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1.1 Background of Study
The views of the publics about an organization tell the level of acceptability of that organization to its numerous publics. This depends on the organizations communication strategy. In support of this view, Udeze (2005:1), assert that, “communication is the epicenter of human society... communication can lead to wars or end wars”.
It is unfortunate that, because we all engage in communication everyday, we tend to assume too much knowledge of it. In line with this, Benson-Eluwa (1998:1), writes that, because we take it for granted, we tend to make many unpardonable mistake that do not only affect our personal and professional image but also the image of our organizations
According to Dominick (2002:351) the earliest forms of image management can be linked to Bethmann Lee; a journalist in America who resigned to open a public relations consultant firm in 1903. His first major assignment was to reposition the image of the battered Anthracite coal firm in America. Today the practice has spread to the extent that many institutions/organizations and even individuals have seen the need to either reposition or sell their image to the society for a better perception or profit maximization.
Studies, over the years, have shown that corporate communication have been used by organizations in their quest to improve their corporate image. Supporting this statement Okafor (2006:119), argued that, every organization/institution has its own goal, some for profit while others are to render quality and satisfactory services to the public, in a bid to live up to their expectations, these organizations employ different strategies to reach the target audience, and one of such strategies is corporate communication. Corporate communication has been used to manage and build the image of most organization.
These corporate bodies need to be heard, and seen in a favourable light in order to be recognized, patronized and promoted to a greater height. According to Belch and Belch (2001:587), many corporations enhance their public images through involvement in the affairs of local communities. No one wants to be seen as being bad. So through the aid of its public relations and corporate communication firms engage in campaigns that makes them acceptable.
Goodman (2000:1), posit that, corporate communication refers to the totality of a corporations efforts to lead, motivate, persuade, inform its various publics, which include consumers, investors, employees, and the media. Goodman notes that corporate communication can include such traditional disciplines as: public relations, investor relations, employee relations, community relations, media relations, labour relations, government relations, technical communication, training and employee development, etc. He also stated that corporate communication is inherently strategic in nature and offers the corporation a vital tool with which to gain a competitive advantage.
Without corporate communication, the good deeds that a socially responsible institution does may pass unobserved and it is corporate communication that help captures the public’s attention when it is highlighted. The creation and maintenance of good image towards an organization is the desirable overall result of corporate communication activity, creating the climate which aids achievement of its corporate objectives. Okoro (1999:v) posits that:
The image making business is not a chance affair. And before you can make someone to feel and look good, you have to feel and look good yourself. You cannot give what you don’t have.
Okoro went further to state that, in the business of image management, it is said that image is not only everything, it is the only thing. And image is the result of (i) what we think (ii) what we say and (iii) what we do. (Okoro 1990:12).
Therefore, the greatest challenge facing many institutions today is how to create and maintain a favourable image/impression about itself in the minds of its publics. It is the desire of most organization to achieve a high level of positive publicity for their programmes and activities: but unfortunately, some ill-informed organizations erroneously believe that their corporate image can be built only on publicity.
Nweke (2001:219), argued that “no matter how good, beautiful, appealing or inviting a corporate identity may be, and even with rapid application of the force of communication, without genuine supportive good deeds, such an identity can hardly lead to the realization of the desired positive impression”. It is a true saying worthy of all acceptance that constant communication without attendant good performance is sheer vanity, empty rhetoric, doomed to make no appreciable impact. It is akin to faith without good work, which invariably is dead.
In the same vein, Igben (1997:20), posit that, “Good behaviour result in goodwill and acceptance. Good behaviour involves deeds that have in them the interest of both the organization and its publics”. By its composition, Igben (1997), further argued that, the greater disclosure of information, awareness and creation of understanding with the internal and the diverse publics will lead to the achievement of good image towards the organization and its activities. So when an organization’s good image becomes tangible, it succeeds in creating the vivid impression that its publics need in order to build trust.
Most institutions have come to realize that their behaviours and attitudes mainly determine the stakeholders actions and opinions. They have discovered the necessity to commit themselves to fairness, equity and to act in accordance with those commitments.
Riel and Fombrum (2007:1), defined corporate communication as the set of activities involved in managing and orchestrating all internal and external communication aimed at creating favourable starting points with stakeholders on which the company depends. They went ahead to state that corporate communication, consist of the dissemination of information by a variety of specialists and generalists in an organization.
Utomi (1990:245), writing on the essence of corporate communication, said that, it is about articulating the corporate essence of an enterprise and interpreting this essence in such a way that the environment is better accommodating of the short and long term objectives of the enterprise. To accomplish the mission of corporate communication, he noted that it requires the use of strategic planning and public relations.
Manohar (2011:1), opines that, corporate communication is an essential aspect of communication, which needs to be studied and put to use in all the organization for greater efficiency at work. He argues that corporate communication is communication within corporate organization (internal communication) as well as the communication between different corporate entities (external communication) and that corporate communication can make use of different types of mass media.
1. Internal corporate communication:- means the communication within a particular organization. Some commonly used tool as business meetings, conferences... corporate communication is used to make announcements, take decisions and in general share information, views and opinions within organization. This type creates a conducive work atmosphere, thus increasing the productivity of the organization.2. External corporate communication process includes communication of corporate organization with its current/potential investors, customers and other corporate entities. Its processes include elements like advertising, marketing and public relations (Manohar, 2001:1).
Offonry (1985:45), a past president of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations, (NIPR), suggests a long list of factors, which can be used to determine if any organization has a favourable image. These factors have been adapted to suit this research work. The factors are:
- The attitude of Officers and Men.
- The behaviour of FRSC drivers on the highway
- The behaivour of officers and Men on patrol and rescue operations
- The quality of services rendered by FRSC
- The nature of office building, environmental sanitation, equipment and fittings.
- The style of correspondence, quality of letter headed paper
- Attitude towards applicants, complaints and information seekers.
- The house style/corporate identity of the commission-the state of their uniform, the state of vehicles and all items that carry the commissions corporate colours.
- Compliance with government rules and regulation, fulfillment of civil obligations etc.
- Method of operation, role in the community and social responsibility services.
For a good corporate image to be achieved, advert manager and the public relations officers must work synergistically to design a programme that can manage and sell the corporate image of organizations. The Duo (the advert manager and public relations officer) cannot handle all issues that relate to the corporate image of the commission alone, they need to work in concert with other employees in the commission to successfully accomplish the need for concerted efforts in corporate image management and inculcate positive value that the impression on the public will be totally positive.
In the case of this study which has a special focus on the FRSC, it becomes imperative to examine the corporate communication of this organization with the aim to review the challenges therein; considering the fact that the Federal Road Safety Corps was established in 1988 by decree no.45 as a lead agency in the area of safety and traffic management in the country.
1.1.1 Historical Overview of the Federal Road Safety Commission
The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) established in 1988 by Decree No 45 as amended by Decree 35 of 1992 now referred to in status book as the FRSC cap 141 laws of the Federation of Nigeria. The FRSC operates in all Nigerian states as well federal capital territory and it is currently headed by chief Ositadinma Benjamin Chidoka whose title is the Corps Marshal and Its statutory functions generally include (1) making the high ways safe for motorist and other road user, (2) Recommending works and devices designed to eliminate or minimize accidents on the highways, advising the Federal and State Government and even relevant government agencies on the localities where such works and devices are required, the key to its operational success is its corps of marshal operating in a three-tier system. The first tier is the regular marshals ie the uniform men and women in the employment of the FRSC. The second tier, consist of the special marshal i.e the volunteers and the third tier that is made up of cadet marshals. (FRSC. 2012: Para. 1).
The FRSC (establishment Act) 2007 outlined the responsibilities of the corps as follows:
(1) clearing obstruction on the highways, (2) Preventing and minimizing road traffic crashes, 3. Educating drivers, motorist and other members of the public on the proper use of the highways, (4) Designing and producing vehicle number plats and driver’s licences, (5) conducting researchers into the causes, effects and method of preventing road traffic crashes, (6) providing prompt attention and care to victims of road traffic crashes, (7) Determining and enforcing speed limits for all categories of roads and vehicles, (8) cooperating with agencies and groups engaged in road safety activities to prevent crashes on the highways.
But overtime, the reverse seems to be the case. Accidents continued unabated on our roads and road users abuse the road to an unimaginable proportion thereby putting other road users at fatal risks. Moreso, the FRSC is not seen to be the friend of the road users and the result is that there is always blatant disregard by road users of the commission’s laws. The case of the recent drive for the wearing of helmets by motorcyclists is an example.
1.1.2 The Nature of FRSC Corporate Communication
The FRSC, is involved in a lot of corporate communication activities that are aimed at revamping the image of the commission, these are:
The FRSC maintains a website, www.frsc.gov.ng and a page on www. facebook.com for its employees and members of the public who may wish to obtain information, pictures from them as well as participate in the facebook quiz competition called how well do you know the Federal Road Safety Commission?
The commission has a SERVICOM unit i.e. service compact unit for all Nigerians. This unit is responsible for the training of its staff, to ensure efficient and proper service delivery among its staffs and to bridge that the gap between workers and the publics.
Also the FRSC has a programme on NTA called safety Watch, safety magazine, a publication of the commission and they organise rallies, seminars and workshops for its employees in order to increase efficiency and better the image of the organization. Onyeneye (2007: 5) in a seminar, assert that, protocol and education officers of the FRSC must abide by the teachings of the seminar which they attend and impact same on officers who are not there.
The officials of the FRSC must ensure that there is effective implementation of its corporate activities through their actions in the discharge of the duties
1.1.3 FRSC as a Brand
The FRSC whether as a Corps or an institution is a brand of personality to which could be ascribed the virtues of ‘good or friendly’ or lack of it; It follows that any image building campaign must be geared towards creating a personality that would be acceptable and based on truth. Ifode (2009:23) supported this view when he assert that, “public relations must be factual and effective”. He therefore warns that, “public relations people who are image builders must toe that attitude if they want to succeed in their campaign because it will not take long before their lies are exposed”.
This assertion therefore calls to mind certain questions which ought to be addressed in the course of preparing and packaging of an image building campaign, viz:
(1) What is the present image?
(2) What type of image do we wish to present?
(3) Are the corresponding attributes in consonance with the desired image?
(4) What aspect of FRSC should be emphasized and
(5) What aspect should be improved on?
Therefore, this study is out to examine, if corporate communication could be used to build a favourable image for the Corps as against the smattering image it seems to be acquiring in recent times.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Corporate communication when effectively practiced by an organization is capable of placing the organization in an advantageous position in the mind of the publics. It is aimed at creating goodwill for the organization in the society where it exists. Many organizations in recent times that have seen the potency of corporate communication have made it a point of duty to practice corporate communication for the benefit of the organization.
The Federal Road Safety Corps is one of the Federal government institutions in Nigeria that have employed different strategies to pilot most of its communication goals especially in the area of improving its corporate image in the eye of the publics. Despite this effort by the corps, many Nigerians seem to have negative impressions towards this organization. One is forced to ask whether the corporate programmes cum strategies of the FRSC are not strong enough to manage its image problem or whether there is lapse in the packaging of its corporate programmes.
This study therefore, seeks to examine the corporate communication strategies of the FRSC as it relates to building a favourable image for the commission, as against the smattering image it seems to be acquiring in recent times.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
This study is guided by the following objectives:
1. To find out the nature of corporate communication strategy embarked upon by the FRSC.
2. To examine the effectiveness of these strategies.
3. To identify the factors hindering the effectiveness of these corporate communication strategies.
4. To find out the influence of the corporate communication strategies of FRSC on their corporate image.
1.4 Research Questions
This study will generate answers to the following research questions:
1. What is the nature of corporate communication strategies embarked upon by the FRSC?
2. How effective is the corporate communication strategies of the FRSC?
3. What are the factors hindering the effectiveness of corporate communication strategies of the FRSC?
4. What is the influence of the corporate communication strategies of FRSC on their corporate image?
1.5 Significance of the Study.
The primary significance of this study is that it will help the Federal Road Safety Corps to imbibe effectively new things about corporate communication strategies that will enable them better their organization and as well help to minimize the cost of managing the organization’s image.
Theoretically, this study provided a deeper understanding about the practical applications of theories, re-affirm and strengthen the existence of the theories used in this work.
This study will fill the gap in literature as it relates to the corporate communication strategies of the FRSC in building its image.
From the volume of literature provided in this study, it will provide resource materials that scholars and students who will need reference materials for their research.
1.6 Scope of Study
This study is limited to this area because other studies at the disposal of the researcher have really not looked at the evaluation of the corporate communication strategies in building the image of Federal Road Safety Corps, rather they examined the increasing interest in corporate communication practice and trends in china (Feng, 2010), corporate image as a strategic tool and source of competitive advantage for companies (Downey, 1987) and (Bickerton, 1999), building corporate image through societal marketing programmes (Chattananon, 2006), the differences between corporate reputation and Brand images (Cretu and Brodie,2007), and the importance of corporate image on consumer trust (Emerald, 1991).
Hence, this study, focused on the evaluation of the corporate communication strategies in building the corporate programmes of the Federal Road Safety Corps in Enugu State, fills this identified gap.
1.7 Definition of Terms.
In this section there will operational and conceptual definition of terms which are as follows:
Communication: Conceptual Definitions: According to Mbam (2006:60), “communication is the process of sharing ideas and feelings in a mood of mutual understanding. This can be achieved through language spoken and written, visual arts and other non-verbal communication.” Communication is also the transmission of a message from a source to a receiver. People communicate to plan products and services, hire, train and motivate workers, co-ordinate manufacturing and delivery.
Operational Definition: Is the act of sharing ideas, information from one person to another, within and outside an organization and to the publics.
Corporate Image- Conceptual Definitions: Is the totality of the opinion and impression the public has about an organization or institutions. According to Commander Yakubu (2007:1), that this impression or opinion is based on factors such as: the management style, the management style, the organization’s history, the quality of product or service, staff attitude and corporate identity etc.
Operational Definition: Is the perceptual and projected characteristics of an organization that is believed to be central and uniquely descriptive of the organization by the public over a period of time.
Corporate Communication- Conceptual Definitions: Ross (2011:1), basically defined, “corporate communication as the exchange of information between elements of a corporation. Essentially this type of communication is identical to what is referred to in the field of communication.” This type of communication in an organization employs many of the skills required in other forms of communication: clarity of expression, attentive listening, conflict management and various other basic communication skills.
Operational Definition: A conscious and sustained communication activities made to manage the reputation of an organization to achieve a favourable image with it stakeholders.
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