1.1 Background of the Study
Corporate image is the perception of corporation, an institution or government which exists in the minds of its various publics. According to R. Trench (2009:3), corporate images typically can be fashioned fairly quickly through specific actions and well-conceived communication programs, whereas reputations evolve over time as a result of consistent performance and can be reinforced through corporate communication.
Every corporation, government or institution must therefore be concerned about its image among its important constituents or stakeholders because there is a link between an individual’s image of an organization and that person’s behaviour towards the organization.
It is against this background that the researcher sets out to investigate and analyse the perception which exists in the minds of the citizenry of Enugu State about the state government and the efforts of the government in building image, reputation and identity for itself vis-à-vis the role of the state-owned media organ (ESBS) in reinforcing this image.
In pursuance of this research project, 300 respondents were selected through the purposive sampling techniques from among the state government employees, private entrepreneurs and players in the financial institutions
A 24 item questionnaire was administered on the selected sample. Their responses, which were computed and analysed in simple percentages and frequency scores, were presented in tables. The findings showed that the cross section of the people tend to perceive the government of the state positively following largely from the manner the ESBS portrays the policies, programmes, projects and activities of government in its news and programmes both in radio and TV and not necessarily from their practical experiences or observations.
The objective of any government, institution or organization in managing its corporate image is to communicate its identity to those important constituents/stakeholders in a manner that is positive and accurate. And according to A. Theaker (2008:11), this process involves fashioning a positive identity and communicating this identity to significant audiences in such a way that they have a favourable view of the government or organization.
Enugu State government has shown enormous concern about its image among its important stakeholders as typified in the various public relations efforts and programs and strategies being employed by the government to build and manage its corporate image. Most of these efforts tend not to make the desired impact in projecting certain images without the effective use of the mass media especially the radio and TV which posses enormous powers due to their reach and spontaneity capabilities.
The Enugu State broadcasting service ESBS has from one period to the other served various roles for the owner-government depending on the system of government in place. The various military governments utilized the media organ as a coercion tool whereas the difference democratic governments including the current one tend to prescribe a different role bothering on image building and management. As observed by Ekoh C. (2006:1) mass media systems tend to differ greatly from one society to another around the world and from one period to another in the political history of a particular nation because as the mass media must exist within a particular economic system with all its realities so must they cope with the different political systems at different periods. The case of the ESBS has never been different.
The powers of radio and TV in building images for the government cannot be over emphasized when one considers that both can transmit audio and audio-visual signals for simultaneous reception by a heterogeneous mass audience scattered across vast territorial boundaries. They also have the power to readily break language barriers, hence their prominent role in image building and management. This is buttressed by the views of Van Riel (1995:6) corporate identity mix includes symbolism communication and behaviour, all of which can effectively be transmitted through radio and television to make better impact on the behaviour and attitudes of the audience.
The Enugu State Broadcasting Service which was commissioned in October 1, 1960 as Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting corporation (ENBC) has served several governments at different periods. These governments no doubt prescribed different roles for the organ depending on the prevailing circumstances and needs at their times.
According to Okenwa .S. (1998:3) the motives for the establishment of the broadcast media include among other public interest motive, power motive, profit-making motive and knowledge motive. These motives are functionally gratifiable through programme spread covering various spheres of human endeavours. The role of any given media organ including ESBS therefore transcends mere information/news gathering and dissemination. Depending on the role prescribed for it by its owner and the circumstances of its ownership, the ESBS tends to go further to sell the government intrinsic and extrinsic ideas, policies and programme so as to position it to attract favourable public perception.
This therefore goes to explain why various programmes such as news, commentaries, mobilization, propaganda, cultural, sports, music, drama etc are allotted different time belts in the schedule of the ESBS. These programmes are usually designed to portray the government of the state as stable, peaceful sensitive, egalitarian and service-oriented.
The Enugu State government as the owner of ESBS tends to use the organ, in addition to the primary roles of informing, educating and entertaining the masses, as a veritable tool to shape the opinions, knowledge and behaviour of the masses in a particular direction. The organ serves in the area of social engineering and propagation of the state government’s particular socio-economic and political perspective as well as the motivation of the masses to act on that perspective.
The media through sustained exposure of the policies, and programmes of state government and the activities of its core institutions can influence the views and opinions of the people toward the state government and its core institutions. This is corroborated by Nyamnjoh (2005:17),who stated that government of the states understand first hard the powers of the media to propagate a particular political perspective and motivate the masses to act on that perspective, adding that states use the media as a tool of national development.
The ESBS in its efforts to play its traditional role of informing, educating and entertaining the masses tends to deliberately utilize its editorial style, programming and news content management to mobilize positive views and opinions towards the state government, its programmes, policies and core institutions. It is the major omnibus instrument used by the state government to achieve social cohesion, and public goodwill, support and understanding of its programmes and policies. This is in line with the views of Ekoh et al (1999:1) who argued that radio and television are the main media for the promotion of social pluralism through cross-fertilisation of ideas, goodwill and consensus generation for policy-legitimacy.
With ever-changing dynamics of governance and increasing involvement of the citizenry in governance, the need to engender positive and favourable views and opinions about government in the masses cannot be over-emphasized. The Enugu State seems to be conscious of this as shown in its various public relations strategies in use in its various core institutions, local councils as well as its efforts in sustaining its corporate communication. The government seems also to demonstrate this consciousness in the manners it uses its only media organ and other media organs outside the state in propagating its programmes, policies and activities.
The issues which form the basis of this study therefore are:
- Whether the Enugu state government seems in anyway desirous of building and sustaining a positive corporate image, identity and reputation for itself.
- How does the ESBS as a broadcast media organ owned and controlled by the state play a role in the building and sustenance of the corporate image, reputation and identity of the state government or put succinctly, how does it influence the opinions, views and perception of the citizenry/stakeholder’s about the Enugu state government.
1.2 THE STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The need for a state government like any other government, institution or corporation to build and sustain a positive and favourable corporate image, reputation and identity cannot be over emphasized. The Enugu State government tends to be conscious of this need hence some of the public relations strategies it put has in place in its core institutions, local government councils with the overall objective of building and reinforcing a positive and favourable image that will depict stability, efficient service delivery, peaceful, secured and sensitive government.
A negative and unfavorable corporate image of a state undoubtedly can negatively affect its revenue base as the citizens will not be favourably disposed to tax payment. Here the internally generated revenue of such state cannot help but fall. The security of the citizens as well as that of the government infrastructure will be adversely affected
The work will also examine how the other media organs operating outside Enugu State interact with ESBS and subsequently influence the image of government of the state.
The issues which form the basis of this study therefore are:
- Whether the state government is in any way desirous of building a positive corporate image identity and reputation for itself.
- How does the ESBS as a broadcast media organ in the state play its role in building and reinforcing the corporate image, reputation and identity of the state government or how it influences the opinions, views and perception of the citizenry towards the Enugu State Government.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The Mass Media generally perform numerous roles such as providing information, education and entertainment. But some of these roles are more prominent than the others depending on the motive for the establishment of a particular organ.
The objective of this study is therefore:
- To find out if the Enugu State government has any deliberate and sustainable policy/approach to building and management of its corporate image, reputation and identity.
- To find out if the house style of ESBS in news management and general programming influence the citizens perception, opinions and views of Enugu State.
- To find out if in anyway the citizens views, opinions or the perceptions of Enugu State government influence their attitudes, understanding and acceptance of the state government policies and programmes.
- To suggest possible means of improving the image of the state government through effective media mix.
1.4 Research Question
The following research questions are designed for this study:
- Does ESBS in their effort to build the image of the state government influence the citizens on government policies and ideologies?
- Does government of Enugu State guarantee ESBS media practitioners the same level of autonomy and independence in the discharge of their duties?
- Does the provision of equipment and refurbishing of the state media facilities and abundant information by the government simply translates to effective and equitable distribution of information to the masses?
- Do the relationship between ESBS and government as state mouth organ allow the citizens equal level of access to the media for the purposes of feedback?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Based on the research problems and questions raised in this study, and an understanding of the role of ESBS as the image building of the Enugu State Government as well as the existing research literature on the corporate image, identity building and the role of ESBS to Enugu state government on public information and communication, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that:
- ESBS in their effort to build the image of the state government do not influence the citizens on government policies and ideologies.
- Government of Enugu State do not guarantee ESBS media practitioners the same level of autonomy and independence in the discharge of their duties.
- The provision of equipment and refurbishing of the state media facilities and abundant information by government do not translate to effective and equitable distribution of information to the masses.
- The relationship between ESBS and government as state mouth organ do not allow the citizens equal level of access to the media for the purposes of feedback.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The significance of the study rests on the fact that a thorough knowledge of the citizen’s perceptions, views or opinions of the state will help the state government appreciate how acceptable its programmes and projects are to the citizenry. It is also designed to help the core government institutions and functionaries strive to build positive corporate image for themselves and the government by improving on their service delivery efforts to elicit favourable public opinions perceptions and views.
The study is also an attempt to explore how a government owned media outfit can effectively serve in building the image and reputation of its owner government without compromising objectivity and effectiveness in programming Ndu (1990:93:103) rendered credence to this position when he enumerated the benefits of an effective communication system as including coordination of national economic development, supporting market exchange and changing the perception and attitudes of society to development.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
It is pertinent to limit this study as it concerns audience perception in ESBS coverage of events on government polices, projects and efforts of the state government in building image reputation and identity for itself.
The researcher, being in full time employment was compelled by time factor to limit the sample size of the population for study as a above mentioned. However the result of the research was not affected.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The terms use in this course are defined as follows
Media Operations: This refers to the ability of the media to effectively hold the government accountable to the people.
Corporate Identity: This is a corporations ideal manner presented to their publics.
Image: This is the public opinion people have of a person, organization, product etc or the way a person, organization seems to be to the public.
Reputation: This is opinion that people have about someone or something because of what has happened in the past.
Role: This is a way in which someone or an organization is involved in an activity or situation and how much influence they have on it.
Appadoral (1978), states that government may define as agency or machinery through which the state is formulated, expressed and realized. Properly speaking therefore, the term includes the sum total of the legislative, executive and judicial bodies in the state whether of the central or local government of all those who are engaged in marking administering and interpreting laws.
Longman Contemporary English Dictionary (2005: 805)states that identity building is the qualities and attitudes that a person or group of people have that make them different form other people in the process or business of building things .