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1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Before now, politicians were contended with publicity, i.e getting their views reported in the press with their photographs. This illustrates the narrow path which politicians follow before the emergence of modern public relations practice. The modern public relations practitioners complying with the new trends of packaging for political advantages have come up with a deliberate and sustained effort aimed at establishing goodwill and mutual understanding between persons, organizations, groups, communities and their publics.
Politics in its dictionary definition is simply the science or art of government (Hornby, 1974). This art/science is often carried out by political parties who have to compete among themselves to be elected by the people in a particular society. The electors are commonly referred to as the electorate. In order to be elected, political parties have to engage in campaigning activities.
In Baines et al (2003)’s views, political parties are becoming more organized in their campaigning activity. In fact, in the UK, the major political parties are starting to embrace the public relations and marketing concepts
and processes. As to whether this is the case here in Nigeria and South East in particular is a fact to be researched into.
Political parties are faced with managing several challenges in trying to ensure that their candidates win election successfully. These challenges include but not limited to finance, crisis management, media relations, information management, corporate image and reputation management, attitude and opinion management, event management, protocol functions, community relations, employee relations, corporate advertising, audio-visual productions, public enlightenment, corporate identity management, issues management, government relations, competitors relations and corporate social responsibility (Nwosu, et al 2005:17).
The history of elections in Nigeria is eventful. Right from 1959 general elections campaigns and elections haven been replete with chaos and vindictiveness (Igweobi 2006:1). The issue of elections in Nigeria (Moha in Igweobi 2006:1), “is the case of preparation to face not only challenges of convincing voters but also how to stay alive and see the results when announced”. He further observed, that killings and maimings are so much during elections and have so discouraged many genuine people from venturing into politics.
In planning full course of action for a politician to gain political advantage among the electorate and political opinion leaders, efforts should
be made to tackle the challenges mentioned above using public relations strategies, policies, tools, etc. According to Okudero (2009:151), public relations, in essence, provide an articulate, credible and effective voice in pleading an idea on behalf of an individual or organization before the seat of public opinion in the hope that the projected idea will become acceptable”. To buttress this standpoint, Ayankojo in (Okudero 2009:151) opines: Nothing can succeed without public Relations, be it a product, object, service, personality, place, organization or idea. Without public relations, none of them can enjoy accept ability.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The target, aims and objectives of every political party is to excel or have victory at the poll. And in a bid, to achieve this feat, public relations tools and strategies must be employed by political parties in the area of ensuring, maintaining and sustaining mutual respect, mutual recognition, mutual understanding, mutual relation and building goodwill between a political party and her various publics. Therefore, political parties face the following problems in their campaign programmes.
Campaign research; campaign planning, budgeting, fundraising, rally, advertising, identity management, media relations, image and reputation management etc; campaign implementation and campaign evaluation.
1.3 PURPOSE OF STUDY
The study is aimed at investigating the impact of public relations in Nigerian political parties’ campaign programme.
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Essentially as captured in the above problem statements, the main objectives of this research work are as follows:
1. To evaluate the need for an effective public relations in political parties’ campaign programme.
2. To identify the various public relations strategies used during political campaign.
3. To determine the extent to which political parties and politicians use public relations as a tool for winning voters’ support.
4. To find out the implications of not employing public relations strategies in political parties’ campaign.
5. To proffer some recommendations in line with our findings.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions will guide this study.
1. What is the need for effective public relations during political campaign?
2. What are the public relations strategies used by parties and politicians during electioneering or political campaign?
3. To what extent do political parties use public relations so as to win voters’ patronage?
4. To what extent are political parties negatively affected for not using public relations strategies during electioneering campaign?
5. What are the recommendations in line with the findings?
1.6 FORMULATION OF HYPOTHESES
The following hypotheses are postulated for this study:
H0: The essence of public relations in political parties’ campaign is not to project the image of candidates to win election.
Hi: The essence of public relations in political parties’ campaign is to project the image of candidates to win election.
H0: Public relations strategies are not very effective during electioneering campaign.
H2: Pubic relations strategies are very effective during electioneering campaign.
H0: Public relations is not adequately used in soliciting the support of voters.
H3: Public relations is adequately used in soliciting the support of voters.
H0: Public relations is not aimed at achieving mutual understanding and goodwill in political parties’ campaign programme between parties and her various publics.
H4: Public relations is aimed at achieving mutual understanding and goodwill in political parties’ campaign programme between parties and her various publics.
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research derives its significance from its usefulness to political parties, politicians, electorates and the academics.
Political parties will in this study see the need for identifying, formulating, selecting, implementing and evaluating the campaign programmes that will result in electoral victory.
This study will expose political parties to the public relations strategies, tools, and tactics that can be employed to establish and sustain mutual understanding among the various publics.
Equally, this study will also make a politician stand out in the crowd of other contestants and overcome the problems of image and reputation management.
The electorate will also find this study useful especially in the area of corporate social responsibility of the political parties. The electorate will be better informed, educated, sensitized, mobilized, and entertained.
Finally, to the academic work, this study will serve as a reference material for those carrying out related studies in the future. It will properly engender greater interest towards improving on existing research.
1.8 Scope of the Study
The study will cover the impact of public relation in political parties’ campaign in the five south-Eastern states of Nigeria, namely; Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.
1.9 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The researcher met with the following physical and logistical limitations in addition to limitations imposed by cost and time.
The researcher was denied access to files and documents, which could have helped with a more quality and reliable work.
Also, the researcher found it difficult locating the offices of the 63 registered Nigerian political
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