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Public relations is the task of goodwill creation directed in building harmony between an organization and its environment through mutual understanding based on truth and full information. “It is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public, (Anyafo, 1999). Public relations is aimed at winning the co-operations, it has to evolve and implement programmes of action which will serve both the public interest and the organizational interest.
Accordingly, the function of public relations is directed towards developing and encouraging attitudes and behaviour, which will nurture the seeds of mutual understanding and assist their strong and healthy growth. Haywood (1984) and Nwosu (1996), share the view that public relations encourages pursuance of positive steps to achieve good will, that is, implementation of strategies that could ensure a cordial business and social rapport with the various public relations encourages the building of
corporate reputation. PR advocates elimination of practice which through legitimate, may offend public opinion or jeopardize mutual understanding.
Thornton (1964) asserts that a concern for public relations is a prerequisite of optimum growth in banking as in any other business. Specially, according to Anyafor (1999) the general role of PR in a bank may be summarized as follows:-
a) To project a good image for the bank.
b) To promote the service/products of the bank
c) To establish mutual understanding between the bank and its present and prospective customer.
d) To identify and execute activities/projects that would, in general enhance the banks good corporate citizenship.
e) To serve as an instrument of a two way communication channel between the bank and the relevant publci such that issues of public interest that impinge on the bank’s operations are fully monitored.
f) To furnish the bank with information of government expectations/regulations in a timely and/or anticipatory basis.
g) To predict and analyze public opinion trends and hence advise management from time to time on their implications.
h) To identify and implement strategies that would enable the bank to sociaize with the immediate host community and
i) Implement planned programmes of actions which will service both the bank and the public interests.
The above roles may collectively be referred to as Financial Public Relations activities (FPR). As a specialized arm of public relations management, FRP has the functional responsibility of communication with that public whose policies and activities affect the financial, industrial and commercial direction of business (Monu, 1987:14).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
All scientific research is necessitated by perceived problem. As such, the desire and quest to set out and research on the topic “public relations and the banking industry in Nigeria”.
It is a common knowledge that Nigerian banking system has, over the years been experiencing a crisis of confidence, a situation in which customers doubt the integrity of t he banking
system in delivering the financial intermediation services. Under such circumstances, has a public relations play any role towards the restoration of mutual confidence between the operators in the financial system and the relevant publics?
Loss of confidence in banking and financial system is a major consequence of bank distress. Once this occurs, it leads to deposit runs, that is, withdraw of deposit from the distress banks (Anyafor, 1999). Loss of confidence raises real interest rates as depositors ask for higher rate of interest rates for their loans. Banks distress or failure, leads to loss of jobs with adverse consequences for reduced demands and decline in the economic production level. Apart from the loss of confidence in the minds of depositors and potential depositor, another observable trend is that the practices of public relations by banks are not adequate to enahce their image and performance. Public relations has too often been treated with levity and handled in myopic fashion by many
Banks management to the detriments of their organizations. Some of the problems which led to the above remarks include:-
i) Some banks do not practice public relations and those that practice it hardly practice it well. This had affected their level of performance, level of social responsibility, level of commitment to the relevant publics and so on.
ii) There is an unfortunate tendency for the value of good public relations to be underestimated mainly because public relations is an intangible asset. This conception about public relations has really made banks with such conception to lose the patronage of their depositors and investors . without the support of the intangible assets, the tangible assets e.g. depositors and investors can not be restrained.
iii) While public relations department of some banks would be struggling to foster the good image of the banks, bank clerks and some members of its staff might be busy
creating bad impression about the banks by way of poor manner of approaches, bad dispositions, rude statements, cheerless faces, carefree attitude etc. infact, ineffective
customer services delivery and this situation has really scared some customers away to patronize other banks that can provide excellence customer services delivery to the satisfaction of these customers.
iv) The methods and channels of communication affect the general perception of public relations in banks. The inconsistence and improper way of communicating by banks to their various customers i.e. in the areas of keeping customers in the lime light of latest development through newsletters, bulletin and well organized forum
e.t.c. has created bias and lack of confidence in the customers (both current and prospective customer).
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