EFFECTIVENESS OF CORPORATE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES IN SELECTED OIL & GAS COMPANIES IN NIGERIA
Corporate Reputation Management (CRM), a multi-disciplinary concept in Public Relations practice, is an important management function in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. Its five major strategies namely strategic communications, stakeholder engagement, corporate social responsibility (CSR), events & protocols management, as well as issues & crisis management have been employed in building, sustaining, promoting, projecting and repairing the reputation of selected oil and gas companies since the middle 1990s. However, the companies have continued to suffer from hostile community agitations, bitter public complaints, sabotage of oil facilities, negative media publicity and other reputational defects despite huge budgets to these areas. This has prompted the need to evaluate the effectiveness of the CRM strategies. The study had the objectives to: (i) ascertain if international oil companies operating in Nigeria have significantly adopted CRM strategies, (ii) find out whether the CRM strategies identified were effective in building and sustaining the reputation of the selected oil companies, (iii) assess if evaluative research about the effectiveness of CRM strategies was usually carried out in the Public Relations operations of the selected oil companies in Nigeria, (iv) ascertain the level of knowledge of the culture of CRM in the selected oil companies and (v) determine the level of relationship between CRM and successful business operations in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. This study adopted a survey design methodology. The five hypotheses formulated in the study were tested appropriately. The findings show that the CRM strategies are highly effective but they have been poorly applied in the selected oil and gas companies namely Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC), Chevron Nigeria Limited, ExxonMobil Corporation and Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited. The findings also show that CRM is not strategically positioned in top management hierarchy of the companies to participate in policy formulation and playing its leading role in building positive image for the organisations. The study has made various recommendations to address and redress these anomalies so that the oil and gas industry in Nigeria would build better relationships with critical stakeholders based on mutual understanding and benefits. Most importantly, the study recommended full and optimal application of the five CRM strategies, and a new model in stakeholder engagement called “Partnership and Participation in Community Relations and Development (PPCRD)” while corporate reputation management should be located in the top management hierarchy so that it could be given the attention it deserves in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.