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Sample Research Paper on the Significant Difference between Public Relations in Private and Public Schools in Saudi Arabia

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Sample Research Paper on the Significant Difference between Public Relations in Private and Public Schools in Saudi Arabia


Background information

The importance of effective communication in both the corporate world and educational

sector is undeniable. Various reasons form the rational for the need of efficiency in public relations in various sectors. In the corporate world, public relations contribute immensely to organizational images, a factor that leads to differences in organizational profitability. In companies where the public relations aspect is not handled efficiently, the productivity is significantly low since public relations ensure that the communication and interactions between the organizational stakeholders are positive. Growth in any organization depends on the participation of all the corporate stakeholders in the organization. The aspect of public relations has been accorded limited attention in the education sector worldwide. The implication of this has been an increasing effort to enhance public relations in the business sector while ignoring the impacts of this essential aspect in the academic world.

However, it can confidently be affirmed that just like in the business world, the educational system is also increasing in its needs for public relations. How the various aspects of public relations are addressed in any school system determines the sustainability of operational success in that school. For instance, schools that pay limited attention to the public relations have weaker relationships with the school stake holders compared to schools where the public relations aspects are taken seriously. Several reasons have been cited as motivational towards public relations in schools. According to Cherenson (2012), schools need public relations due to the incessant attacks from various special interest groups, taxpayers, and governments. The attacks come in various forms such as competition from other schools, increase in the breadth of the outrage industry, and the impacts of communication on education. The outrage industry being identified through various communication modes such as blogging, social networking, and others. This industry is characterized by significant complaints registered through various media and from diverse origins, which can contribute to the ruin of a school’s public image. The role played by communication in education on the other hand, is significant, and extends to communication between educators and parents, educators and students, parents and their children as well as between other stakeholders such as the school management. Effective communication between all the factions in the school system leads to increased educational efficiency.

Apart from these, the necessity for PR in schools is also described by Carlsmith and Railsback (2001) as being due to several other reasons. First, competition is described as one of the core drivers for the need of public relations in schools. This is said to be because of the increase in the number of private schools and home schooling systems, which in most cases attract students from the public schools. This means that for the public schools to retain their students, they have to do increasingly more in terms of public relations. Secondly, increase in the levels of media scrutiny of schools makes it impossible for schools to run without public relations. Without positive public relations, it is possible for school to attain unwarranted negative publicity, which has the potential of resulting in poor performance. Moreover, demographics and increasing cynicism also play a role in negating the image of the educational systems and the schools in specific. The increase in the number of school going children and adults contributes to increasing need for effective public information. Cherenson (2012) also describes the cynicism as the outrage industry.

Purpose of the Research

The purpose of the present study is to offer insight into the public relations aspect in both public and private schools in Saudi Arabia. In order to achieve this purpose, the study aims at:

  • Finding the efficiency of public relations in public schools in Saudi Arabia
  • Determining the efficiency of public relations in private schools in Saudi Arabia
  • Comparing the efficiency of public relations in public and private schools in Saudi Arabia

To achieve these objectives, the study will be guided by three research questions, which include:

  • What is the efficiency of public relations in public schools in Saudi Arabia?
  • What is the efficiency of public relations in private schools in Saudi Arabia?
  • Is the efficiency of public relations in the public schools same as that in the private schools?

The hypotheses for the study include the following:

Null Hypothesis 1: Public relations in public schools in Saudi Arabia are efficient for their purpose.

Null hypothesis 2: Public relations in private schools in Saudi Arabia are efficient for the desired purpose

Null hypothesis 3: Public relations in public schools in Saudi Arabia is not as efficient as in private schools

These hypotheses will be tested through evaluation based on various variables such as media relations, internal and external relations, communication modes, and enrollment rates.

Definition of key terms

In carrying out the study based on PR in public and private schools in Saudi Arabia, the following key terms will appear throughout the research report. It is important to define them prior to beginning the study in order to address the issue of ambiguity before the commencement of the latter sections of the study.

Media – the media in the context of the present study is defined as all forms of electronic communication modes, which enable dissemination of information for public use. This category of media include social networks, television networks, radio, blogs, print media as well as any other form of media that may disseminate information to the public (Carlsmith & Railsback, 2001).

Public Relations – in the study, PR will be taken to mean any form of activity that is based on situational awareness and which is aimed at the application of tried practices and scientific principles for the persuasion of people to offer support to particular projects or tasks. The concept of PR is aimed at improving the effectiveness of the educational system in school through engagement of all the stakeholders and achieving their support.

Public School – A public school in this context is any institution under exclusive government support and which is meant to provide education to students. This implies that the level of schooling is insignificant. It can be a primary school, high school, college, or even university.

Private School – a private school in this research should be taken to mean an institution which is not under exclusive government support and which also offers educational services to potential clients who can afford. The private schools are in most cases more costly than the public schools since they operate as business entities through provision of academic services. Private schools as entities are both educational institutions and businesses hence the need for more intense PR (Holden-Quinn, 2010).

Stakeholders – Stakeholders refer to people who play important and diverse roles in the growth and well-being of either the public schools or the private schools. They may be the teachers, parents, boards of management, school owners, students, and other employees of the school. They perform different tasks for the development of the schools and effective communication is desirable between them to ensure that the schools operate successfully.

Problem statement

The importance of public relations in schools makes this an important subject of study. There is a perception that private schools often perform better in terms of the delivery of educational goals in comparison to public schools. Because of this, it is believed that public schools need stronger public relations to be able to perform competitively in comparison to the private schools. Despite this belief, there are limited studies that have been dedicated to the determination of the level of PR in public schools in comparison to that in the private schools. This poses a challenge, in that, it is difficult to predict whether the PR in public schools contributes to the positive perception and to what extent the perception of the public concerning public schools can change with improved PR. Particularly, the education sector in Saudi Arabia has not been studied intensively in terms of the PR of the various school types. This makes the study topic a problem that needs to be addressed. By carrying out this study, there is a strong conviction that it will contribute expansively to the education sector through the provision of information relating to PR, which is currently limited. Moreover, based on the study findings, it will be possible to make recommendations for better performance of public schools in terms of PR. It will also contribute to PR information through providing a description of various aspects of PR, which are implemented in schools. This aspect will also be instrumental in the study since these aspects will form an important source of information, particularly in the absence of information that relates directly to the public and private schools in Saudi Arabia.

Literature Review
Public Relations Concept

Public Relations have been described variably over the years. The definitions given of public relations by different authors differ significantly in their wording and implications. However, the concepts developed through the different definitions are similar in that in each case, the message given is that all the stakeholders involved in the activities aim PR at the achievement of mutually beneficial ends. According to Bernays (1947), the concept of PR involves the re-engineering of concepts with the purpose to attain consent from stakeholders in carrying out of projects or tasks. The project or tasks for which consent is engineered have to be mutually beneficial to all the stakeholders involved as well as for the organization.

This definition is similar to what is given by Cutlip et al (2006). Cutlip et al assert that PR refers to the management function, which is tasked with the establishment and maintenance of beneficial relationships between any organization and the public on which it depends for success or failure. Both Bernays and Cutlip et al propose the concepts of mutual benefit as being the focus of PR. However, these definitions do not cover what aspects are involved in the establishment and maintenance of the mutually beneficial relationships.

In enhancing the definitions given by Cutlip et al (2006) and Bernays (1947), Wilcox and Cameron (2009) provide slightly descriptive details of what the PR function entails. According to these authors, PR involves the evaluation of the public’s attitudes, the identification of both individual and organizational policies in line with the public interest, planning, and execution of programs of actions, which are aimed at earning the public’s understanding as well as patience. From this definition, it is clear that the scope of PR is wide. It can also be deduced based on this definition that the objective of PR is to achieve public support after attaining their understanding and patience. This can be said to be similar to the aspect of attaining stakeholder support in projects and tasks as proposed by Bernays (1947).

The objective of building mutually beneficial relationships between the organization and the various stakeholders can only be achieved through effective communication (Holden- Quinn, 2010). This has led to the common misconception that public relations mainly entail engagement in communication. This is contrary to the already outlined finding that the scope of PR is wide and involves much more than communication. Based on this finding, various concepts of PR will be evaluated in the public and private school contexts.

In any institution, the involvement in PR is the responsibility of designated individuals or groups. It is the duty of the PR practitioners in whatever entity they are involved in to carry out various activities associated with PR. The sole objective of all the activities is to bring about common understanding between the stakeholders for mutual benefit. From the Explanation of Grunig and White (1992), PR practice requires professionalism and education on the part of the practitioner. This is because besides the consideration of organizational goals and objectives, ethical considerations also have to be made by the practitioners. This implies that although PR cannot stand alone in ethical aspects as posited by Botan and Hazelton (2006), the consideration of ethical values still takes center place in its application.

This therefore calls for the involvement of educational principles in practice. This effectively explains why both education and professionalism are required of any individual that is to be considered a PR practitioner. One of the factors that contribute to the success of any PR program is the image or impression created by the PR practitioner who represents the organization (Freitag, 2002). A key gap that exists in the consideration of the PR practice field is that of consideration of organizational values. The differences in the PR practice according organizational needs and demands have given rise to different PR practice theories as given by Freitag and Stokes (2009).

Several factors determine the nature of the PR practice in various organizations. Factors such as political stability and individual differences contrib.ute to the public perceptions about the PR efforts. Following the need for the practice differences, four theories have been used to describe the practice in different organizations. The purpose of the theories is to enhance the practice in terms of focus on the concepts of strategic planning, and action based on strategic visions. The four theories suggested by Grunig and Grunig (2002) are based on the authors’ Excellence model and include a gentry/ publicity, two-way asymmetrical model, public information model and the two -way symmetrical model. Each of these models explains different concepts in PR. The most applicable in the school context are the press agentry model and the two- way symmetrical model. In the school systems, the press agentry model may be essential especially in private schools, which are also businesses besides being educational facilities.

The objective of this PR model is said to be a promotion or marketing strategy. On the other hand, two-way symmetrical PR model is applicable where the two systems i.e. the institution and the public influence the actions of each other for mutual benefit. It may be suitable for all school types.

Public relations in Saudi Arabia

The application of PR in Saudi Arabia is still in development. This implies that it still facing challenges with information availability (Alanazi, 2013). Consequently, information gaps that exist can be addressed through carrying out research in the target areas. One such area is the application of PR in the school set up. This area has not been the subject of many studies. Moreover, the studies carried out with respect to PR in this sector have not been comparative, neither have they been carried out with the aim of determining PR efficiencies. Even in the areas that have had studies carried out, the information available is still limited since students in their course of study mostly carry out the studies. This implies that the scope covered by the available information is narrow and demanding of further studies.

Although the information that is available on PR in the Saudi Arabian context, Sriramesh (2003) asserts that studies carried out in other countries are instrumental in building the PR aspect in Saudi Arabia. This assertion can be concluded to be true since most of the study sectors operate in similar manner across borders. For instance, the public school education system operates in similar modes in other countries as in Saudi Arabia. This means that any PR practices that are suitable for the public schools in other countries are most likely to be applicable to the Saudi Arabian context.

One factor that has contributed to the continued development of PR in Saudi Arabia as well as in the entire Middle East is the Islamic Religion. This is based on the fact that Islam encourages communication, which is a major concept in PR (Alanazi, 2013). Moreover, the consideration of cultural and religious values also contributes significantly to the success of PR efforts since people’s perceptions of any marketing strategy depends on the ability of the practitioner to match the message displayed with the cultural and individual values associated with the target audience (Mohammad & Ahmad, 2013). Although the role of Islam in the development of PR is significant, the concept of masculinity, which is often associated with Islamic traditions, is not well addressed. As a religion, the implication of Islam on PR may be immense but may also be hampered by the fact that the issue of femininity is just rising to the core presently (Mohammad & Ahmad, 2013). For instance, bold and aggressive communications among females may not be encouraged by the Islamic religion yet it has been established that females perform better in PR tasks as compared to males (Khazan, 2014).

Although research has been carried out on PR in the Saudi Arabian context, these studies mainly focus on crises that occur in the country without finding an alignment between the proposed theories of PR and the nation’s context (Freitag & Stokes, 2009). This means that there is still an information gap that exists in the relation of the PR theories to the Saudi Arabian context. Another factor that has hampered the growth in this information dearth has been the prevalent consideration of PR as propaganda and the exclusion of PR practitioners from the decision-making processes in the organizations (Alanazi, 1996). This has led to the development of a PR profession characterized by various features. These characteristics include: a misunderstanding of the entire concept of PR, lack of training and expertise in PR, limitation of financial resources for carrying out PR studies and practice, increase in educational programs for PR and increasing standards of professional public relations practice (Alanazi, 2013).

Public relations therefore play a seemingly unimportant role in the Saudi Arabia context. This is based on its consideration as the government’s tool for manipulation, protocol and publicity as a result of which is it mainly applied in institutions linked to the government (Kirat, 2005). Therefore, it is expected that the application of PR in public schools will be more intense than in the private schools. While it has been established that PR is mainly used in institutions tied to the government, it has not been confirmed whether the application is effective or not. This therefore makes it an interesting idea to explore. It may be realized that despite being used intensively in government related institutions, it is more effective in the private sector due to its consideration as a tool for mutual benefit rather than for manipulation and protocol as it is purported in the government institutions.

Public Relations in schools

According to Carlsmith and Railsback (2001), the concept of public relations in schools was formerly characterized by one way communication aimed at showcasing the offers of a particular school and the advantages associated with it. However, this model has been proved to be ineffective over the years. This warrants the argument that the agentry model is an example of the public relations excellence models that is suitable for the school set-up. The increasing use of the two-way symmetrical model characterized by partnerships and enhanced communication for mutual benefit has made PR in schools to appear more effective.

It is the opinion of Carlsmith and Railsback that partnerships with schools is not an aspect of choice rather than one of compulsion especially for parent. This is based on the argument that most parents never vote freely for school project funding. This makes it essential for public relations to be inculcated in both private and public schools. Effectiveness of public relations in schools is however, dependent on how the principles of the profession are applied as well as the exercise of the various public relations methods in use (Beard, 1997).

The application of public relations in schools and its effectiveness depends on organizational cultures. The school, operating as an organization has the information aimed at the promotion of the school distributed to the target public through various modes. According to Woods (2013), the methods that are used in school public relations include photography, newsletters, notice boards, the social media, seminars, research, speeches, exhibitions, display stands, and charity support. Although these methods are effective towards the achievement of the agentry objective of public relations, they also portray PR as being a function of communication alone. This is contrary to the description given by Holden -Quinn (2014) which describes school PR as being inclusive of strategic management principles and being focused on the mutual well being of all the involved partners. In addition, it might be concluded that school PR cannot be mutually beneficial since some of the partners are not there by choice as has been reported by Carlsmith and Railsback (2001).

Despite the variety in the description of school PR as well as the diversity of PR methods in schools, various authors agree that public relations play an important role in the school set up. The various functions that have been associated with PR in the school set up include; promotion of community input, design of communication levels, conduction of research, polls and surveys as well as interpretation of the results for management use; designing informational and objective materials for bond issue and budget campaigns; anticipation of image issues and provision of solutions to prevalent problems; creation of avenues for staff recognition; employee training on the benefits of PR (Carlsmith & Railsback, 2001). According to Warner (2009) and Swallow (2010), the evaluation of public relations effectiveness is carried out based on its capability to create functional relationships between the school and its public. The role of enhancing relationships between the schools and the public is achieved through enriching dialogue and enhancing understanding (Swallow, 2010). Although the methods used in public relations to accomplish the different roles are somehow similar across different school types, their applications are different in public and private schools.

The differences in functioning and organizational structures in private and public schools make the public relations functions different significantly. The sole driving motivation behind PR differences between the two schools is that while the governments fund public schools, the private schools depend entirely on private funding (Indest, 2004). This implies that the functioning of private schools is based on business operation principles as opposed to the public schools. According to Indest (2004), the roles played by PR in public schools are mainly aimed at enhancing community support. Grunig’s two – way symmetrical communications model is thus recommended for the public schools as it has been confirmed to be effective in enhancing communication (Martinson, 1999). The private schools’ PR on the other hand requires the application of the agentry model of PR excellence.

From the research carried out by Indest, Private schools carry out PR with the aim of attracting the best students to their institutions as well as obtaining enough funds to sustain the running of the school. From this point of view, it is clear that private schools have to use PR both for communicating with their relevant publics and to promote the schools with the aim of attracting more potential customers (students). The application of public relations in private schools is therefore based on both two-way symmetrical and asymmetrical models of excellence (Woods, 2013). This means that while the intensity of PR in public school may not be as significant as that in private schools, the effectiveness of PR in both set- ups is based on different roles. The effectiveness of PR in public schools is measured by the ability to enhance communication between the school and its public while in the private school, the focus is on both promotion and communication enhancement (Woods, 2013). According to Indest (2004), the application of the two way models enable the funds providers to be accessed in a more professional and ethical manner and for them to contribute towards the well-being of the school. The role of public relations in both private and public schools is associated with various tasks, which are assigned to the PR professionals.

Newquist (2009) asserts that the public relations professionals in the school set up are tasked with responsibilities such as handling media relations, planning communications, offering public relations trainings, carrying out PR research, polls and surveys and reporting the same, staff recognition, communication with external and internal publics, planning community relations and managing marketing and school imaging efforts. These responsibilities are associated with immense authority with respect the PR and are the core activities carried out for ensuring that the PR in the schools is effective (Newquist, 2009).

Research Methods

This section gives a detailed description of the methods adopted in the research. This includes a description of the research instrument, the study context, the design, and the sample selection.

Research Design

A qualitative research design was chosen for this study. The rationale behind the choice of this method is that it is appropriate for addressing theoretical research objectives such as those in this study. The qualitative approach to research helps to obtain information that can be connected to grounded theories such as the information that intended to be collected during the present study. Through the use of various primary research techniques, the qualitative study approach helps to collect information that can be both verbal and non-verbal. The focus is on the actual feelings and emotions associated with the required information. Moreover, qualitative research design focuses on the theoretical aspects that can be descriptive or exploratory as opposed to the quantitative approach, which is largely based on the empirical information that cannot be generalized into theories (Witt, 2001).

The particular research paradigm that was applied in the study is a comparative exploratory paradigm. This is because the objective of the research is to find out the effectiveness of Public Relations in public and private schools. This objective makes it critical to rely on descriptive information. The exploratory research paradigm aims at obtaining theoretical information that tends to describe cause – effect relationships, or to give detailed information about concepts on which little is known (Witt, 2001). This makes it a suitable paradigm for this research since the information that is required is based on a subject on which little information is currently available and thus aimed at providing in-depth information on the same. Similarly, a comparative study helps to obtain information that can be used to draw conclusions on the similarities and differences between two concepts. Since the focus is on comparing the public and the private schools, this approach proves to be the best paradigm to adopt.

Study Context

The study was carried out based on both secondary and primary information. While the secondary information was collected from relevant pieces of literature, which were selected using a content based search, the primary information was collected through surveys carried out using questionnaires in two schools. The context of the study therefore is on two schools, one private and the other public. The study carried out in each of these schools was on the basis of anonymity hence the public school was described as School 1 while the private school was described as school 2. In each of these schools, the target population comprised of public relations personnel, which in most cases include the persons responsible for various administrative functions in the schools. The two schools in the study are each in Saudi Arabia hence the focus of the study will be on PR practices in the Saudi Arabian school context. This implies that while the information gained may be specific to Saudi Arabia, it may also be applicable to other countries as long as the school set- up is the same.


For each of the schools, a sample of 50 respondents was aimed at for the questionnaire surveys. This sample size was chosen for the study since it provides an effective representation of the school population. Moreover, since the public relations function in the schools is not the role of a single individual, getting many people to participate in the study gives a good approach towards establishing the actual image of the PR function in the schools. In addition, since PR is mainly based on the interactions that occur between the different school functions and the school public, the engagement of as many individuals as possible from a single school makes it possible to determine the image projected by the different study participants. The sample used in the survey included different stakeholders in each school.

Research instrument

The major research instrument that was used in the study is the survey questionnaire. The questionnaire was chosen because it provides the respondents with an opportunity to focus on the survey and thus provide the information without coercion or compulsion. The survey questionnaire was designed to comprise of 24 questions with multiple-choice answers to enable the participants to make choices. The purpose of the questions was to determine how PR has been used in the different schools and how effective it has been. The same questions were asked in school 1 as in School 2 to give a level ground for comparison. This means that for each question, a measure can be accorded to the answers given and thus be used to effectively evaluate the PR function in that school.

The survey questionnaire can assist in the collection of valid data. The usability of data collected through the questionnaires was based on three factors, which determine data validity. These factors include reliability, accuracy and precision. In order to confirm the research tool’s validity, the data accuracy is determined by the reliability of the information source (Mora, 2011). The survey questions were confirmed to be reliable as well as valid through measurement of consistency and accuracy respectively. The accuracy evaluation resulted in the confirmation that the existence of content, internal and external validity. The content was considered valid since the survey questions reflected the study objectives. The survey was also considered to be internally valid since it has the capacity to help in obtaining the desired information. Since the survey results were confirmed to be suitable for answering the research questions, the survey was considered to be externally valid as well (Mora, 2011). The conclusion was therefore reached that the survey was both valid and reliable as a tool for data collection.

The research questions were divided into 5 sections, each with at least 3 questions. The first section is the general information section, which was aimed at collecting information about the participants and their roles in the public relations function in the different schools. The second section was the external involvement section, which focused on the interactions between the school PR functions and the target school public. The third section was on communication and was aimed at determining the communication strategies used in the school and their effectiveness, while the fourth and fifth sections were on the internal relations and media relations respectively. Each of these sections was made to focus on a different aspect of PR with the objective of evaluating the effectiveness of each of these aspects in the schools.

Data analysis

After collecting the required information through both secondary and primary methods, the data was analyzed through repetitive summary. This method, called abstractive recursion is applicable to theoretical information obtained from varying sources. The information from the secondary sources was used as the basis for structuring the survey questionnaires and as a background for the primary study. On the other hand, the information obtained through the survey was coded and used to draw conclusion with respect to the study objectives and research questions. Since the survey provided answers specific to the public and private school set- ups, the information was also used to evaluate the effectiveness of public relations in the two settings. The objective of this was to achieve the comparative end of the study objectives.

Ethical considerations

While carrying out the study, various ethical concerns were taken into consideration. The use of surveys in the school set -up required that permission be obtained from the respective school authorities in order to engage participants from their schools. This was done before contacting potential respondents for the survey. Secondly, it was also essential for the survey to be carried out on a basis of anonymity. This was achieved through the use of identification codes rather than actual respondent names. This was instrumental for the protection of the respondent identities. The integrity of the respondents also took a central place in the interview. The researcher carried out the survey while upholding the dignity of the participants through respect of the personalities and values, politeness and development of positive rapport. This is essential as it enables the respondents to cooperate willingly and thus provide useful and accurate information. The dependence of the respondents on the researcher for information about the study and their contribution to it was addressed through explaining the study objectives, its contribution to the academia and the role played by the respondents’ participation towards the achievement of the study objectives. The participation is also supposed to be out of will and not through coercion.

The ethical concerns in the use of secondary information that were considered also played an important role in determining the results of the study. First, the materials used had to be meant for public access and use. Respect of copyright laws was put into consideration. In addition, the information obtained from these materials was also cited effectively within the text to avoid cases of plagiarism and also to promote the use of information prepared by others.

Results and Discussion

The survey results were analyzed based on coding. The various sections associated with the results were accorded different ratings based on factors considered for effective public relations. The first section provided general information about the study participants. As such, the results from this section were mainly used to confirm whether the source of information is reliable, and hence to carry out an analysis of the remaining sections of the survey findings. The second section of the survey questionnaire asked questions relating to the external relations in the school. The results for this section were coded as either in terms of PR effectiveness out of 25 percent. Favorable answers in each of the questions earned five points.

This implies that the maximum score for each of the questions was five. In the first question in section two, the school with an average of strong interactions with the general public was awarded five points. In each of the other questions, the average scores were obtained by calculating the number of participants who gave similar answers to the question. For instance, in the question about participation in community activities, a school where more than 50 percent of the participants listed more than three activities was awarded five points. A similar strategy was used in the other sections and other questions in the survey. In the last two sections, the coding was not carried out based on the specific question scores but rather on the general section perceived score. In section four, the perceived effectiveness of the internal relations was evaluated. A school, which reports high frequencies of internal communications and effectiveness of interactions, was accorded a score of 25 while the school with lower frequencies was given a score of less rating. The same model was used in section five questions to evaluate the effectiveness on the PR process in the schools. The table below shows a results’ summary obtained from the survey.

Questions and Sections

School 1

School 2




St. Dev



St. Dev

Section 2: External Relations










2. 92






































Section 3: Promotional Communication








1. 64



3. 96





































Section 4: Internal Relations







Section 5: Media Relations







From the results presented in the table above, it can be confirmed that the public relations function in the private school is more effective than that in the public schools. Several aspects taken into consideration clearly portray the image of the public and private schools in the study. In the first section, it was confirmed that the school administrators handled both the public relations function in the two schools. According to Holden- Quinn (2010), the aim of advocating for the application of public relations in schools is to enlighten the school administrators towards its effectiveness in enhancing the relationship between schools and their stakeholders. This is clearly based on the awareness that the function is carried out by the same personnel who carry out the administrative functions in the schools. In addition, in the two schools, the public relations functions are carried out when need arises in the school 1 and according to a prescheduled plan in school 2.

This can be explained to be a result of the needs associated with the two schools. For instance, while school 1 depends on the government for funding, school 2 depends on private funding for their growth. This means that school 2 must market itself effectively to obtain the requisite funding as well as to obtain students whose parents can be able to afford the costs of education.

In the second section, the nature of external interactions within the schools was established. In school 1, a total score of 19 was obtained in section 2. Similarly, School 2 also scored 19 in this section. The scores were however different on the separate questions. From these results, the interactions with the school target publics were found to be 4 and 5 for school 1 and school 2 respectively. The implication of these scores is that while the interactions with the public are present in school 1, they are very strong in school 2. This is probably due to the need for school 2 to promote itself effectively hence requiring to display a strong image to the public. This can only be achieved through constant and strong interactions. In the second question in this section, it was confirmed that school 1 participated in more community activities compared to school 2. This could be based on the argument that school 2 focuses on income generating activities and is more concerned about business growth than school 1.

The first school participants in more community activities probably because it is a community targeting institution and supported by the government. Scores for the frequency of communication with parents is also high in school 2 as compared to school 1. School 2, being a private school has to maintain constant communication with the public since it has the public both as customers and as potential students. The involvement of parents in the school activities is however similar in both schools.

The purpose of the third section of the survey was to determine the nature of the promotional communications within the schools. The scores for school were found to be higher compared to those of school 1. This can be explained based on the needs of the different schools. The private school has to engage in more promotional activities compared to the public schools. The significant number of promotional merchandise, engagement in media promotional communication and the organization of promotional activities make it possible for the school to access a larger market. School 2 therefore has more merchandise, which include branded cups, flasks, and various academic materials compared to school 1.

In sections 4 and 5, the scores for the two schools were dependent on the level of internal interaction and media relations respectively. The public school scored 15 in internal relations while the private school scored 20. This is a confirmation of the belief that with stronger needs to project a positive image to the public, the internal relations must also be strong enough. In terms of media relations, school 2 also reported higher scores than school 1. This means that school 2 has need for stronger media relations than school 1 due to its needs for marketing.

From these findings, it can be said that while public relations in the public school is effective towards the achievement of the objectives of the public schools, the PR in the private schools is more effective than that in the public school. The public relations in public schools is meant for the establishment of strong communication ties between the school and the public. On the other hand, the private school uses public relations both for promotion and for enhancing communication. The intensity with which public relations is applied in private schools must therefore be higher compared to that in public schools. The effectiveness of the PR is also significantly higher in private schools than in public schools as confirmed by the increase in the number of public schools and the interactions between the school administration and the public.

Study Limitation

The major limitation that can be associated with this study, and which is important to consider in future studies is the limitation of information on the study subject. While so many previous studies focus on public relations, very few are available on the school context and particular based in Saudi Arabia. This implies that since the information used in the study was obtained from studies carried out in other countries and related to the school context, the results obtained may also be inconclusive for the Saudi Arabian context.

Recommendations and Conclusion

Following results of the study, it can be recommended that the application of public relations in schools should be based on the particular needs of the school in question. For instance, public schools need lower levels of public relations compared to private schools. The engagement of excessive public relations strategies translates to increased costs, which may not be recovered by the school’s profitability.

Secondly, public relations should not be focused on communications alone. The importance of public relations in schools extends to the creation of community relations and the effectiveness of such relations towards mutual benefit. This cannot be achieved through focus on communication alone.

In conclusion, it can be said that the study was effective in achieving the study objectives. It has been confirmed that as was hypothesized prior to the study, public relations is more effective in private schools than in public schools. Despite the success of the study in achieving its objectives, the major challenge faced when carrying it out is that it became difficult to obtain permission from the authorities in one of the schools hence the necessity to use codes for the school information. The study was also limited in terms of access to secondary information relating to the topic of study.








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Appendix: Survey Questionnaire

The objective of the present study is to establish the effectiveness of public relations in the school set-up. We request your participation in order to improve the breadth of information that will be offered to the readers. Kindly participate and provide information to the best of your knowledge.

Section 1: General information

1.1 Name of school:    ____________________________________________________________

1.2 Whose responsibility is it to handle public relations functions in your school?

1.3 How do you practice public relations in this school? (Choose the most relevant answer)

  1. As part of an organizational plan
  2. When the need arises

1.4 What roles are assigned to the PR practitioner in this school?

Section 2: External Relations

2.1 How can you describe the relationship between the external stakeholders such as parents and the school administration?

  1. Strongly interactive
  2. Interactive
  3. Strained
  4. Very Strained

2.2 Does the school participate in any projects involving the surrounding community? If so, which ones?

2.3 What is the frequency of communication between the school and the parents?

2.4 Does the school need sponsorships? If so, how does the school go about getting the sponsors?

2.5 Do the school parents get involved in the school’s activities?

Section 3: Promotional Communication

3.1 Does the school advertise itself?

3.2 Which of the following media outlets is used by the school in self advertising?


  • Television
  • Newspapers
  • Social Media
  • Internet
  • Radio
  • School website
  • Magazine
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Videos


3.3 Which merchandise does your school use to market itself? (Examples may include branded T-shirts, cups e.t.c)

3.4 Does the school carry out promotional activities such as fund raisings?

3.5 How does the school organize any internal promotional events?

Section 4: Internal relations

4.1 What is the most common mode of communication between the school administration and the other staffs?

4.2 What is the frequency of holding staff meetings in the school?

4.3 What is the mode of communication between the staff and the learners during non-lesson hours?

4.4 What is the frequency of holding assemblies for the learners?

4.5 How effective do you think the relationship between the school administration and the students is?

Section 5: Media relations

5.1 Would you be willing to create collaborative relations between the school and the media?

5.2 Which of the following media outlets has been used to distribute information about the school before?

  1. Newspapers
  2. Television
  3. Radio
  4. Internet
  5. Magazine

5.3 Does the school submit news items to any media houses? Which one and at what frequency?

5.4 Has a news conference ever been hosted by the school? If so, when and why?

5.5 Has the school ever been featured on either radio or television? Which outlet and when?


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