THE LIMITATIONS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICE
IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Development, with respect to countries can be examined from various perspectives, depending on the countries involved For instance, the meaning attached to it by the developed countries could be different from that of the developing or less-developed countries. This, therefore, suggests that there is not likely to be an all- embracing description or definition acceptable the world over.
However, Rogerian (1996) argued that “development is a widely participatory process of social changes in a society intended to bring about social and material advancement for the majority of people through their gaining of greater control over the environment” Similarly, it may not be easy to clearly separate a developing country from a less developed one due to their similarities in terms of features. Although while some believe that there is a distinction between the two others contend that such distinction is without a difference, thereby suggesting that they are one and the same. For purposes of this study, however, the two terminologies, that is, developing and less developed, shall be used interchangeably.
A developing country can be described as one that is still in the process of attaining an acceptable degree of sufficiency in terms of resources. But for any country to attain this height there are some development tools that should be employed, and one of such is Public Relations.
The relevance of public relations in achieving national growth and development in any society can hardly be over-emphasized due to due to its various techniques that are highly result- oriented.
Most developed countries of the world today have come to the realization of this submission and have made conscious efforts to make the best use of Public Relations techniques to their advantage.
Public Relations revolve round sound organized two-way communication and consistent information dissemination. Information is an aspect of communication and communication is equally a part of public relations. Information creates knowledge and knowledge helps in shaping opinion with a view to winning goodwill that could be built with the aid of Public Relations practices.
Ekpo (1993) argues that Public Relations as a profession is concerned with communicating policies and actions to special groups or the public at large.
Today governments all over the world have employed Public Relations to assist them in governance.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
Evidence indicates that developing countries now require public relations techniques as part of the tools necessary in efforts to achieve national development, especially in such areas as mobilization of the citizenry and their enlightenment with respect to the benefits of such a development.
However, some obstacles seem to be affecting the effective use of the available Public Relations techniques in this direction.
The following problems, among others have the tendency of inhibiting the flow of this study:
(a) Most people in developing countries seem to be ignorant regarding the relevance of public relations activities to their national development
(b) There tends to be a dearth of modern communication facilities necessary for the effective practice of public relations in developing countries
(c) Lack of adequate recognition and support from the government of most developing countries seem to be affecting the practice of public relations
(d) There seems to be insufficient promotional activities of the public relations profession by the different professional bodies charged with such responsibilities
(e) Inadequate public relations practitioners in developing countries tends to inhibit the practice of public relations in such countries
(f) Relatively low funding of public relations programmes in such countries is also having an adverse effect on the practice of the profession.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The study shall attempt to achieve the following objectives, among others:
1. To examine the factors hindering the effective practice of the public relations profession in developing countries.
2. To satisfy part of the academic requirements for the award of a Master’s Degree in Public Relations.
3. To provide an academic challenge to scholars in the area of public relations practice in developing countries.
4. To offer recommendations on what actions to be taken in addressing the identified limitations
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is significant in the sense that it will provide useful information for the advancement of further studies in the area of public relations.
Also there is much data to provoke subsequent research and development of academic knowledge by way of books, journals, seminar paper, etceteras in this area of study.
Apart from the practical research experience which this study shall avail the researcher, it is also going to be a source of relevant information with respect to the limitations of public relations in developing Countries
The successful completion of this study shall serve as a useful reference for libraries.
Finally, the result of this study shall be a source of information for the general reader who want to probably improve his or her knowledge on issues revolving round the practice of public relations in developing countries.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the factors inhibiting the effective practice of public relations in developing countries?
2 How can public relations practice be enhanced in developing countries?
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THIS STUDY
Actually, the scope of this study should have been designed to cover most developing countries but due to inadequate resources, the researcher had to use Nigeria as the main unit of analysis.
It is a statement of fact that the average Nigerian researcher is constantly faced with a gamut of interacting variables that tend to impede his/her efforts at promoting learning and improving the functional knowledge of people.
Consequent upon the foregoing, the researcher also had to contend with some problems which include the following:
1. Inadequate finance - This was perhaps the greatest problem the researcher encountered because it hampered easy movement around the study area.
2. Time constraint - Due to the time limit attached to the submission of this project report, it was impossible for the researcher to cover wider grounds.
3. Indifferent Attitude of Respondents- Some of the respondents exhibited some form of lackadaisical attitude in completing the questionnaires and were reluctant to grant oral interviews. This seems to be a confirmation of an argument by Ene Essien (1979) that “the main problem associated with the collection of primary data in Nigeria is the reluctance of interviewees to respond to simple questions since such will not put a meal on their tables”. As a result of this, therefore, the researcher had to make conscious efforts to disabuse such respondents’ unfounded prejudices in order to get them respond positively.