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The Impact of Public Relations Principles in the Strategic Management of the Police Force in Kenya

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The Impact of Public Relations Principles in the Strategic Management of the Police Force in Kenya
  Universal Journal of Management 2(3): 116-126, 2014 DOI: 10.13189/ujm.2014.020302 The Impact of Public Relations Principles in the Strategic Management of the Police Force in Kenya Debora Mary Muchilwa 1 , Odoyo Collins Otieno 2,* , Moses Oginda 2 , David Oima 1   1 Department of Marketing and Management, Maseno University, Kenya 2 Department of Management Sciences *Corresponding Author: Copyright © 2014 Horizon Research Publishing All rights reserved. Abstract   Public Relations is a department which has not  been effectively utilized in the public sector, particularly in the police force in Kenya. One can hardly find it clearly defined and stipulated in the statutes and organizational structures of the various public institutions. Its presumed non-existence has resulted to lack of aggressiveness and low morale among staff members, negative publicity and bribery incidences in the forces, increased insecurity, negligence and  public demonstrations as witnessed in Kenya during the 2007 post election violence. This study sought to determine the effect of public relations principles in the management of the police force in Kenya. This study used cross sectional data. The study target populations were four (4) police stations in Kisumu police division comprising of approximately 330 staff members of the force in the four stations under KPD (this figures are as at October 2008). Given the numbers involved and sensitivity of information in the police force, convenience and simple random sampling were used for the study. A reconnaissance study done in October 2008 confirms the availability of respondents to  provide data required. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the data, which was presented in the form of frequency tables and bar charts. The data for the study reported that only top-level management was involved in  planning activities. Majority (59.03%, n=98) of the respondents seemed to be of the opinion that the effectiveness and efficiency of the planning process including policy formulation and analysis was on the average. The media was most involved in informing management on PR as stated by 59.03% of the respondents. The study recommends that facts gathering instrument like conducting of interviews, literature review, observation and informal conversations be used so as to be able to collect appropriate data. This is because Radio/TV alone cannot offer holistic information on the PR situation. It would thus be important to conduct full surveys and to produce reports so as to accurately present the PR situation. Keywords Public Relations, PR, Kisumu Police Division, KPD 1. Introduction Public Relations is a continuous and systematic process that involves multiple publics and provides advice to the management of an organization concerning policies, relationships and communication. It is a planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its  publics (Jefkins, 1998). It is used here as an activity that seeks to establish good relationships and understanding  based on facts, knowledge and information. Public relations in this study will be characterized by research, planning, counseling and anticipation of public opinion. Public Relations (PR) is not a recent profession. It has existed since 1890 when Lloyd George used it to explain the new old age pension. The First World War also employed a lot of public relation activities through the establishment of information services and ministries of information for the  purpose of publicity (Puri, 1995). With increasing PR activities the world over, many PR organizations such as International Public Relations Association (IPRA) and the Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) have now been established. Public relations departments have also been created in the private and public sectors including public universities and the police force. In developing countries, PR is extensively used in the  police force not just for media relations but also in  preventing or reducing crimes through the organization of special events in which participants secure sponsors and hand out crime prevention tips from the local police department which educates citizens on how to make their community safer and raise money for community crime  prevention. PR has further been used in organizing for police volunteer programs and in assisting the police work in  partnership with community groups. Police Agencies have established public information officers who communicate with a variety of audiences, particularly the media. This has resulted in moving law enforcement from a closed to a more open system of communication (New York, Police quarterly, 2002). PR is practiced extensively in Kenya today, as evidenced   Universal Journal of Management 2(3): 116-126, 2014 117  by the number of people serving as public relations officers, information officers and PR consultants. The establishment of Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC) is indicative of the positive attitude towards information, media and the need to enhance communication in an African context with a widely scattered and often newly literate, or semi-literate population (Black, 1991). In Kenya, we have approximately three hundred (300) stations of the police force, (Kenya police standing orders). To enhance its  performance and improve on its PR the police force has thus restructured its organization setup to include the position of the public relations officer also known as police spokesman. At Kisumu Police Division we have a customer care desk which serves as an information desk, though, media relations are normally handled by the Officer Commanding the Police Division (OCPD). However, it is not clear if the customer care desk applies other PR principles besides dissemination of information. One important function of PR is anticipating public opinion. For effective anticipation of public opinion, the PR department must deal with real and perceived public opinion as they establish and maintain relationships with their many internal and external publics (Black, 1972). If public opinion is not anticipated, then there will be no dynamic process of any interpersonal and media communication on issues, resulting in misunderstanding. Administrators need to understand the attitudes and values of their publics in order to achieve organizational goals, and counseling is extremely vital in this area. A PR practitioner acts as a counselor to management and as a mediator helping to translate aims into reasonable and publicly acceptable  policies and actions. (Drucker, 1954). Without the counselor, the management may not adequately inform the members of the organization about the laws and regulations and the effect of those laws on their lives. He or she may misjudge the  possible reactions of the members about the proposed laws and policies of the organization. The issue of planning is critical to any management undertaking. For effective planning, the role of PR is very crucial. Planning is about taking steps to agree on the resources; that is, the means by which the aims and objectives may be fulfilled (Michael, 2008). Part of this  process includes deciding on the policies which will guide the implementation of the plans. Planning is essentially a cyclical and an ongoing process in which aims and objectives are regularly reviewed and where the progress of  plans are subjected to frequent review and updating in the light of results (cole,1979). The other important function of PR is research. For effective research, the PR department should listen to the complaints, compliments, enquiries, request, and suggestion of both the internal and external public. Complaints should  be investigated and errors corrected, compliments should be acknowledged and passed on to those directly concerned while enquiries, requests and suggestions should be considered conscientiously and acted on promptly (black, 1972). All these will lead to excellent management practices that will strengthen the reputation of an organization or institution such as the police force in the eyes of the individuals concerned. Without research, it would be difficult to diagnose the problems of the institution (police force). It becomes impossible to know how popular an institution is with its customers and other publics with whom its directly involved. Research is particularly significant to the police force considering the fact that they are law implementers and they need to integrate the publics’ complaints, compliments and suggestions in the formulation of their laws and policies. Management refers to the process of forecasting, planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling (Fayol, 1987). Management will be operationally defined as crisis solving, communication output, decision making and implementation. Although PR is accepted as an important tool in management, the extent to which it has been used and appreciated in the management of the police force is not clear.  No clear mandate has been outlined in the management of the police force on how they use PR to plan for their daily operations. This scenario suggests the need for a study to address the effect of PR principles in the management of the  police force. 2. Literature Review Management is about forecasting, planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling (Fayola 1987). Fact finding , counseling and gauging the attitudes of both the internal and external public conclusively helps in coming up with an inclusive plan, which will in essences be easier to organize, coordinate and control since it encompasses the opinions of all those that may be affected. PR has developed very rapidly in recent years, partly  because management of various commercial and non-commercial organizations has discovered a need for PR activities. Government and Public services have being among the leading users of PR techniques. According to Jefkins, (1994) Lloyd George, Chancellor of exchequer in the UK used PR to research and give an explanation on the new old age pension scheme. In 1912 the first president of International Public Relations (IPR) Sir Stephen Talent used PR to promote the empire marketing board between 1926 and 1993. In the UK, PR played an increasingly important role in creating understanding in industries such as Tele-communication, supermarkets and insurance companies. Telecommunication companies used PR Specialists to launch new products. The PR tool effectively implemented can help correlate the private interest and to facilitate the growth and development of that particular organization. The relationship  between good management and employee relations to job satisfaction and other organizational outcomes are indicators of organizational effectiveness. Similarly, research has shown that PR is a public function. It plays several roles of  118 The Impact of Public Relations Principles in the Strategic Management of the Police Force in Kenya advising and supporting top officials (Cutlip et al. , 1985). Like managers PR executives may be too closer to situation to maintain an objective point of view. PR can thus influence organizational actions by demonstrating the ability to  produce results in accordance with the organizational goals. Every organized effort to influence public opinion on specific target groups, directly or through the media, involves the use of PR strategies and tactic. Despite the growing influence of PR, however, little application of PR theory and research has been integrated into the study of  political campaigning and political marketing process. Political marketing as a professional practice use public relations strategies and techniques. Political marketing would benefit from an integration of public relations theory and research in which four public relations theories – relationship theory. Contingency theory, situational theory of publics and agenda building theory should be of particular interest. The contingency theory of accommodation in PR  points that the practice of PR moves on a continuum from total advocacy for an organization to total accommodation of a public (Grunig and Hunt, 1984). From an agenda building  perspective, the primary role of political public relations is in shaping the media agenda, although it is crucial to recognize its contribution to image management, internal party communication and government information management (Otis et al  ., 1995). Political PR efforts contribute to the media agenda through the use of information subsidies in the form of news releases, debates, press conferences and interview, among others. Political marketing as a  professional field of activity and an academic field of research would benefit from a broader and deeper understanding of modern PR theories as it involves building long term relationships. Generic principles of Excellent PR in a different cultural context, a case study of Singapore analyzed four generic  principles of PR based on the Excellency Theory to analyze the extent to which strategic PR management was practiced in Singapore and whether PR is part of senior management in different types of organizations.  Norman Hart (1995) in his book, focused on strategic management where he looked at the introduction to the concept and practice of strategic planning for a business and the relationship of public relations to the achievement of corporate goals. Otis; et al on the other hand studied the theories used in PR and adopted Grunig’s model of PR to illustrate the different ways organizations relate with their publics. Further, they studied the use of public relations in not –profit organizations where realization of the necessity for consistency in their relationships with various publics, membership recruitment or retention and fundraising  basically depended on the proper use of PR. PR in government keeps public informed about issues, problems and actions at all levels of government. PR helps in gaining support foe new laws or initiatives, stimulating citizen interest and relieving public confusion about government agencies, processes and programes, facilitating voter decision making by providing factual information and by enabling citizens to use government services fully by  providing continuous information. According to Paul Christ (2009), PR involves the cultivation of favorable relations for organizations and products with its key public through the use of a variety of communication channels and tools such as media relations, media tours, newsletters, special events and sponsorships. PR building awareness and a favorable image for a company or client within stories and articles found in relevant media outlets and closely monitoring numerous media channels for public comments about a company and its products. Further, PR supports marketing by managing crisis that threaten company or product image and by  building goodwill among an organization’s target market through community, philanthropic and special programmes and events. 2.1. Effect of Research Role of PR in Management Brooms and Dozier, (1990) established that research is  basically about fact generating in relation to a problem. In evaluation research, an important activity taken by PR  practitioners is fact gathering. These facts are gathered through interviews, from library material and through informal conversation (Lesley, 1991). It also involves the use of survey techniques and firms specializing in designing and conducting opinion research. After a program is completed, the PR practitioner studies its results and evaluates the  programs planning, implementation, and effectiveness. According to Black, (1991) information gained through careful research can be used to guide planning, pre-test messages, evaluate results, and direct follow up efforts without a basis in research, PR can be a little more than a low  – level activity in support of some management decision in which very few people participate. Research is therefore a vital function in the process of PR (Black, 1991). PR is essentially an art of persuasion, and in order to influence  people, it is obviously helpful to know as much as possible about the way in which people think and the manner in which they react to particular circumstances prompting the necessity of research. 2.2. Effect of the Planning Role of PR in Management Another tool used in PR practices is planning. It provides a sense of direction, focused efforts and helps an organization to evaluate their progress Fayol (1987). It is essential in controlling. According to Cole (1979) planning is an activity which involves decisions about ends (organization aims/objectives), means (plans), conduct (policies), and results. It is an activity that takes place against the  background of the organization’s external environment and the organization’s internal strength and weaknesses. It can be long term as in strategic and corporate planning or short term as in the setting of annual departmental budgets. Cole further explained planning as a management activity, which begins by defining the aims and objectives of the   Universal Journal of Management 2(3): 116-126, 2014 119 organization. Planning is also about taking steps to agree on the resources, that is, means by which the aims and objectives may be fulfilled. Part of this process includes deciding the policies, which will guide the implementation of the plans, that is, the manner in which aims and objectives are regularly reviewed and where the progress of plans are subject to frequent review and updating in the light of results. Jefkins (1994) defines PR as “a planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding  between an organization and its publics”. In this study,  planning will be referred to as the process of goal setting and choosing the means to achieve those goals effectively and efficiently. PR effectiveness depends on good planning. Good  planning is the best way to practice preventive rather than remedial PR. Planning provides the opportunity to involve management from other areas of the organization and to ensure their cooperation and support. Planning always involves the future. Predicting aids and barriers that will exist in the future is more difficult than evaluating the existing situation, yet such predictions are necessary to determine the effects of anticipated conditions on the  programs being planned. 2.3. Effect of the Counseling Role of PR in Management Besides planning and research, counseling is also another tool PR practitioners use to determine impact of PR. It is of  prime importance to recognize that counseling is not intended to do anything to individuals; its role is to enable them to get their problems into perspective and to see what they themselves can do to solve them (Cutlip et al  ., 1985). In counseling, modern PR calls for people with a holistic view of business who can act as advisers to management on a great variety of issues. PR seeks to give continuous information to  people regarding laws, plans and achievements of organizations (Black, 1991). It tries to inform the public regarding the laws, regulations and such matters that affect daily life of the citizen as well as advising the management at all levels regarding the likely reactions of the people to  proposed laws and policies of the organizations (Puri, 1995). Counseling as a PR tool entails advising management on what needs to be done and the expected reaction towards various proposals. 2.4. Effect of Anticipation of Public Opinion in Management Anticipation of public opinion may vary and may as well  be classified under the various images that exist to include multiple, which and mirror images, among others. From the definition given by (Jefkins, 1994) in the introduction, PR is about communication management. Effective PR will ensure that the public that is important to the organization is no longer ignorant of the organizations good points, of its special strengths, achievements and the difficulties that it is meeting and have overcome. The result of this increased knowledge will be greater understanding of the organization’s problems and greater appreciation of its achievements, hence a positive public opinion. Further,  basing on anticipatory roles, PR officer’s task in this case is to identify how publics will react to particular events (Baines, 2004). PR techniques are used to reduce negative association as well as create positive ones. This is done by attempting to create understanding. PR officer’s task is to move public opinion from down-right hostility, through prejudice, apathy, and ignorance towards interest, acceptance, sympathy and ultimately knowledge. The PR officer helps the public  become more knowledgeable about the organization and its  perspective. (Howard, 1992) argues that PR strategies should aim to enhance motivation and ability to process information, that is, information that addresses concerns and clarifies misunderstanding. In general, it is evident that despite a few differences in the management of PR, its key role is establishing and maintaining mutual beneficial between an organization and its public. In conclusion, from the  preceding literature, very little seems to have been done on the application of PR principles in management and  particularly management of the police force. Many authors have made attempts to define the PR discipline, though the definitions are quite diverse. Research also seemed to have focused more on business organizations. Research done so far has focused more on application of PR in marketing and  political communication and the role played by public relations in government and nonprofit making organizations. Planning and research have been used to aid in the achievement of corporate goals. However, no mention has  been made on how counseling, research, anticipation of  public opinion and planning are applied in the police force. It is therefore necessary that research on the effect of PR  principles in the management of the police force be carried out. This will help unearth the hidden roles of PR principles in the institution and how PR can effectively serve the police force in dealing with public demonstrations, students riots, effective handling of criminals in the police cells and proper  planning of police operations. 3. Methodology The study area was in Kisumu District in Nyanza Province and targeted Kisumu Police Division (KPD). KPD is located at Kisumu Central Police station which is situated behind Imperial Hotel and opposite Coca-cola bottlers approximately 1 Km from the Central Business area. KPD comprises four (4) police stations which operate under the Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD). A cross sectional survey research design was adopted. The target  population comprised four police stations in KPD comprising of approximately 330 staff. That is, 161 staff of Kisumu central, 69 from Maseno, 80 from Kondele and 20 from Miwani police stations. Given the sensitivity of information in the police force, this study employed convenience sampling for the staff and persons in police  120 The Impact of Public Relations Principles in the Strategic Management of the Police Force in Kenya custody where the respondents were chosen according to their availability. The study used majorly the primary data which was collected using two structured and unstructured questionnaires issued to the members of the police force in KPD. Quantitative data was analyzed using Statistical Packages for Social Sciences in which descriptive statistics was used to arrive at frequency distributions. Qualitative data was analyzed by coding and organizing data into themes and categories then evaluating the usefulness of information for answering research questions. Data was presented in the form of frequency tables and bar charts to enable the researcher and other readers to be able to compare the  popularity of the individual principles of PR. 4. Discussion In determining the effect of PR principles in KPD it was found important to find out the background information of the respondents. According to the findings the age distribution of the respondents according to sex was as illustrated in Table 1 below. Table 1. Distribution of Respondents according to Age and Sex Age Male Female TOTAL 20-30 Years 18 (10.84%) 16 (9.63) 34 (20.48%) 30-40 Years 33 (19.87%) 23 (13.85) 56 (33.74% 40-50 Years 32 (19.27%) 18 (10.84%) 50 (30.12%) Above 50 Years 17 (10.24%) 9 (5.42%) 26 (15.66%) TOTAL 100 (60.24%) 66 (39.76%) 166 (100%) Source: Respondents scores, 2008  Table 1 above shows majority 60.24% (n=100) of the respondents were male while 39.76% (n=66) were female. This depicts majority of the staff in KPD are males. The findings also revealed that majority of 19.87% (n=33) of the respondents were Males aged between 30 – 40 years of age while almost a similar proportion 19.27 (n=32) being males aged between 40 to 50 years. It was also worth noting that most female respondents i.e 13.85% (n=23) of the total number of respondents were aged between 30 to 40 years of age. This depicts that majority of the staff in KPD were middle aged thus had a potential to serve the police force for a long period. A significant proportion 20.84% (n=34) represent respondents who were aged between 20 to 30 years. This represents a large battalion of police officers who have been recruited into the police force. The differential population in the number of male and female police officers could be attributed to the fact that there still exists a gap between educated boys and girls that still manifests itself in the workplace. It was further considered essential to establish the level of training and education of the respondents. This was so as to establish a correlation between the general level of education and the effect of PR principles. The findings to the respondent’s level of education were as illustrated in Figure 1 below. Source: Respondents scores, 2008  Figure 1.  Highest Level of Education Figure 1 above illustrates that majority (52.41%, n=87) of the staff had attained certificate from the police force training college while 25.91% (n=43) had attained college diploma. A considerable proportion (21.68%, n=36) of the KPD staff were either holders of bachelors degree (10.24%, n=17) or a masters degree (11.44%, n=19). This shows that a significant proportion of the KPD staff were well educated. Looking at the number of years KPD staff had served in the force. Majority (51.20%, n=85) had served for more than 10 years, (21.08%, n=35) had served for 7-10 years and only (8.43%, n=14) had worked for 1-3 years. This implies that most of the KPD staff, including certificate and diploma holders, had served for more than 10 years in the police force thus are more experienced on the PR in the force. 4.1. Effect of the Research role of PR on the Management of KPD As stated in the literature review, research is a vital function in the PR process. Research makes PR “a little more than a low-level activity in support of some management decisions in which very few people participate.” In order for the research role of PR to be effective in KPD, research has to be continuously carried out. It was therefore sought to establish the various research instruments used by PR in KPD and the findings were as illustrated in Figure 2 below. Source: Respondents scores, 2008 Figure 2 . Research Instruments used by PR in KPD Figure 2 above illustrates that majority of the respondents (48%) used radio/TV as the research instrument in PR, 23% used print media while 12% used library material. The use of radio/TV as the preferred research instrument could be attributed to the proliferation of communication technology
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