Nigerian will always have a bitter story or a bad experience to share about the police. Many slang terms, often considered derogatory or offensive, exist for police officers. These terms are rarely used by the police themselves and instead are used by criminals, prisoners, or by the general public Ask the bus driver, taxi driver, traders, and shopkeepers who are accosted on a daily basis by armed police officers who demand bribes and commit human rights abuses against them as a means of extorting money. The problem necessitating this study is therefore what is the role of public relations in rebranding the Nigeria police force.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine the perception of public relations professionals on public relations strategies that can be used to rebrand the Nigeria police force. The specific objectives of the study are:
- To examine the image of the Nigeria police in the minds of Nigeria.
- To ascertain the negative images of Nigeria police force.
iii. To examine the public relations strategies of rebranding the Nigeria Police Force.
- To examine the challenges of using public relations strategies in rebranding the Nigeria police force.
- To determine the benefits of rebranding the Nigeria Police Force using public relation strategies.
1.4 Research Question
- What image does the Nigeria Police portrays in the minds of Nigerians?
- To what extent do you think the Nigeria police have a negative image?
iii.To what extent can the pre-strategies be used in rebranding the Nigerian Police force?
- What are the challenges of using public relations strategies in rebranding the Nigeria police force?
- What are the benefit of rebranding the Nigeria Police Force using Public Relation Strategies?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research will conceive in full realization of the various interests it would serve. The corporate institutions and public relations practitioners would likely be activated by the findings to invest their utmost creative abilities in marketing communication- commensurate with current image building challenges facing their esteemed profession.
It is the hope of the researcher that this study will go a long way in helping the Federal Government of Nigeria in acknowledging the significance of public relation in rebranding the police force.
The study is also intended to assist future Public Relations practitioners in this field in knowing the level of impact they can make on their publics, particularly, their internal publics so as to achieve its aims.
This project will serve as a references material to study in similar field of study, most especially the student of mass communication.
Finally, it will go a long way to clear the misconception that some parts of the internal publics have about the PR department and bring it to the limelight for ease of access.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The main focus of this study is to assess the effectiveness of public relation strategies in re-branding the Nigeria police force a study of Lagos State Police Headquarter, Lagos.
1.7 Operational Definition of Key Terms
Publics: Publics are specific groups of people who are linked by common interest or problem Heath.
Public Relations: Is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.
Corporate Image: Is the set of meanings by which a corporation is known that can be used by the observer to describe, remember and relate to it via the interaction of beliefs, feelings, perceptions, and impression.
Organization: This is a group with special purpose of coming together as one to operate a business ventures. It could be government or private owned.