Effectiveness Of Communication Strategies Used By The Public Relations Practitioners In The Fight Against Corruption

Public Relations And Communication Project Topics

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Public relations is an important subsystem of an organisation and the effective practice of public relations is integrally bound to the health of an organisation. As such, it provides the avenue for the organisation to effectively monitor, interact and react with other key groups within the organisational environment.

In an attempt to establish the effectiveness of PR strategies against corruption,  Zambia Police service public relations office is tasked with the responsibility to sensitise and educate its members and the general public about the causes and effects of corruption.

The general objective was to establish the effectiveness of PR against corruption.

The ricket scale was used in order to extract required data.

A sample population of 100 was selected from on the sample size of 10% which is 10 according to black: 2004.

The researcher used a descriptive approach because it uses both approaches qualitative and quantitative; therefore data was collected through an in-depth interview and questionnaires.

It is also important to note that the questionnaire and the interview schedule were pre-tested before the actual data collection

The data that was collected using semi-structured questionnaire was checked for uniformity, consistency and accuracy.

The limitation was that it took time retrieve the questionnaires because of other commitments of respondents.



1.0         INTRODUCTION


Public relations is an important subsystem of an organisation and the effective practice of public relations is integrally bound to the health of an organisation. As such, it provides the avenue for the organisation to effectively monitor, interact and react with other key groups within the organisational environment. (Tenchs and Yeoman, 2006). Public relations is thought of as the communication and action on the part of an organisation that supports development and maintenance of mutually beneficial relationships between the organisation and the groups with which it is interdependent. The above, therefore, shows that public relations, as a subsystem within an organisation, plays an important, if not integral, part in ensuring that organisations meet their overall aims and objectives. Many organisations do not show public relations as an independent role. This view may be because of the multiple functions of public relations from events organising to marketing or service management. (Davis, 2004). However, public relations can contribute to the success of every function of the business, whether it be staff relations, marketing or even finance. No activity conducted by any organisation can succeed if understanding is lacking, which is why public relations relates to the total communication of any organisation, inside and outside.(Naidoo, 2007)

Public relations has been described as synonymous to marketing. Traditionally, public relations and marketing functioned separately and maintained separate departments in most organisations. However, the functions of public relations are becoming more confusing as the initial scanning of the environment has revealed that certain organisations have merged public relations with marketing. Whilst some organisations may view public relations as a separate entity, as opposed to marketing, others see these two functions as falling under a common umbrella. It is, therefore, evident that the boundaries between public relations and marketing are very blurred. As a result, in some organisations, one will not find public relations or a marketing department but rather a communications department that is responsible for both public relations and marketing functions.

Cutlip, Center, and Broom, 2000) maintain that since so many factors influence how public relations begins in organisations, public relations’ departments, in some organisations, have large numbers of staff and generous budgets even though the original motivations for their functions have long been forgotten and their mission is not clearly defined. Conversely, many, if not most, organisations reorganise the public relations functions, reduce the number of staff and try to do more with fewer people.

Even practitioners disagree about what is the best structure and place for their functions in various types of organisations. Public relations are, in essence, communications. It functions as a subsystem within an organisation and, furthermore, given recognition, can play a vital role in the management of an organisation.

Public relations management function helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and co-operation between an organisation and it’s publics; involves the management of problems or issues; helps management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinions; defines and emphasises the responsibility of management.

public interest; helps management to keep abreast of and effectively utilise change; serves as an early warning system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and ethical communication techniques as its principal tools

The above definition contains overall goals, processes and tasks of public relations and positions the discipline firmly within the organisation, as a management role. This definition stresses public relations as a communication and management function aimed at establishing and maintaining a positive image amongst groups on which an organisation depends in order to achieve its mission.

Public relations in organisations have evolved tremendously. Some organisations have opened their doors for public relations professionals. However, it seems that organisations still battle to define the functions and the role of public relations, let alone positioning the discipline. It is evident that public relations’ activities differ within the various organisations. his study, therefore, seeks to investigate the role that public relations plays within the Zambia Police Service. (Davis, 2004).

Davis (2004:202) argues that the public relations industry simply lacks credibility; people just do not take the industry seriously. Furthermore, the discipline might be regarded dispassionately as being positively beneficial to society but also questions why organisations are reluctant to let public relations’ professionals “beat their own collective drum”. Public relations deserves to be taken seriously by organisations, but, most times, it is assigned solely ‘low end’ tasks, given roles that invariably underestimate its value. Therefore, the home for public relations functions is still not clear in most such as the Zambia Police Service.

Henslowe (2003:1-2) postulates that the public relations discipline is often either misunderstood or deliberately misinterpreted so that it is used in a pejorative way, associating it with propaganda, ‘economy of the truth’ or evasion. Most organisations disregard public relations as an integral part of the organisation. In most instances, organisations only acknowledge the importance of public relations when things go wrong and in times of a crisis. Consequently, public relations practitioners salvage the situation by apologising to the organisations’ publics, assuring them that all will be dealt with and that the crisis is under control. Stroh (2007:1) maintains that it is important to recognise that many cross-disciplines have been integrated to build theory for public relations in terms of relationships and relationship management. This postulation reinforces the view that public relations are a communications process. However, problems are often encountered with organisations not understanding the difference between public relations as a discipline on its own, and public relations as a marketing tool. Stroh (2007:1) emphasizes that to solve these problems, organisations need to recognise and acknowledge and start from the premise that public relations is the function that manages the communication.

An organisation and its publics in order to build and enhance healthy relationships to the benefit of all parties involved.

Most organisations have given little or no attention to public relations while some organisations do not understand the role that public relations plays within an organisation and, therefore, have failed to position the discipline. his study, therefore, sets out to seek and analyse the role that public relations plays within organisations.

 1.1       BACKGROUND

The Zambia Police is a constituted body of persons empowered by the state to protect life and property, enforce the law, and limit civil disorder. Their powers include the legitimized use of force. The term is most commonly associated with police services of a state that are authorized to exercise the police power of that state within a defined legal or territorial area of responsibility. Police services are often defined as being separate from military or other organizations involved in the defense of the state against foreign aggressors; however, gendarmerie are military units charged with civil policing. (Zambia Police Newsletter, 2013).                       

The Police Service is a public sector service, meaning they get paid by the taxpayer. The Zambia Police Service manages 14 divisions and 3 Units namely Airport, Tazara, Protective Unit, Paramilitary, State House, Police College, School of Public Order Maintenance (SPOM), Southern, Eastern, Western, Northern, Central, North-Western, Luapula, Copperbelt and Lusaka with the newly formed division called Muchinga. In all these divisions they are departments such as administration, criminal investigations, operations, victim support, intellectual property unit, front desk and motor traffic department which is our many research focus.( Zambia Police Establishment. 2013)

In all these divisions of the Zambia Police Service, the Public relation department is represented in order to continuously monitor and maintain the organization relationship between the general public and its members in avoiding bad vices such as corruption which may result in tarnishing the image and reputation of the Zambia Police service as a whole.

In some cases, Zambia Police public service are assigned to work "undercover", where they conceal their police identity to investigate crimes, such as organized crime or narcotics crime, that are unsolvable by other means. In some cases this type of policing shares aspects with espionage. In many nations, criminal procedure law has been developed to regulate officers' discretion, so that they do not arbitrarily or unjustly exercise their powers of arrest, search and seizure, and use of force.(Zambia Police Annual report. 2014).                          

The establishment of uniformed, armed, and organized police as a response to the problems of social control in modern societies creates a number of problems, such as the political neutralization of the police, organizational creation and maintenance of discipline and commitment to legality in behavior toward the citizen, and development of efficient and impartial enforcement of the law. The means evolved to solve some of these problems may have negative results on others. Moreover, the control, organization, and behavior of the police will reflect the differences in civic culture between countries: for example, differences in the degree of consensus about the values represented in law and in the institutional supports for police authority, on the one hand, and traditions of police restraint on the other.

Zambia Police has been regarded as a less paid but it provides a meaningful lifetime careers. It is under these circumstances that the necessary personal commitment to the service and the necessary occupational morale are most likely to develop. The state as an abstract entity has not been regarded with the special mystique of some countries, nor has it been invested with the special symbolic aura of the English crown. (ACC Newsletter, 2011). In addition, the public service occupations in general have not been of the highest prestige; this is generally the case in market-oriented societies which are traditionally devoted to the pursuit of private fortune. Judging from recent research, however, there has been considerable improvement in this respect since the early 1900s, and this trend can be expected to continue. In addition, the increasing concentration of population in large cities has allowed the development of larger departments with the possibility of more rigorous selection of personnel, better training, and the development of a more self-consciously professional administrative corps among Zambia Police senior commanders. (Janowitz et al. 1958)                                                              

Under conditions of increased professionalization of the Zambia Police, the problems of internal discipline, efficiency, honesty, and respect for formal legality are increasingly being solved. Their solution, however, raises other difficulties related to police-community relations, on the one hand, and new determinants of discretionary decision making, on the other.( Z P News Magazine, 2012)

Where the police, have been able to rely on long-standing patterns of deference to the symbols of legitimate authority, coupled with a long-established cultural homogeneity and crowned symbolically by the monarchy, relations between police and populace reflect the gradual development of customary forms of behavior as well as formal legal restrictions on police and populace alike. Under such circumstances, police authority is supported by the institutional environment, such as the law courts, as well as by popular attitude and social customs.(Zambia Police Annual Report. 2014, p10).



Zambia Police Service is rated as one of the highest corrupt public institutions in Zambia. The problem is to find out strategies public relations play in the Zambia Police service towards corruption and also investigate the effects it has caused to the general public. (Transparency International Report, 2015).  In nearly all Zambia police departments such as motor vehicle theft clearance (INTERPOL), Victim Support Unit (VSU), Intellectual Property Unit, Anti piracy, front desk inquires and Motor Traffic Unit, cases of corruption has been

Corruption still remains the order of the day in the Zambia police service. However, the ZPS has embarked on fighting corruption through various strategies which include awareness creation through the PR Unit. As to whether these strategies are yielding positive results is the question which this research is trying to establish.


General objective;

·         To determine the effectiveness of the communication strategies used by PR in the fight against Corruption.

Specific Objectives;

·         To find out the channels of communication used by PR practioners in Zambia Police Service.

·         To establish the impacts this communication strategies have in the fight against Corruption.

·         To identify the communication strategies used by the PR in the fight against Corruption.



Ø  What are the communication strategies used by PR practitioners in the fight against corruption?

Ø  Are there any communication strategies especially meant to address corruption issues?

Ø  How are the strategies implemented?

Ø  Are the strategies helping to reduce corruption?


The limitations that are likely to be incurred during this study may be due to financial sources since am self sponsored, transport to visit police stations.                                                  

Furthermore, Public relations office at the police service headquarters is busy environment which rarely spare time to discuss matters pertaining to corruption and they may also fear to fully speak out due to victimization.



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Effectiveness Of Communication Strategies Used By The Public Relations Practitioners In The Fight Against Corruption