Many scholars have contributed to the success of defining what public relations is. Some scholars believed and wrote on it as act (deed) representative (representing) a group or organization. Public relations is deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics. British Institute of Public Relations (IBPR).
According to Roger Hayward as quoted by Adegoke (2001:1) says that public relations is the propagation of the personality of the organization. This states the importance of communication between the organization and its public” Roger Hayward’s definition has something to do with the British Institute of Public Relations (IBPR) definition because both state the duty of public relations officers in promoting, projecting and representing the organization and at the same time relating with the publics of the organization both the internal and external public. Public relations project the management personality of which the public relations department represents, through their activities with the use of their perspective tools (i.e. Print and electronic media).
The aim is to create favorable atmosphere between an organization and its publics. Sam Black (1962: 62) asserts that public relations involve anything that is focused, improving and enhancing the flow of communication between institution and its publics. The main words that can be draw out from Sam Black definition in the crucial role- played by any ( if any)public relations department through the means of using mass media. However, in this research work, impartial assessment will be done, on the role of public relations in enhancing customers’ satisfaction as the main crucial and prominent tool in business success.
While customer satisfaction, a term frequently used in marketing, is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation. Customer satisfaction is defined as "the number of customers, or percentage of total customers, whose reported experience with a firm, its products, or its services (ratings) exceeds specified satisfaction goals. In a survey of nearly 200 senior marketing managers, 71 percent responded that they found a customer satisfaction metric very useful in managing and monitoring their businesses.
It is seen as a key performance indicator within business and is often part of a Balanced Scorecard. In a competitive marketplace where businesses compete for customers, customer satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator and increasingly has become a key element of business strategy.
"Within organizations, customer satisfaction ratings can have powerful effects. They focus employees on the importance of fulfilling customers’ expectations. Furthermore, when these ratings dip, they warn of problems that can affect sales and profitability. . . . These metrics quantify an important dynamic. When a brand has loyal customers, it gains positive word-of-mouth marketing, which is both free and highly effective. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to effectively manage customer satisfaction. To be able do this, firms need reliable and representative measures of satisfaction.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Public relations are the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public Robert T. Relly (1981). Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. The aim of public relations by an organization often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions Robert T. Relly (1981). Common activities include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press, and employee communication.
Ivy Lee and Edward Louis Bernays established the first definition of public relations in the early 1900s as follows: "a management function, which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures, and interests of an organization... followed by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. However, when PR pioneer Ivy Lee was later asked about his role in a hearing with the United Transit Commission, he said "I have never been able to find a satisfactory phrase to describe what I do. In 1948, historian Eric Goldman noted that the definition of public relations in Webster's would be "disputed by both practitioners and critics in the field.
Today, people need a system of communication that will give them the same voice. The management also needs a face-to-face system of communication with its staff.
This is why Cutlip in his book “Public Relation” cited by Bittner (1989, p.229) traced the profession in concept back to the ancient Greeks who conceived the idea of the “Public Will” and to the Romans, who used the expression “the voice of the people is the voice of God”. Haywood in (1991, p.4) stated that the most satisfactory practical definition of Public Relations is that “it is the management of corporate reputation”, while the British Institution of Public Relations (BIPR) as cited by Umeana (1996,p.11) defined it as “a deliberate, planned and sustained effort aimed at establishing and maintaining mutual understanding between an organization and its publics”. This particular definition in effect imposes on the public relations practitioner a major responsibility to disseminate the organization’s information regarding its policies, development plans, project and programmes.
Denny Grieworld (1948), an editor of Public Relations News defined public relations thus: “Public Relations are the management functions which evaluates public attitudes, intensifies the policies and procedures of an individual or organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a programme of actions to earn public understanding and acceptance.”
Another definition of public relations by some Mexicans, the International Public Relations Association met in 1978 and came up with a definition thus: “Public relations is the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences and counseling organizations leaders, and implementing planned programmes of action which serve both the organizations and the public interest.”
In all human endeavors, groups of different kinds tend to organize themselves into associations where they can form pressure groups to articulate their demands from the system they operate in. These groups include government and non-governmental groups, and such associations and societies usually have need for meetings which are called conferences, seminars and workshops
In our world today, this definition encompasses a diversity of job titles such as “Public Relations Manager”, “Director of Public information”, “Public Affairs Officer” and Coordinator of Public Relations”.
History of Public Relations in Nigeria
In Nigeria, Public Relations were first introduced on January 1st, 1994, by the then colonial government as an Information Office, shortly before the British Government entered World War 11. This Information Office served as a subordinate office to the newly created Ministry of Information in London. It was not until 1946 that the Public Relations Office took shape.
Aims of Public Relations in the Country.
1. To keep the people informed of Government policies.
2. To give the people an opportunity to express their views on important issues before decisions are taken.
3. To let the people know how the Public Relations Department is to work and to let the people know their rights and responsibility as citizens.
4. To promote a sense of civic pride.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
This research has observed that in so many organizations, especially profit oriented firm ,management do focus on how to maximize their profit at the expense of their customers. The management does not as we realize the potential of public relations activities in building and enhancing a good image for the success of the organization. While customer remain a power, bedrock of every successful organization which a serious firm will never toy with. This research focuses on how public relations can enhance customers satisfaction in government parastattals.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are:
I. To examine the role of public relations in an organization.
II. To highlight ways by which an organization can use PRs in satisfying customers.
III. To study the techniques PR can adopt in enhancing customer satisfaction.
IV. To study the public relations media that can facilitate customers’ satisfaction.
V. To x-ray the quality expected of PRs in a profit making firms.
VI. To let the public relations office aware of intermediary role in an organization.
VII. To examine some of the challenges facing public relations.