The Role of Public Relations in Community Banking

The Role of Public Relations in Community Banking

This chapter review literature relating to the “ Roles of Public Relation in Community Banking” and how Public relations help in enhancing customers satisfaction in Community banks.

The following are important in reviewing the related literature:

  • WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATION

A better understanding of what public relations is well surface when we examine the many definitions as presented by communication scholars and researchers.

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One of the definitions is the one by Professor Sam Black, a respected communications expert. He defined Public relations as “ the art and science of achieving harmony with the environment through mutual”, (Sam Black 1990)

This definition agreed with of Dr Rex Harlow (1976). In his view, public relation is “ a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and cooperation, between an organization and its public involves the management of problems or issues; helps management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinion, defines and implosives the responsibility of management to serve public interest; help management keep abreast of and effectively utilize change; serving as an early warning system to help anticipate trends, and uses research and sound ethical communication techniques and its principal tools”.

Still from the angle of an organization and its publics, Grunih and Hunt (1984) defined public relations activity as “as the management of communication between an organization and its public.”

Many professional associations have equally put forward some definitions. The British institute of public relations defined public relation as a deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and it public.’’

John W. Hill defines public relation as ‘the management function which gives the same organized and careful attention to the asset of goodwill as is given to any other major aspect of business’.

World Book Dictionary (vol.2) defined public relation as ‘the activities of an organization, institution, or individual that are designed to win the favour of the     general public and promote a better understanding of policies and purpose, especially by giving out information through the newspapers, magazines, radio, television and motion pictures’.

Cutting ,center and Broom (1994) defined public relations as “the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance”.

Public Relations News defined public relations as “ a  management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedure of an individual organization with the public interest and plans and executes programmers of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”

 

From all the above definitions, we can say that public relations practice involves:

– Anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes, future trends and issues which might be relevant to any section of the corporate organization.

-counseling management in all the departments within the organization or institution.

– Establishing and maintaining two-way communication between the organization and its various public in order to win co-operation.

Anybody going to patronize the services rendered by community banks must have been influenced by some certain factors, and these factors constitute immensely to the favorable opinion which the individual held about the bank.

  • CORPORATE IMAGE

According to Richard Stanley, “image is the totality of impressions people have about a company, an individual, an organization or a country …..  the personality of an organization or institution as perceived by its various publics”. This personality is formed not necessary on the objective evidence but by impressions reviewed and subjective evaluations made by the various corporate publics.

Corporate image therefore, is “the frue  image of an organization. It represents the overall impressions held by people about an organization contingent upon its reputation, corporate social responsibility, its character, staff strength, personality, amount invested, amount expanded on advertising, its policies, history, community relations drive, employee relations policy e.t.c (Akande F.A. 1999).

To enjoy the understanding, support, cooperation, rapport, goodwill and good opinion of target publics, corporate bodies and community Banks in this contact must use public relations to achieve a good image.

In this respect, whatever the public perceives of the Bank is what really makes its corporate image. A bank should through  public Relations practice plan to establish high estimations of its corporate image to its public. This could be communicated through bank services, employees, and activities carried out.

  • IN HOUSE PUBLIC RELATIONS

Community Banks may wish to set –up a full public relations department with trained personnel to handle research and various functions of public relations. The staff in the department will be responsible to the public relations manager. The public relations manager is placed at the same managerial position with other managers and is directly responsible to either the general manager or the chief executive as the case may be.

 The following reason account for the necessity for considering in –house public relations in community banks:

(a) It is however cheaper since the public relations staff are part of the organizations employees and are pand salaries like other employees.

(b) The staff of the public relations department are familiar with the internal operations and problems of the organization.

(c ) The  above being the case, in –house public relations influences the policies of the organization better than outside consultancy.

  • PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICE AT NNEBUIFE COMMUNITY BANK (NIG) LTD. ENUGU

At the Nnebuife Community Bank, Public relations is carried out as a management function, and the officer in chage is the General Services Officer (GSO). Since the Management is the overall head of the Bank, he also is connected with the public relations practices of the Bank.

The General Services Officer is responsible for co-ordinating all the activities geared towards establishing and maintaining cordial relationship between the Bank and its numerous customers and employees. He reports back to the management on any event which will help to foster good image of the Bank, gain and retain the interest of the general public towards the Bank.

The major objectives of the public relations department include the following :-

  • To ensure proper information flow.
  • To maintain credibility of
  • To project the Bank’s image positively to the various publics of the Bank.
  • To keep shareholders abreast on the profitability and future prospects of the Bank e.t.c.

In the year  ended 31st  December, 1999, Nnebuife Community Bank held its fruit Annual General Meeting (AGM) in which all the shareholders and customers were invited, and a Divided of N302, 200.00 at N1.00 per share was dedared.

Subsequently, the Bank organized a “ customers forum” which accorded the Banks customers the opportunity of knowing the financial status / position of the Bank.

The Bank also issue some educational aid facilities to her “Student Customers” as an incentive for patronizing the Bank. Some of their other customers are not their interest in mind .

The Bank equally carry its community along as they grant them credit facilities at an affordable rate of interest.

All these and lots more are some of the public relations practices embarked upon by the Bank to foster mutual understanding and relationship between the Bank and its publics.

The Public Relations Officer or the General Services Officer as the case may be dose his work efficiently and effectively through the assistance of the management and the hard-working staff of the Bank.

The implication of the literature Review of this study is to give the Research a general understanding of what public relations is all about and also how it can be practiced in Community Bank and other Banking Industries to enhance Customers’ Satisfaction.

  • PUBLIC RELATIONS ENVIRONMENT IN NIGERIA

The practices of public relations in Nigeria are carried out in various types of environment. For efficient and profitable performances in this specialist field, public relations personnel must monitor developments in the political, economic, social and legal spheres; analyze these developments and ovulate their possible impacts on organizational performance.

  • POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

The political environment of public relations consists of the government, government agencies charged with enforcing regulations and policies and political institutions such as parties, the legislature and the presidency.

The actions of these bodies to which public relations has an obligation of obedience, cooperation and compliance are laws, policies, regulations, protocol, export, immigration and company quota directives. Public relations also has an obligation for communication, liaison and sensitivity to these bodies.

  • ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT

The component parts of the economic environment for public relations will generally include:

  • Government Financial agencies,
  • National Securities and Exchange Commission,
  • Stock exchange,
  • Banks and non-banks Financial institutions
  • The economic media and investment Community e.tc

With all these bodies which constitute the ecnonmic environment, public relations, has a responsibility of communication, liaison and sensitivity. In the same vein, public relations also has a duty of obedience, compliance and cooperation with the actions of such bodies.

  • SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

The constituents of the social environment of public relations are culture, social as level of technological advancement and the problems and aspirations of the society.

Culture, according to sociologists is the totality of a people way of life encompassing, among other, their political structures, folklore, history, ethical standards, social, eating and dressing habits and belief system.

The level of development of technology in a social as part of the social has mastered the rudiments of nature to make like easier and worthier to live. This aspect determines the standard of living of the inhabitant of that social, the quality of their education, health, leisure, travel, communication, food sufficiency and other.

  • LEGAL ENVIRONMENT

The practice of public relation involves communication especially through the mass media. Therefore, practitioner has to be aware of the law which regular public communication. Aspects of communication law which apply to the profession of public relations are those concerning:

-Deposit of publication, with libraries especially the National library,

– Comment on matters that are subjudice, sedition,

-Defamation and

-Obscene and indecent publication, cinematography, copyright and official secrets.

  • SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Any organsation or institution, according to Melvin ashen, is dependent upon the environment for many thing and these include a charter to operate, personnel, fund for operating expenses and growth, free from under regulations etc. (cutlip and center, 1978.p.96). from the foregoing,  one can say that business does not function by divine right, but like any other part of society, exists with the sanction of the community as a whole. The interest of the community are, in turn, expressed through government regulations and a times through unexpected demonstrations and other actions by the community neighbors.

When an organization does not provide amenities for the people, the community fees such as organization as an intruder and enemy and fires to sabotage it .on the needs of the community, it will endear it self to the people who now make it a point of duty to protects the company’s installations and also patronize the company.   This is line with the saying that “no one bites the finger that feeds him”.

Being socially responsible from this perspective means that as a public relations person, one should urge the management of his or her organization to consider the public interest or the advantages the public will derive or the benefits that will accrue to the public in whatever policies the management engages in .

A summary of social responsibility from the banyan’s  schools of thought may be that “he who eats alone, lives in danger and will surely die miserably in the long or short run. Therefore organizations are cautioned to show that they care by providing necessary amenities, services and infrastructures.

Conclusively, a socially responsible organization from all intents and purposes is the one that strikes a balance between the urge to make profit and the desire to take care of the environment .this is what is called “profit- motivated social responsibility”.

This simply means trying to take care of the environment with the ulterior motive of creating the needed enabling environment for you to operate and makes profit for yourself and shareholders.

  • PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTITIONER

The public relation practitioner is a middleman between the organization and the public. He acts as both adviser and practitioner. As an adviser, he makes public recommendations to management. But as a practitioner, he does all the specialized works in public relations, which include recommending public relations programmers to management and carrying then out when they are approved.

For the public relations practitioner to be successful, he should possess two basic qualities ability to communicate and likeability.

 

  • ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE

The successful public relations practitioner must be a good communicator in the real sense of the wood. He should be competent in the four language skills of speaking, reading, writing and hastening. This ability will help him to facilitate the two-way communication that  responsible public relations demands.

  • LIKE ABILITY

It is difficult to mention all the factors that makes one to be attracted to another person. Some of the traits that can make one be attracted to other people include:

  • Possession of basic intelligence,
  • Possession of the necessary academic professional qualification,
  • He should be courageous.
  • Diplomacy and integrity,
  • He should be of good personality, and should have interest in other. E.t.c

The professional practitioner therefore, listens well, knows whom to listen to, remember specific instruction instruments corporate identify goods and objectives tangible to the enhancement of the company’s image.

  • PUBLIC RELATION MEDIA

An understanding of the media and their polices will help the public relation man in achieving his information dissemination goal. A good public relation practitioner must set out time to study the overall activities of the relevant media houses thoroughly in order to know their dos and don’ts. This will certainly help him achieve much will les effort.

Without a public relation practitioner acquainting himself with the media, the strong desire to create knowledge and understanding for smoother and healthier business transactions between an organization and it public/customers might be defeated.

There are essentially three categories of media through which the practitioner perform his communication function. In the mass media sector are the print media which consists of newspaper, magazine, professional and technical journals. The second is the broadcast media, which comprises of radio and television. The third category can be referred to as miscellaneous. This category includes the following, communication through personal contacts, spoken words, printed materials and exhibitions.

To achieve a good media relationship, the public relations practitioner must be reliable and trustworthy. He should also keep on consolidating his relationship with media but not necessarily inundating media houses with visit. Although occasional courtesy call are permissible.

  • BANK CUSTOMER RELATION

Customers constitute the life-line for community bank. They generate some of the capital that bank use frothier daily operation. In this regards, it is mandatory for every community bank to strive to maintain their customers’ confidence, by offering efficient and effective service.

Green Nwankwo, a public relations practitioner said that’’ bank-customer relation’’ means that bank should render their service conveniently and at minimum cost to their customers. This should address such aspects as convenient outlet and point of sale for tank services, prompt and speedy courteous attention and replies to customers’ queries. Their aspect are prompt and regular sending of bank statements, minimization of delays at bank counters, banks marketing strategy that identified and render the right service at the right place and the right price.

2.11 BANK SHAREHOLDERS RELATIONS

For continuous company growth, it is vita to develop, increase and sustain the interest of potential shareholders. Special programmes are specifically developed and targeted at potential shareholders to attract them to the company.

Potential shareholders must be kept in constant communication. Such communication can come from pre- annual general meeting, conference, annual general meeting proper, annual report booklet, personal letter and share certificate.

Request for financial and general information must be handled in a courteous manner.

2.12 BANK MASS- MEDIA RELATION

Banks should recognize and appreciate the importance of the mass media while designing their public relation programmes. Banks depend on the media to reach their desired audience.

It is the    duty of the public relations officers to interest with media houses and ensure that they are well informed of developments within their banks. They should equally collaborate with pressmen during press conference, media benefits etc.

2.13 BANK STAFF RELATIONS

The staff of banks is valuable assets to their bank because their performance or outputs determine the way the external publics or customers will perceive the bank’s image and behave towards the bank.

Bank’s public relations practitioners should aim to foster good relationship between the top management staff to the lowest staff in the bank’s employment.

The public relation officer or any other person as the case maybe should and build in the mind of every staff, a sense of belonging and the need to produce their best efforts; whenever they are at work. Effective communication tools, such as in-house journals, notice towards, memos, management and junior Staff Forum are also necessary avenue for building up the bank-staff relation.

Finally, employees are the ambassadors of an organization. Through much allegiance and loyalty are expected from them but that cannot do well in regulating their impression. Their over-all impression about their organization is contingent upon the knowledge and experience they acquired from the organization itself

 NIGERIA INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC RELATION

The Nigeria Institute Of Public Relation States that public relation, whether in banking or an other organization should perform the following function:

(a)     Counseling, based on the understanding of human behavior.

(b)     Projecting a corporate identity.

(c)      Establishing and maintaining a two-way communication process based on  truth and full information.

(d)     Research into public, attitudes and expectations.

(e)   Promoting goodwill with staff, shareholders and customers.

(f)   Supporting and marketing efforts of the bank.

(g)  Preventing conflicts and misunderstanding.

(h)  Promoting good financial and shareholders relation.

(i)   Promoting good employee relations.

(j)   Maximizing profitability.

It is the responsibility of the public relations officer to appreciate the enormity of the tasks before him since he is charged with the duty pf ensuring that the corporate image of his task is acceptable enough to keep them in business.

—-This article is not complete———–This article is not complete————

This article was extracted from a Project Research Work Topic:

“THE ROLE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN COMMUNITY BANKING

(A CASE STUDY OF NNEBUIFE COMMUNITY BANK NIGERIA LIMITED ENUGU).

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