The Role of Public Relations in Building Corporate Image

The Role of Public Relations in Building Corporate Image

The following are important  in reviewing  literature related to this study

a.       The origin and concept  of public relations

b.       The place of public relations in an organization

c.       Corporate public

d.       Corporate image

e.       Social responsibility


          Public relations is  as old as the  store Age.  As business organization has grown more  complex, the demand for good public relation has increased and its management has equally become complex. It’s root could be traced back to  18th century but the systematically planned and organized public relations  dates only from the 1920’s.  during the  past two  centuries, the means of communication have continued to  increase.

Public relations mean different things to  different people.   It is therefore difficult to  define it in precise terms.  It is seen in a much large perspective than what it used to be as the profit determinants of most managements, hence it is fast assuming dimension that are oriented towards public services and public satisfaction.

Shelter in his book “public opinion  in American society (1960) states that “the  activities  performed by an individual or a group in order to create a political real public relations that will be favorably disposed towards a  predetermined object constitute public relation”.

In the book “The role of public relations in management, Sam Black (1972) saw public relations as the establishment of two way communication to solve conflicts of  interest  and establishment of two way communication to solve conflicts of interest and establishment of advertising based on truth, knowledge and full information”.

This  then goes to prove that public relations is a professional means of organizing communication and mutual understanding in  order to promote interest of an organization or individual.  That is it concerns itself with how a corporate  body relates to the  generality of the people where it has objectives.

With this background, Nwosu  (1992) in his book “public relations speech, media writing  and copy” quotes the  editors of public relations News who defined public relations as “a philosophy and functions of management which era mates public attitudes identifies the polices and  individual and organization with public interest and understanding and acceptances”.

As stated earlier, public relations is not used to determine profits of an organization rather is now  introducing the human factor into the management.   That is, management is more concerned with what people think about them than how much monery to be made out of them.

Norman A. Hart in the book “Industrial Advertising and publicity” (1978) puts it more clearly by saying that “the concern is not so much to be directly involved in selling but rather to project the company’s image and   create a climate in which the selling operation can be conducted with greater efficiency”

Martson in the book “Nature if public relations” (1963) in trying to put a lot of definitions forward, saw public relations as “planned, persuasive communication designed to influence significant public”.   He emphasized the key words in this definition planned’, persuasive, communication and significant public”.  He said that  public relations is not accidental but planned to  convince some  to do or believe in something.

In broad terms, the public relations function is to establish and maintain a mutual understanding between its  public and to communicate a company’s view, objectives and purpose while  at the same time monitoring feed back and correcting the public attitudes and reactions.

Overall, one might say that public relations is concerned with creating a favourable image or a favourable reputation.


The concept of public relations as a corporate effort is very basic yet very new in some business organization.  The significance  of the concept has become more pronounced with the strong emergency of  a new approach to development in most modern organization.

The term corporate public relations express the new development in modern management and are reflection of a more fundamental concept that have been reshaping management’s directions in recent  times.

Biddle Combi in the book “financial advertising and public relations” (1971) defined corporate public relations as “the overall control and direction of public relations programme”.

In whatever the organization now does  be it in the board room, production room,. On sales counter, emphasis is generally boarding form the narrow and often times selfish concern for profit motive to large and indeed, attitude concern for public general good.

Aronoff and Baskin (1983) were also of the opinion that  “a corporations success is a function not only  of how to manufacture  and market  its products, but also how it is viewed by its public”

Recent trends made it clear that the problems facing management and the  society are no longer in the tangible areas of management sciences but in the attitudes of people.  Plans of public need depend  as much in the  attitudes of people.  It is in  this vain that James Strensk, stated that the public relations practitioner deals with attitude, striving to favourable impact attitude of a variety  of public”

One should  also point out  that there are  some basic differences in  various forms of policy  formulations being made by the management and public relations practices.  But as enlightened management continues to put most of their policy formation of those managements are in actual fact public relation polices of an organization.

Public relations has become the major nucleus of an organization.   It therefore becomes increasingly evident over the years to more corporate management, that the public have in fact, important element of mutual interest that requires specific management attention.

Edward Bernaps said that this rapidly changing world, the obligation of a company’s management are no longer limited only to increasing sales, and profits but by winning friends and influencing people”. He further explained that the growth and survival of  an organization depends solely on the services it offers the society.  That is improving social conditions  of the public.  However, Stenki pointed out “proper measurement can enhance the  importance of the public relations function in management  eyes and contributed in helping both short and long term corporate objectives”

If public relations is to be taken seriously by the public, they must be carefully and through planned and carefully expressed in concrete expression.  It is  for this reason that they should be expressed alongside and integrated with other management policies that reflects good public relations consciousness but for it to be effectual and mandatory, it must be properly spelt out.

Hence Dambert looks at corporate public relations  as a function of management which helps  a company to establish and maintain a good name for itself and its products and services through professional communication techniques”.  He however saw public relations as not being synonymous with publicity. That public relations develop messages while publicity delivers  them to their right place and at the right time.

From these background, we can conclude that business does not operate in a social vacuum.  If they are to ensure long term survival, they need to respond to the growing public criticism of their activities and to be seen to make a positive contribution towards meeting society’s goal. For this premise, it can be observed that corporate public relations in modern management is an age when public good is fast becoming the greatest  consideration of all.


Public is a group of people  with whom a business organization has dealing or interacts with and who are of vital importance to the existence of the organization.  Every organization is exposed to different public where relations strategies employed by such organization will also  differ hence the need for classified relations addressed to the various public of organization.

The need for constant information on the activities and procedures of any organization is as  vital as the physical requirement for food and shelter.  When the Nigerian Airways Enugu fails  to inform customers on the changing time, flights schedules, the customers would culminate in avoidable delays, customers erosion of confidence and dwindling patronage.

The customers actually need information purchases and programme organization.  In this case, the polices and programmes of the Nigerian airways, Enugu must be communicated effectively to the public  to earn understanding, mutuality and acceptance.

According to John Marston “stockholders are often an important source of additional fuel for expansion of acquisition”

The public expect the organization to improve on their general well being.

However, the media public is very important to the success and corporate image of any  organization.   The media include, Newspapers, magazine, Television and Radio. all of them serve  as grate keepers opening the door for wider  contact  with other public.  If the public receives the necessary information from Nigerian Airways Enugu  in a well co-ordinate form they would then be friendly, helpful and stimulated to adopt and adapt to organizational needs  and aspirations.

Considering the effective and the positive of public relations man in connection to the role, Marston has this to say..

Almost  all public relations practice is specific.  It selects public, analyses them, plans this actions in relation to their needs and desires and then aims at what ever means that are most suitable and effective.  Success depends largely upon now well each of these steps are planned and executed”


corporate image is a function of  company’s contacts with the public.  The protections of the corporate image is the public relations experts particular responsibility and should also be conscious of the organization in every respect in which his activities represent the image.

According to Walter Lippman, “corporate image of an  organization depends on the company’s behaviour and principal performance, it marketing polices and quality of its products, the standard of its personal relations and its  design managements”

It is of great importance to note that how an organization gets credit from its various public is a question of the  relations that exist between the organization and the public.  If the relationship  is cordial, enjoying and profitable to them, they stand to support and hail the organization.  But when the polices and programmes of the organization are unfavourable and conflict with the public interest,  needs and aspirations, the image or good will of the organization will be in danger.  If the behaviour and financial performance  as well as the products of the organization are channeling properly towards the customer orientation, the customers will patronize the organization more and well.

Truly speaking, when Nigerian Airways Enugu executes its polices and programmes will, focusing directly on the objectives it sets out to achieve and map out systematic strategies to achieve them,  it  will likely  run away from image problem.  This is also because the public must have benefited in one way or the other and as such, would  come together and help foster the image of the organization and  portray it in a good way.

In fact, any organization suffering from image problem is likely to have its roots from falls hood and insincere activities.  But as  soon as the organization  becomes more open in their activities programmes and implementation of  polices it will start enhancing its image.  This is so because image is not statistically created in the  minds of human beings.  It is constantly subject to change and its does change.  When an image is perceived, it  can be individual or social perception of a sensual thing perceived  as an entity or a coherent whole which does not necessarily have something to do with the reality of the situation.

The public relations practitioner should be able to monitor the two trends in public behavior and attitude.  This would help him  to correct any wrong impression that may portray the organization in false light.  Each customer develops a different image compounded of his personal experiences sensations, prejudice and sometime, fallacy. If the customer sees or perceives  something wrong in Nigerian Airways Enugu, say lack of punctuality in flight time schedules, his conception, opinion and  altitude towards the organization will automatically change.  He would be found distrusting Nigerian Airway Enugu, thereby tarnishing the image or goodwill.  It is therefore imperative for the public relations practitioner to have the primary responsibility for vigilance over the corporate image.

In most cases, unless people are happy, the full objectives of the Nigerian Airways Enugu may not be fully realized.  To this effect, the organization must make  sure that its observed behaviour and the general activities should be predicated upon the publics’ interest orientation.


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7 Comments on “The Role of Public Relations in Building Corporate Image”

  1. RUTH EKARA says:

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