1.1 Background Information
A secretary, according to Webster's dictionary is “a person responsible for dealing with the correspondence and records of an organization or individual employer”.
Apparently, a secretary is a person who posses special office and other skills that can enhance the efficiency of any organization.
The position or grade of secretary varies from junior stenographer to administrative assistant. Their work ranges from taking shorthand notes, transcribing verbatim on the typewriter, to handling all administrative duties of a large modern organization. Secretaries assist executives. They are found in all organization of the world, ranging from small to large commercial centre in major cities.
It is generally acknowledged that the secretary is an indispensable contributor to the successful conduct of day to day running of organization. The secretary is the major communication link between the Executives, the office staffs and the public.
Secretary duties depend to a large extent on the type of organization, it objectives and its understanding or evaluation of a secretary. Some organizations do not actually know the particular areas in which the secretary has to function. Under such circumstances, clerical and secretarial duties are all combined and assigned.
However, some of the well – known duties of a secretary include the following: taking down dictation in shorthand and transcribing them on the typewriter, typing of documents, reception duties and of course public relations which form the subject matter of the study.
The word “Secretary” has different meanings or connotations to different people in some organizations, the Chief Executive is addressed as the “Executive Secretary” while in others, the Public Relation Officer (pro) are known and addressed as company secretaries.
The art of secretaryship is a specialized one which requires a high level of performances. The secretary is an ambassador who links his/her organization with the outside world and contributes greatly to the accomplishment of the organizational objectives.
A secretary is also a good supervisor and a first line manager, and one that liaises effectively between the top executives and other staffs. A secretary act as a good receptionist and as a competent public relations officer, projecting positively the image of the organization.
The word “Public Relation” could be stated or explained as the way a secretary interact with the public in an organization,
Public Relation in an organization is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of promoting cordial relationship with the public.
A secretary should posses the following qualities to be able to perform her functions creditably. She should be polite, courteous, tolerant, honest, humble, respectful, good understanding of English language and should have the ability of interacting successfully with public. It is essential that a secretary should maintain a very cordial relationship with the public and be willing to assist them at any point in time.
A secretary should be well trained to be able to perform the roles of a public relation officer successfully because she/he will come across situations that call for tact, integrity, initiative, organization and good judgment. He/She will also come across different types of callers/visitor, there would be some on appointment and there are some difficult caller and they should all be treated with courtesy and accorded due recognition.
A secretary should always endeavor to curtail his/her anger when dealing with the public, even when they prove to be difficult because not all visitor that the secretary come in contact with will necessary be in the right mood or sound frame of mind and the first impression of a caller about an organization is influenced by the way and manner he/she was treated on his/her first visit to the organization. This is based on an adage that says “first impression last longer”.
The secretary's manner and appearance is very important in creating the right impression of the organization. A good secretary should be neat in appearance, well dressed, cheerful and look smart always. This can be supported by advice given to secretaries by Garand (1986) which states “practice good manner at home, then you will be sure of your self elsewhere” A good secretary need to have good public relation in order to be successful and useful in an organization. He/She should create a good will for his/her organization and avoid anything that will create bad impression in the mind of the public.
The secretary requires a comprehensive knowledge of the organization to be able to perform the role of public relation officer successfully. It is now obvious that it is very important that every organization should have an image-maker that will portray the image of the organization to its best advantage.
In other word, a secretary should demonstrate good relationship with the public.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In our society now, the secretarial profession has been largely held disgust i.e. dislike because most secretaries are regarded as public relation nuisance to their respective organizations. Many people have a myopic view of who a secretary is i.e. some think a secretary is, next to nothing except that she is a typist and shorthand writer.
In some organizations nowadays, secretaries are counted as dropped out people who only learn how to type for the benefit of their living. This impression makes some company managers to regard their secretary as office cleaner or as their messenger.
Secretary without public relations knowledge i.e. ways of interacting with public, like co-workers, the company customers even his/her boss will surely face many problems and people will have bad impression about him/her.
The feeling of people about the profession has informed the writing of this project. In other words, this project will be researched to clear some issues that might have been bothering the minds of people as to whether or not a secretary could have a successful career without good public relations attribute.
1.3 Purpose of Study
This study will analyze in details the relevance of public relation to secretarial practice, the problems encountered in the course of carrying out these duties, likely prospect anticipated and suggestions on some possible solution to the problems. The researcher will attempt to find out the qualities and training required of a secretary relating to public relations and highlight how a secretary could contribute to the image and objectives of an organization through his/her role as a public relations officer.
1.4 Significance of Study
The researcher believes that this study will be of great benefit to all practicing secretaries, student secretaries' employers, other professional as well as the general public. This study will enlighten employers on the duties of secretaries as public relation officer. It will also portray secretaries in better light in the estimation of the public.
Moreover, it will encourage students that are aspiring to become secretaries in future to know how to interact or deal with different people in an organization.
1.5 Limitation of the Study
Funds available to the researcher is limited, hence it had to be judiciously managed in order to get the best possible result.
The study also focused on a specific institution; hence findings and generalization relate specifically to this institution (The Polytechnic Ibadan) and may not apply to other institution or establishment. It is possible for people to connect It is possible for people to conceal their attitude about a particular situation; hence this study was limited to the opinion so expressed in the questionnaire.
Also time constraint and other logistics still limited this research work to an extent.
1.6 Research Questions
1 To what extent can a secretary be regarded as a public relations officer?
2 To what extent does the level of education enhance a secretary's public relations functions?
3 Is there any need for a public relation unit in an organization when the secretarial department can public relations functions?
4 To what extent can a secretary succeed in his/her career without good public relation?
1.7 Definition of Terms
1 Organization: – Means the same thing as company. It is an arrangement
of systems into a coherent unit. An organization is being created to make profit (Oxford advanced dictionary)
2 Secretary: – Is an assistant to an executive possessing mastery of office skills and ability to resume duties without direct supervision. Also, they take shorthand from their boss and transcribe it on the typewriter. They act as a public relation officer in an organization.
(Webster's seventh New Collegiate dictionary)
3 Public: – Means people in general but there are special public which have something in common with each other in an organizations such as employees, customer etc.
4 Relations: – The act relating between one another e.g. ideas, opinion etc.
5 Function: – It base on the duties i.e. what to do for the organization
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