Exploring Public Relations Practitioners’ Actual Practice: Jimma Zonal Government Offices in Focus
This study aimed at describing public relations practitioners’ actual (existing) practice in terms of roles and models, in Jimma zonal sector offices. The study involved both quantitative and qualitative methods using semi-structured questionnaire, in-depth interview and document analysis as data collection tools. Key informants were selected using purposive sampling technique. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the quantitative data and thematic analyses were employed for qualitative data analysis. The result of the study shows that the contribution of public relation (PR) practitioners in terms of managerial tasks in sector offices was low and they were busy doing technical tasks and playing technician roles. The study also found out that publicity, public information and two-way asymmetrical models were highly practiced and employed. The overall practice of PR practitioners was not effective and did not reach the objectives according to the stated goal in the analyzed document. The result in this regard also revealed that the practice was not receiving due consideration from zonal higher officials and even it was considered to be valueless in their eyes. The public’s interest was not the primary consideration of zonal officials’ PR activities as most of them had political affiliations. It is, therefore, recommended that PR practitioners and the organizations/ offices/institutes could be professionally and structurally organized; practitioners in particular might get involved in strategic planning and decision making to make the activities of PR more effective.
Keywords: PR models; PR practitioners; PR roles; Public relations