AN EVALUATION OF THE CORPORATE COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES OF THE FEDERAL ROAD SAFETY CORPS (FRSC) IN BUILDING ITS IMAGE IN ENUGU STATE.
This study evaluates the corporate communication strategies of FRSC in building its image. The study was built on Frank Jefkin’s transfer process model and the image restoration theory. Using survey research design, the study sampled 156 respondents which was got from a population of 3,257, 298 residents of Enugu state. An error limit of 0.08, was applied to the Taro Yamani’s formula in order to obtain the sample size. The study made use of questionnaire as the research instrument. Using simple percentages and frequency distribution tables in analyzing the data, the study found out that majority of the respondents know about the corporate communication strategies of the FRSC to include; ember month rallies seminars and workshops, servicom units but that more than half of the respondents do not know about the FRSC facebook page. The study further revealed that poor implementation of these corporate communication strategies and corruption among FRSC officials undermine the effectiveness of these strategies. The findings also indicated that corporate communication is a veritable tool to build the image of FRSC, if it is well imbibed by the staff, will create confidence in its services to the public. The study recommends that future image management programmes should offer specific solutions to image challenges and this can only be realized through an extensive research based effort incorporated into corporate communication programmes. It also recommends that there should be periodic monitory and evaluation of these strategies.
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.
- 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.