1.1 Background To The Study
The increase in competition among organizations with similar product and service and the free market environment prompted the need for public relation activities to engage members of the public who could be prospective customers or exiting customers in a mutual relationship devoid of cheat and undue advantage. According to Igben (1997), the most celebrated definition of public relations a put by British, Institute of Public Relations states that
Public Relations practice is the deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public.
The standpoint from this definitions that public relation is a predetermine strategies to establish, maintain and continues understanding between two parties depending on each other for survival.
The practice of public relations which is on image projection uses effective channels of communication to engage the publics in a cordial relations officer having huge task to maintain good image of the organization ensures that since there are several media outlets, transforming clearly, with increased advancement in technology, he is left with task of maintaining credibility and mutual relationship with the appropriate media so as to reach their public not just effectively but also positively. This is the aspect of media relations. According to Igben (1997), media relations is a persistent interaction with media communication in order to maintain exchange of news worthy confidences and sustained public information
Baran (2004) observes that media relation requires that the public relations professional maintains good relationship with professional on the media by simply responding to media request for information or spokesperson.
New media is relatively new in the society and most new in the practice of public relation. New media are new technological innovations that have revolutionary influence on the pattern of communication between organization and its publics. According to Luo and Jiang (2012), social media have emerged as a critical avenue for public relations practice. Social media has become a common activity in the world today which has broken the barriers of distance that has hampered communication. According to Samuel (2014:40) “The invention of the internet brought a new dimension to the media landscape, marked the beginning of technological transformational and socialization with a higher desire for information about everything. This slowly essentially is information about people”.
Simeon, Sitalaskshmi, Doriane, Donelle and Tom (2011) state that social media is a phenomenon that has transformed the interaction and communication of individuals throughout the world. However, social media is not a new concept. It has been evolving since the dawn of human interaction. In recent times, social media has impacted many aspects of human communication, thereby impacting business. Social networking has become daily practice in some user’s lives”.
The place of social media in communication cannot be overemphasized due to the fact that communication brings people together and foster peaceful co-existence. As such, social interaction has been as old as man. However, the medium of engaging this social interaction is the phenomenon that Simoen et al stated.
According to Simeon et al (2011) Emile Durkheim, a French sociology known by many as the father of sociology; and Ferdinand Tonnies a German sociologist, are considered pioneers of social networks during the late 1800s. The bedrock of media is the socialization. For man to relate they must be a Channel or media. That medium must enhance understanding of cues from parties involved in communication.
There is a synergy between public relations and social media. According to Lariscy, Avery, Smeetser and Howes (2009), the use of social medial has made the dissemination of information to stakeholders as easier and faster job or practitioners. Waters, Bumett, Lamm and Lucas (209) state that social networking sites, such as face book, twitter, and MySpace have allowed organizations to create their profiles and publicize the information about their existing brands or new products.
Delta State University is one of the state universities in Nigeria and it is situated in Abraka, with student population 36,000 according to DELSU Wikipedia. It was established on 30th April 1992 by the then Executive Governor of the State, Olorogun Felix Ibru. The university is composed of ten faculties including the College Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences; others are Faculty of Arts, Education, Sciences, Social Sciences, Agriculture, Management Sciences, law and Engineering.
Delta State University, Abraka has been historically recorded as a centre of education. It started as Government Teachers Training College during the colonial era and some years into the post-colonial era. It became College of Education (N.C.E) from 1971-1985 that awarded Nigerian Certificate of Education. It was affiliated to the University of Benin, Benin City and consequently offered degree programmes form 1981 till 1985 when it became the Faculty of education of the then Bendel State University with its main campus at Anwai, Oleh, and the main Campus in Abraka.