Examining the place of public relations in correctional institutions in Uganda
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The study examined the place of Public Relations (PR) in correctional institutions using a case study of the Uganda Prisons Service (UPS). It was guided by four objectives namely; i) to evaluate the relevance of PR at UPS, ii) to show how and at what level PR has been integrated at UPS, iii) to explore the challenges of PR practice at UPS, iv) to recommend strategies for effective PR practice in correctional institutions in Uganda. Primary and secondary data collection methods were used. These included survey, interview and documentary review methods. This study is significant because it gives a snapshot of how the placement of PR in correctional institutions translates into organizational reputation to the internal and external publics. The study is of benefit to management in the prison services and other Correctional institutions, and in forming a basis for future PR policies by Government for such institutions. This study contributes to the body of literature available in the field of PR and Correctional Institutions Findings on relevance of PR included; safeguarding institutional image, reporting to the citizenry, increasing the internal cohesion, mobilization of support for the agency, and enhancing corporate reputation. Regarding the integration of PR at UPS; sports, special events, engaging in community work, crisis management, education and farming were revealed. On challenges to PR practices; budget constraints, low staffing levels, closed system and low placement in the management structures were found out. Regarding strategies that could be applied in effective PR practice in correctional institutions in Uganda; increase in budget allocation and refresher training courses were found out. The study concluded that PR to a greater extent is key in an organization and that its activities affect the performance and delivery of services. The findings show that PR builds product awareness, provides information of services of an organization, reinforces the brand of an organization and creates interest in the services of an organization. Thus PR positively impacts on the delivery of services. It is therefore paramount to actively engage the PR function in an organization to realize the set goals and promote the organization values.