Assessment Of Communication As A Strategic Public Relation
This study was carried out to investigate communication as a strategic public relation. Five research questions were raised with respect to the type of public relation knowledge possessed; types of communication media types of PR strategy, and types of PR competency on the information service provision. A survey research method was used for the study. The overall total number of one hundred and forty six (146) library staff from the relevant division of the four selected federal university libraries reference division, serial customers service and ICT were drawn as population and used as sample size for the study. The four selected university libraries were Kashim Ibrahim library ABU Zaria, Bayero university library, Kano Abdullahi Fodio library, Sokoto and federal university library Dutse, Jigawa. Questionnaire was used to collect data for the study. It was revealed that notice board library news letter hand book, news bulleting poster were the popular types of communication media used for communication with the customers in the selected university libraries studied. Also it was found that library facebook, library website, and television were only used in Kashim Ibrahim library; while television radio blogs electronic mailshot, mobile phone were not used in the university libraries studied. Lastly, the need for intensified efforts at attracting customers based by university libraries through quality information service provision, training and retraining of library staff, regular communication and feedback from the customers and customers forum should be establish so that potential customers would be free to make suggestion on how to improve the library services have been recommended.
1.1 Background of the Study
Communication is regarded as effective tools in public relation. Most organizations in Nigeria today tend to perform poorly due to lack of information dissemination strategies.
According Richter, (2000), communication is the process of meaningful interaction among human beings. It is the act of passing information and the process by which meanings are exchanged so as to produce understanding. Communication is a process which requires a sender, a message, a medium and a recipient. Though, the receiver may not be involved or aware of the sender’s intent to communicate at the time of communication; it is expedient that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. Thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space.
On the other hand communication is very important and may have significant effect on effective public relations procedure. The term “Public Relations “was used for the first time in the United States and the United States Post Office Railway Union and in the first decade of the twentieth century, this country was created the office of public relations at the institute. In 2006, the first private company which the public services offered to its customers was created. In 2007 Association of Public Relations (IPR) provides a definition of public relations, which is still used. In this definition, PR is planned and continuous efforts to establish and maintain goodwill and understanding between an organization and its target audience (Skandari, 2004). Words “planning” and “continuous” show that goodwill and understanding itself does not obtained easily and in fact, must “create” and “maintain” and also determined that public relations activities are planned and the purpose of public relations is to create goodwill and understanding.
Most organizations in Nigeria always fail to implement good public relation strategies and thus a collapse in information communication processes among the organization, the staff and the general public.
1.1.1 Components of Public Relations
The following are components of public relations activities:
Good public relation is impossible without good communication. Good public relation can onlytake effect through a process of communication, if there is no effective communication there is no public relation because relations with customers are established by communicating with them. The tried and tested means of winning and maintain public goodwill is communication. According to Vanwachen (2012), Communication with all interested parties is essential if a business is to live securely and go on operating successfully in a changing and increasing demanding world. Public relation communication is a process involving an interchange of ideas and viewpoints between a business or non profit organization and the public to achieve mutual understanding. However, in a more comprehensive definition by Kpangban (1995) communication is a component of public relation activities, communication between an organization and the public is an important part of any public relation, and is also carried out through verbal and non-verbal channels, all organizations and institutions have particular goals. James (2000) Communication is of vital importance, and failure to communicate will give rise to inefficiency and lack of direction, as pointed out by Beeby (1966) Communication is the establishment of meaning and understanding between people. Library administration is responsible for the control and supervision of a library, and cannot function without good communication. The library as an organization is geared toward serving the users. Therefore, the library needs a way to make meaning and understanding between the clientele and the staff of the library, in order to achieve desired results. (Reitz 2004)
Research findings, according to Frank (2011) is a vital part of public relation because an organization may not know the public opinion about it and what people think and why they have such opinion about an organization are important in helping management established policies. Public relations expert use research and opinion surveys to obtain information from the public; researchers gather information on many problems and opportunity facing the institution, and the library community and determining attitudes and behaviors of publics in order to plan public relations strategies. Public relation activities in the modern world help institutions to cope successfully with many Problems, to build prestige for an individual or group, to promote products.
1.1.2 Information Resources and Service Provision in University Library
The primary reason of establishing University libraries is to support the universities functions of teaching, learning, research and community services in ways consistent with, and supportive of the institution’s mission and goals. Chiweza (2006) supported that the growth of research in all fields of human endeavour is becoming increasingly detailed and sophisticated; Also, the staff and students have realized that library has great roles to play in the provision of information necessary for their day to day research. The library acts as a medium of getting the latest scientific and technological information either in print or in electronic form, for accessibility and use of the library patrons. Library information resources include not only traditional print-on-paper media like books, journals, newspapers, and maps, but also audiovisual materials like cinematograph film records, audiocassettes, video cassettes, projectors, microfiches, Compact Disk Read Only Memory (CD-ROM), computer software, online databases, electronic books and e-journals and other media via the Internet.
1.1.4 University Libraries
The history of Universities in Nigeria dates back to 1948 with the establishment of the University College, Ibadan an affiliate of University College London. Development of university libraries in Nigeria cannot be separated from the evolution and growth of universities in the country. The history of library development in Nigeria dates back to preindependence, when the University of Ibadan and its library were established in 1948. As pointed out by Aguolu (1996), since independence in 1960, there has been an unrelenting upsurge in the establishment of educational institutions at all levels, but especially at the university level. University libraries, as integral academic parts of universities, generally emerged simultaneously with their parent institutions.
One hundred and twenty five (125) universities were accredited by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC, 2012). They comprised fourty (40) Federal universities, 37 state owned universities and 50 private universities spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The main objective of any academic library is to satisfy its users by providing resources to meet their educational, research, information and recreational needs. The library cannot achieve these aims without ‘good will’ and co-operation of its stakeholders. Thus, the library needs public relations in its effort to achieve its aims. Therefore, high quality information resources and services supplemented by personal contact through public relations is a necessary requirement. Public relations influence and create confidence in the management and library customers in such a way that they become aware of the services and policies of the library, develop knowledge and understanding of a new reorganization or new initiative introduced by the library. It helps to establish better contact between the library staff and the customers, so that what is known can be enlarged upon and used more fully. Omoba (2007) stated that Public relations bring about co-operation among professional colleagues creating a sense of oneness thereby improving relationship. This relationship can lead to mutual collaboration among university libraries. Public relations helps to establish better contact between the librarians and the customers, this give the librarian opportunity to create a good image of the library which can lead to an increase in the utilization of library resources and services. According to Ogunrombi and Babafemi (1997) the role of communication is not taken seriously as a publicity strategy in Nigerian University Libraries. Therefore, the library authority must be convinced that communication can be used to publicize library stocks; by this means the public will come to appreciate the library services better.
Therefore, despite the advantages of public relation in academic Libraries as enumerated above most of the Nigerian federal Universities are not making use of public relation as a strategy to secure mutual understanding and promote or build the image of the library for effective service delivery.
1.3 Research Questions
The following are the research questions raised for this study:
- What are the public relations strategies adopted by Federal University Libraries in North Western States of Nigeria for information services provision?
- What public relations techniques are employed by Federal University Libraries in North western states of Nigeria for information service provision?
- How do Federal University Libraries in North Western States communicate with their customers for public relations services?
- What type of ICT tools are used for public relations for information service provision in Federal University libraries in the North Western States?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objective of the study is to examine the public relation strategies in the provision of information resources and services in selected Federal University libraries in North Western States.
The objectives of this study include:
- To identify the strategies used in promoting the image among the customers in Federal
University Libraries in North Western States of Nigeria
- To find out the public relations techniques employed by the library staff in Federal University Libraries.
- To identify the communication media used for public relations in Federal University library in the North Western States of Nigeria.
- To identify the types of ICT tools available and used in the provision of public relation services in Federal University Libraries in North western State.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The essence of public relations is mutual understanding between the management and its customers. This research would be of immense benefit to many libraries. However, these will only be possible if Nigerian Federal University libraries understand and apply it. One of the major objectives of academic libraries is to support teaching and learning and to communicate and create awareness on the importance of their services or products, and to have the target audience to patronize them. This study intends to acquaint libraries and information centres with basic strategies and techniques of public relations in the achievement of such objectives or goals. In addition, it would help libraries and information centres build their corporate image in a way that would project their resources and services favourably. It will add to the number of studies and literature on public relations.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study basically focused on public relations of four (4) selected Federal University libraries in the North western state of Nigeria. These libraries are: Bayero University Libraries, Kashim Ibrahim Library, Federal University Library Dutse, and Abdullahi Fodiyo Library. The study covers public relations strategies for information service provision in federal Nigerian University Libraries in the North Western State of Nigeria. However, the library staffs who are the subject of the study are the professional staffs of the libraries.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
This study was limited to public Relations strategies for information service provision in federal university libraries in North Western State of Nigeria, due to some constraints which include the spread and distance of the university libraries, shortage of fund require to tour the study area, time within which to complete the project delay cause by respondents.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are defined operationally to ease their understanding and usage in the study.
Information service is any service intended to provide information for t Information resources: information resources are materials which they are found in various formats which includes book and non-book materials, electronic resources and of course resources accessible on the internet.
Is a building or room containing collections of books, periodicals, and sometimes films and recorded music for people to read, borrow, or refer to.
Public Relation (PR):
Is the act of creating and cultivating a good relationship with the user in the Library.
Is a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal
1.9 Organization of Study
The study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study. Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature. The chapter three gives the research methodology while the chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data. The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.
Conclusion and Recommendation
This study was carried out on assessment of communication as a strategic public communication. Based on the findings of this study, it could be concluded that university libraries studied have realised the need for the public relation in information service provision as a strategies in order to promote demand for their product and service as well as build relationship with their customers. The use of public relations will enhance the libraries effectiveness within the university and project image and the perception of the university. It may in turn encourage university manager or authority to reward the library with increased resources to further enhance library services.
There is no doubt that if the federal university libraries can fully utilize all the basic component of Public relation like effective communication, listening skills, research and evaluation for information service provision there will be high customer’s patronage, appreciation, high customer relationship, and above all high customer’s satisfaction with their information service. The challenges of public relations in the libraries if not properly handled will reduce their potentials to achieve the goals and objectives of their parent institution especially through the provision of current and relevant information resources and services that are necessary to sustain teaching, learning and research.
The following are the recommendation of the study.
- Every library staff, especially those in reference services Division, customer services Division, Serials Division and information and communication technology (ICT) respectively should be trained and retrained to possessed public relations strategies, such as interpersonal skills, Strategic marketing planning, communication skills, promotion strategies, customers behaviour skills, to serve as public relations point man of the library at all times and in all situation.
- Library staffs should regards complaints as a tools that help audit their services this will help library identify gaps that need to be closed in terms of customer‘s relationship. Also libraries should organized customers forum, organized focus group discussion telephone hotlines as avenues for tracking customer’s feedback and the use of Short Message Service (SMS) should be highly advocated. This will help a long way in securing mutual relationship with the customers.
- Media for communication such as telephone service, television, radio and face book, flick should be employed to facilitate communication between the University libraries and their potential customers. Also the University libraries should make it compulsory for both old and new students to have a copy of the library handbook so as to enable them know the rules and regulations of the library, and also know the availability of the library resources and services available for their studies.
- Telephone SMS, library website, email service should be made available and functional in the university libraries in order to periodically inform their customers of the latest happenings in the library. This will help in providing a quality and relevant information service provision. Finally public relation division should be created in order to handle customer’s enquiries for customers concerning library operation.
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