THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICES IN THE OIL SECTOR A CASE STUDY OF AFRICAN PETROLEUM'S PLC

(Marketing)

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICES IN THE OIL SECTOR

A CASE STUDY OF AFRICAN PETROLEUM’S PLC

Abstract

          African petroleum Plc, Enugu, a marketer of petroleum products and chemicals know that public support and good will as well as good corporate image are very important for business success. Tends to be influenced by their publics which includes, its staff, shareholders, customers and of course members of the press.

          The company is actually very much interested to know its public problem areas and opportunities with the aim to improving the organization’s overall performance do not know what their public thinks about African petroleum public Relations programmes and quality of services of the organization to its publics.

Be as it may, the researcher therefore decided to embark on the study;

          The objectives of the study are:

1.           To determine the extent of AP’S public Relations messages accessibility to their publics.

2.           To determine whether AP’S public relations practices influence the opinion of their publics.

3.           To find out if the largest audience of the African petroleum consider their public relations practices a adequate.

4.           To ascertain whether the AP’S public relations department is rated high in term of its efficiency.

5.           To know whether the right public relations media were being used.

This study is actually intend to cover African petroleum plc and their public in Enugu State. When asked the coverage in short, all aspects of the study as indicated in the study objectives were concerned.

Certain Survey was undertaken during which some members of the four major publics of African petroleum were interviewed and ideas that got from them really helped in pursuing certain areas of enquiring and to generate the hypothesis. The approach was purely empirical.

Relevant data based on the scope of the study were collected through desk research and field survey with structured questionnaire as the main instrument administered to two hundred and fifty (250) respondents comprising forty African petroleum staff, sixty share holders, one hundred and twenty customers and thirty members of the press.

The questionnaire was highly structured and open – ended where necessary. The questions and the response were very standard to facilitate comparison of responses and to secure good control of the questions.

Further, the questionnaires were also designed to secure information from the African petroleum’s public relations message and media, their public relations department, and programmes are quality of their overall services. Appropriate answers were checked and public relations practices and quality of AP’s overall services rated.

The results are as follows:

1.           The degrees of AP’s Relations accessibility to their public is satisfactory as majority of the respondents reported having easy access to African petroleum’s public Relations messages at regular bases.

2.           The Public Relations practice of African petroleum influences the opinion of their public. Reason being that most of the respondents said that AP’s Public Relations messages are persuasive and convincing thereby influence their opinion as regards the AP’s programmes and procedures.

3.           The right Public Relations media were often used as greater proportion of the respondents supported this claim and indicated that AP uses media combination which are familiar to target audience to achieve the desired effect.

4.           The Public Relations Department of African petroleum is rated high as regards its efficiency since majority of the respondents reported this end stated that the department plan and execute series of public relations programmes which enhances mutual understanding, public acceptance and corporate good image and good will,

5.           The publics do not consider African petroleum’s public relations practices as adequate as majority of the respondent reported, saying that the department should put more effort to implore some other issues requiring public relations attentions and increase public relations Enlightment programmes to reach the remote areas where the AP’s target audience resides.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on the above Petroleum’s Public Relations message media and quality of their overall services are satisfactory through their mobilization programmes and enlightment campaign needs more efforts. We should know that there is no public relations effort is perfect, meaning that the PR’s effort need to be empowered upon and the time. To avoid certain unforeseen circumstances, crisis and conflicts, there should be a constant review of the organisations.  Public reactions practices coming to know its effectiveness and areas of improvement to correspond with the dynamic business environment.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE:   INTRODUCTION

1.1     Background to the study

1.2        Statement of problem

1.3        Objective of the study

1.4        Formulation of Hypothesis

1.5        Significant of the study

1.6        Limitation of the study

CHAPTER TWO:   LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1     What is public relations

2.2        Role of public relations executives in commercial out fit

2.3        Strategy and scope of public relations programmes

2.4        Frame work of public relations programme

2.5        Importance of public relations in all oil industry.

CHAPTER THREE:                  SCOPE, RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY

3.1     Scope of the study

3.2        Research methodology

3.3        Structuring the instrument/protesting

3.4        Determination of sample size

3.5        Sampling procedure

3.6        Method of Analysis

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS

4.1     Part A. a table of responses to sex

4.2        Indication of free access to AP’s public

 

CHAPTER FIVE:   SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1     Summary

5.2     Summary of findings

5.3     Other findings

5.4     Conclusions

5.6     Recommendations

Bibliography

Appendix 1

Appendix 11

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

This present dispensation, a lot of companies for production or distribution of a particular type of production or service and its consequent week to week competition among companies, it has become necessary for such organization to established at least good will and mutual understanding with their various publics if actually the tend to succeed.

          Though the success of such companies does not depend on product or service quality, neither does it hing on advertising alone, nor on good salesmanship, responsible allocation of fund, but the success of any company depend most often on how well the company has created mutual understanding among her publics.

          Jefkins (1988;9) he pointed out that negative situation could be converted into positive achievement through awareness and understanding. Based on this, Jefkins expects that company to use public relations to achieve sympathy where there is hostility, acceptance where there is prejudice, develop interest where there is apathy and communication to achieve knowledge where there is ignorance.

          There is now need for a well-organized public relations practice. At this peripheral cutlip, conter and Broom (1985:4) in their conceptual definition states that “Public Relations is the management function that identifies, establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationship between a company and the various public on whom its success or failure depends”.

          Companies achieve this mutually, beneficial relationship by creating awareness maintaining regular communication network, evaluating public attitude identifying their policies and programme with the public interest and executing a programme of action to earn public understanding and support.

          Public relation really involves contracting the relevant target publics and convincing them of the benefits of a particular argument; to support specific issues and causes; to accept companies proposals and public orientation. Public relations complements marketing balance when introduced early in marketing plan can make a telling difference in product success (Ajala: 1993:22).

          Meanwhile, the public relations practice took its origin or connected with the first and second world wars in the United States of America (USA). Further, this public relations practice also started in Nigeria around the 2nd world war (Ajala: 1993:2).

          During the Second World War there was the need for European government to set up an information office where different message concerning the war situations and other general economic situation could be disseminated. The information office later known as public relations office was initially aimed at publicizing colonial war with certain explanation why they should join the war; that was the view of Adebolar (1992;19) it also assisted the government in its activities which require propaganda.

          However, precisely, the modern public relations in Nigeria took off in earliest 1948 when the colonial government then set up a public relations department that had offices in Lagos, Ibadan Kaduna, and Enugu. An expert in public relations job; Mr. Harold cooper was the director of public relations in Nigeria, and of course he successfully tried to modernize government information service and initiated the policy of interpretation of government policies to the public (people). No sooner did government recognized the importance of public in the discharge of her legitimate functions than the private sectors solicited for a piece of this action. In 1949, the United African Company (UAC) now known as United African Company of Nigeria (UACN) came up with the first public relations outfit in these sectors. That outfit crowed from an information department in the United African Company network into a renamed public relations department in 1960. The company then describes public relations as “a continuous effort on behalf of the company to promote the best possible understanding of its policies, activities and social attitude among those that can influence its development”.

          Shell British Petroleum came up with her own public relations in 1969. The public relations activities of shell embrace all activities relating to relations between the company, one hand, and the government of the federation, local communities the press commercial organisations, educational institutions and the other sector of the public on the hand”. Just like the United African Company of Nigeria (UACN) shell’s aim for fostering these relations was to ensure constant existence of unobstructed channel of communication with these public.

          Thus, creating an atmosphere of understanding and cooperation. With the oil boom, came professional expression of communications and public relations men and women to fulfill the communications needs of industries, institutions, organization and the religious groups. As we enter into the third decade, people’s value started changing. As people’s needs charges, there was the need for public relations as a management tools increased especially from June 1990 when federal military Government backed up the profession with an enabling decree referred to as Nigerian institute of public relations decree No. 16 of 1990 (NIPR: 1954:35).

1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

            The history of African petroleum Plc date back to 1954 when the then British petroleum BP company Limited, brought up the assets of Atlantic refining company on the West African coast ten years later (1964) that company was incorporated in Nigeria as British petroleum of Nigeria Limited which of course is a subsidiary of the world wide British petroleum Group that marketed petroleum product throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In 1978, the company changed from a private company to a public company, when forty percent (40%) of the shares were sold to Nigerian citizens in compliance with provisions of the Nigeria Enterprises promotions degree of 1977. On the 31st July 1979, the Federal Government acquired the sixty percent (60%) share in British petroleum (BP) Limited, just to making the company wholly Nigeria affair. As a result, the name of the company had to change African (AP) Limited which was in November 1979.

          Accordingly, 20% of the Federal Governments 60% shares in African petroleum were offered to the public in March 1989 in fulfillment of its privatization policy. The share were seven times over subscribed during the exercise, thus increasing the number of share holders from about fifty thousand to one hundred and sixty thousand share holders. The company’s currently paid up share capital of N 86.4M which of course is the largest in the country.

          As a marketer of refined petroleum in Nigeria, African Petroleum (AP) procures and distributes petroleum products like petrol (PMS), Diesel oil  (AGO), Household kerosene or Domestic petroleum kerosene (HHK/DPK), Low poor fuel oil (LPFO), Liquefied petroleum Gas (LPG), fuel oil, Jet-A-1 (Aviation furbric kerosene) etc the company also manufacture and market a wide range of lubricants, insecticide and chemicals. This company’s operation marketing areas are Kaduna, Kano, Port – Harcourt, Warri.

          African petroleum plc has its head office in Lagos. The main source of its products is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) through its strategic network depots and refineries. As contained in its Diary (1998) African petroleum is a world class integrated petroleum company where outstanding and dedicated people supported by superior technology deliver exceptional benefits to its shareholders”. Their mission is to be an unmovative and customer oriented, provider of quality petroleum and related products and services”.

ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE OF AFRICAN PETROLEUM PLC

          African petroleum, just like every other big organization shows various departments that made up this African petroleum plc. Functions of each department are clearly defined though has some element of inter- relationship as well as inter dependent, meaning that no one department functions very well in isolation to the other departments.

          In the hierarchical structure, we have at the top Managing Director who is the Chief Executive. We have two Executive Directors for marketing and services. The Managing Director or the Chief executive co-ordinates these two main divisions, formulates key policies within the scope of the general policies as was laid down by Board of Director of the company.

          The Chief Executive is directly in control of general management such chief internal Auditor (CIA) manager, management information (MMI) and the company secretary.

These three departments are under the service division, personnel and administration, real estate and Engineering. It should be noted that each of these department is headed by a manager who is answerable to the Executive Division is responsible for the sales and marketing of the companies product. We have three department headed by department manager. Such departments are commercial sales, chemical marketing and retails sales. The Public Relations unit of the company is under this division. The Public Relations manager reports to the executive Director (marketing). The other departments like lubricant, supply and Distribution, finance and Accounts all reports directly to the three Directors.

1.3  STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS:

          African petroleum plc (formerly British petroleum) that has been in existence since 1954 is now one of the major marketers of petroleum products in Nigeria. African petroleum plc operates few major marketing areas in Kaduna, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt. It has depots at (Apapa) Lagos, Jos and Kano but its main source of Petroleum Company (NNPC). Presently the company entered into the marketing of chemical, real estate development and manufacturing of insecticides.

          Coming to the ever-increasing number of competition and continued fuel scarcity in the country, the company does not fold its arms watching rather she continues to diversify and expand on its activities. The reason being that should the company fail to satisfy her numerous publics by constant supply of product as at when needed and of course quality product, the publics negative reaction would affect its profit making ability and in respect affect the nations economy. In the effort of improving the quality of its produce and services, as regards achieving public commendations, goodwill and support, cannot in the actual sense understand how actually the publics feel about their company’s quality of services and their public relations programmes.

          This research work shall do justice to address certain problems like

a.            How far is the public relations messages of AP plc accessible to her publics.

b.           Were the right public relations media often use?

c.            Is the public relations department of AP rated high by her publics in terms of its efficiency?

d.           Does the public relations practices of African petroleum plc influence the opinion of their public in favour of AP.

e.            Do the public relations consider African petroleum plc’s public relations practice as adequate?

1.4     PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of public relations practices of African Petroleum Plc.

1.5      OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

     The objective of the study are as follows:

a.      To ascertain the extent of African petroleum’s public messages accessibility to their public.

b.     To know whether the right public relations media were often used.

c.      To determine whether AP’s public relations practice influence the opinion of their publics in favour of African petroleum.

d.     To ascertain whether African petroleum’s public relations department is rated high in terms of its efficiency.

e.      To find out if the publics of AP plc consider their public relations practices as adequate.

1.6     FORMULATION OF HYPOTHESIS

H01: The degree of African petroleum’s public relations messages accessibility to her public is unsatisfactory.

H02:  The right public relations media were not often used.

H03:   The public relation practice of African petroleum does not influence the opinion of their public in favour of African petroleum.

H04:   The public relations department of AP is not rated high in terms of its efficiency.

H05:   The public considers African petroleum’s public relations practice as adequate.

1.7     SIGNIFICANT OF THE STUDY

          Coming to the diversification and expansion of its activities, the current crisis and the ever-increasing competition among oil marketing companies. African petroleum plc are concerned with generating marketing information which all will help them to achieve a favourable market share and maintain its profit marketing ability if really wants to remain in business.

          The researcher may after some recommendation that will help to ensure an adequate and effective use of public relations as a tool for business promotions.

          Moreover, this work will also serve as a working tool for Chief Executives and managers in the oil marketing sectors; this piece of work will actually form a basis for further development and as well contribute to the existing knowledge in the area of oil marketing.

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