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The objective of this study is to elicit the effectiveness of communication in corporate image management: A case of MTN Nigeria. This cannot be over emphasized, as it is a pre-requisite for the survival of an organizations image that is communication conscious. This work is carried out to look at how communication can be effectively utilized in contributing to corporate image management, and also to role the management plays in contributing to this, to maintain a healthy communication climate. The questionnaire constituted the major instrument for data collection in this work, with a method of probability sampling: The investigation was based on four zones that were randomly selected from Abakaliki metropolis. A method of probability sampling is the sampling technique employed for the selection of a sample size. And the data obtained were analysed using statistical techniques and the hypothesis was tested with chi-square techniques. The result of the chi-square tested revealed that sound communication put in place as employed in organizations has immensely improved an organization corporate image. The major recommendation points out that efforts should be geared at improving communication services, because it is the pivot of any organizational survival with change being the only constant thing in this modern world of ours.




Communication undoubtedly has proved to be the life wire of today’s world. A world that cannot maximally function without free flow, uninterrupted and effective communication. The world is so interdependent and interwoven, to a level that no individual, organization, government or even business, can solely survive without mutual co-existence with others. And the pivot of such interaction and relationship is communication.

To communicate “basically means to share ideas, information, opinions, or experience, between people” (Okunna, 1999a:5). Therefore, it is when information to gratifying that compliance can be expected and effective communication can hardly occur, unless there is understanding between the communicator (management) and the target audience (customers), a basis for mutual understanding arising from identical socio-cultural knowledge and opinion about the society, thus providing conditions for identical meanings in content, context and intention.

Sannie (1996:12) agrees that effective communication in organization helps to, explain the objectives, policies and activities of the organization which have to be known by all the employees, to enable them put in their best efforts; it also enables workers understand the goals and activities in the organization, thus fostering team-spirit between the management of which effective communication enables the management elicit the views of employees and the external publics towards its activities.

More so, two-way communication provides the greatest interactive forum for efficient and effective communication. And communication which is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired and transformed (Carey, 1975:10) via a common protocol, of which surprisingly only seven to eleven percentage of all communication is verbal and the rest being non-verbal.

Nowadays, the use of technology has helped and enhanced distant communication, but according to President Julius Nyerere, he once rightfully pointed out that while some nations are going for the moon, we (the African nations) are still trying to reach the villages. Larey (1995:20-21) stresses also that “Because we have looked at each new advance in communication technology as opportunities for politics and economics we have devoted them, almost exclusively, to government and trade. We have rarely seen them as opportunities to expand (our) powers to learn and exchange ideas and experiences”.

African countries, are not yet in the league of information societies and the greatest impediment to the development of communication strategies for social change in Africa is due to lack of coordinated and coherent national communication policies. Thus, a well informed society is no doubt, a wise society. But she (Africa) must make haste to join the rest of the world in the information terrain. Merely crying out against imbalances and imperialism does not reduce her communication problems a bit. No doubt, in view of the amazing velocity with which information spreads across the globe via modern communication technologies, one is prompted to believe that the world has shrunk further from the global village level to a tiny global family.

It is also important to note that effective communication of individuals to an organizational corporate image, has to do first, with his individual difference approach, which suggests that each of us has unique qualities that results in our reacting differently to media messages, and these differing effects are partially caused by our exposure, perception and retention of media content before the social relationship approach is thought of. (The approach says that, although the media can help disseminate the initial message, how it is retransmitted, discussed, and reinforced and rediscussed will determine the overall effect of the message).

This confirms what Wiellbacher M. N. says, the “communication provides generally useful, relevant and pertinent information on which the consumer (audience) either acts immediately or stores for latter reference and use”.

Aside that, to align a company’s reputation with reality, the strength of the organization as a whole needs to be communicated, because effective management of a corporate image is essentially the only way to ensure that an organization is building the reputation it wants.

Therefore corporate image is ultimately a reflection of the behaviour of an enterprise over time and can benefit from a well-executed communication campaign. By and large, these impressions and associations are shaped by forces which the company can to a greater or lesser degree control which cannot bear forth fruit without effective communication. And effective communication on the other hand relates closely with public relations in order to display openly and sincerely to its publics that, “Organizations are judged by their actions, what they do and not what they say and probably do not carry out.”

Perhaps to do away with the fog and apparent confusion which attends public opinion and to replace it with facts and figures, public relations is highly needed. And public relations is predicted on the belief that only “an informed public can be wired public”.

In effect, effective communication can hardly occur, unless there is an understanding between the communicator and the target audience, a basis for mutual understanding arising from identical socio-cultural knowledge and opinion about the society, thus providing conditions for identical meaning in content, context and intention. Therefore, no organization can survive under a situation where free flow of information does not exist because it promotes stability in the polity and reduces mutual suspicion which often exists as a result of rumour mongering due to a gap in communication.

Hence, effective communication must be ensured to forestall possible misunderstanding and elements of rumours that leads to misunderstanding and conflicts (Eluwa 2003:42).


The mobile phone scene started in the early 1980’s. As business was becoming increasingly international the cutting edge of the communications industry focused on exclusive local cellular solutions. And none was remotely compatible with any of the others – NMT 450 in the Nordic and Benelux countries. TACS in the United Kingdom and C-net in West Germany, Radio COM 2000 in France and RTMI/RTMS in Italy. All these were some of the building blocks of a tottering tower of Babel that might enable you to call the office, if you were in your own home, not a client in another country.

Nevertheless, it was clear there would be an escalating demand for a technology that facilitated flexible and reliable mobile communication. But this in itself was potentially lethal time bomb; that threatened the durability of the first generation’s cellular networks. However, a group spéciale mobile had been assessing a range, a proposal that would determine the shape of the second generation’s mobile service.

Back in 1986, the GSM permanent nucleus had held a series of validation trials in Paris. They tested eight to nine different designs in the quest for an appropriate radio path, because at the heart of developing a new digital standard was the resolution of questions relating to reliability and error connection. Fortunately, the technology that could provide such a resolution was around the corner.

One of the most important conclusions drawn from the early test was that, the new standard should employ; Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) Technology. The strength of its technical performance ensured that narrow band TDMA had the support of major players like Nokia, Erickson and Siemens.

In the course of 1987, the GSM performent nucleus supervised the development of a unique GSM test bed, up till now a great deal of time, money and effect had been pumped into the project. But the industry pioneers were faced with the big question: Would it work?

After a sequence of validation tests, the answer was a resounding …Yes. The GSM digital standard did work albeit with some slight modifications. And in February 1988, thirteen countries issue simultaneous invitations-to-the-tenders.

Its advantage to Africans is that ninety-five percent of handsets in Africa are GSM. And Nigeria on her part latter joined many countries on the 11th February 2001.


MTN Nigeria Communications Limited is a part of the MTN Groups, incorporated in Nigeria on November 8th, 2000 as a private company. It secured a license to operate digital (Global system for mobile telecommunication – GSM) telephony on February 9th, 2001 from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The Africa’s leading cellular telecommunications company on May 16th 2001, emerged as the first network to make a call following the globally lauded Nigerian GSM auction conducted by the Nigerian Communications Commission earlier that year. Thereafter, the company launched full commercial operations beginning with Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

Since the launch in August 2001, MTN has steadily deployed its services across Nigeria. It now provides service in two hundred and twenty three cities and towns, more than ten thousand villages and communities and spanning the thirty six states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The company’s digital microwave transmission backbone, the three thousand, four hundred kilometre Y’ello Bahn was commissioned by President Olusegun Obasanjo in January 2003, and has significantly helped to enhance call quality on MTN network.

MTN Nigeria also recently expanded its network capacity to include a new numbering range with the prefix 0806, making MTN the first to have adopted an additional numbering system, having exhausted its initial subscriber numbering range – 0803.

Available service on the MTN network includes, Pay As You Go (the prepaid package), Business Time (post-paid package), Booster Card as well as an array of value added services that include: Short Message Service (SMS), International Roaming, Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), MTN Fun Fone, MTN Directory Enquiries and Remote Interactive Voice Response (RIVR) and a lot more services to mention but a few.

MTN’s overriding mission is to be a catalyst for Nigeria’s economic growth and development, helping to unleash Nigeria’s strong developmental potential not only through the provision of world class communications but also through innovative and sustainable corporate social responsibility initiatives.

And MTN subsists on the core values of integrity, friendliness, innovation, leadership, relationships and a “can do” attitude. It prides itself on its ability to make the impossible possible by connecting people with friends, family and opportunities.

Finally, MTN Nigeria is 77.6% owned by Mobile Telephone Networks International Limited, with the balance of 22.4% share holding residing in the hands of Nigerian partners.


MTN have not only offered quality services to its subscribers but also to the development of Nigeria. Dr. Yronne Muthein, MTN’s Group Executive Corporate Affairs confirms this by expressing that: “We believe in being part of the fabrics of the society, communicating with them, sharing information and so on where we operate, rather than being a ‘silent partner’ who reaps the benefit of his investment but doesn’t get involved. We hope that this community we work with and give substance to aid our commitment to the African Economic Renaissance.”

MTN Nigeria invests N41.6 million in the year 2003 in various s corporate responsibility initiatives, focusing on sports, health, programmes with emphasis on women, children, HIV/AIDS, youth education, welfare and economy.


Through the use of communication efforts to create a sound corporate image, MTN committed itself to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the company also sponsored the procurement of two flow machines (equipments) that allows for effective diagnoses of the HIV/AIDS drugs therapy to the University College Hospital, Ibadan and the University of Jos Teaching Hospital. The machines are valued at N18 million.


It is a known fact that organizations are judged by their actions and what they do, thus MTN Nigeria in January 2003, began implanting the MTN Book Aid Initiative, an intervention aimed at bridging some of the short comings of the Nigerian educational system and this in turn gave a new face to her corporate image which could not have been achieved if effective communication had not played its role.

MTN also distributed wall charts on science subjects to secondary schools across the country, as well as inserting booklets on Mathematics and science in National Newspapers, Weekly. MTN has also sponsored over twenty children’s event aimed at alleviating the suffering of disadvantaged youths across the country.


In performing her social responsibilities, which in turn shapes her image, MTN in November 2002, revived the annual Lagos Marathon after an eight-year lull. The company spent over ninety eight point eight million naira in sponsoring the activities that led to a rebirth of this event known as the MTN Lagos International Half Marathon.

MTN was also a major sponsor of the All African Games (COJA) held in Nigeria, October 2003, and therefore communicated its image immensely. She also promises that in due course she will unveil a very comprehensive development programme for football.

  1. WELFARE: –

After the Lagos explosion in January 2002, MTN Nigeria who believes communication, saw the need and immediately provided a hundred and fifty phone lines to help relief workers co-ordinate their work. It also set a toll-free call centre providing free trauma counselling, rescue updates and information on missing relatives or friends.

In keeping its corporate image in check, MTN Nigeria co-ordinated and communicated a corporate fund raising drive spear headed by a telethon, on National television, donated food worth approximately N390 million to victims and sponsored shelters for fifty orphans.

That asides, the MTN/UBA x-change (an electronic wallet) is a medium aimed at bringing first class customer experience in Nigeria’s teaming populace, which will in turn shoot its image way beyond its imagination of which effective communication is not left out.


As in January 2002, when MTN Nigeria donated handsets, MTN lines and millions of naira worth of relief materials and participated towards the rehabilitation of people displaced in the Ikaja bomb blast, she proposed that, she will continue to be at the fore-front of providing succour and relief to Nigerians and assisting the government at various levels in discharging its obligations to the society (The punch, Monday, August 25th 2003:Pg 41).



It is essentially obvious that every organization needs a good image and the survival of any organization largely depends on the public’s approach, of which a recent report from the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) affirms that, a corporate image is a major part of what sells a company and its product, and this is achieved through an effective communication which involves the use of communication at all levels whether any organization is aware of it or not.

Therefore, in light of the above, the research work intends to clarify some questions like:

  1. Is communication an essential commodity in uplifting the image of any organization?
  2. To what extent has effective communication contributed to the corporate image of MTN Nigeria?
  3. What roles do the management play in an organizational setting?
  4. How effectively has communication been applied in MTN’s activities?
  5. What role has communication and the management to play in any image management?

Hardly can any corporate body survive with a battered or misunderstood image, it is therefore the aim of this study to throw more light on the power of effective communication in bringing to light, the image of an organization to its indispensable public with a little ingredient added to it “public relations”.

That aside, most of our mass media, like the radio, television, newspaper/magazines and so on are littered with communicated messages as regards what the public need to know about MTN Nigeria, its services, activities and information vital to the general publics.

Thus, this project work seeks to expose how MTN Nigeria which is the study of the project, has effectively applied communication in boosting its corporate image acceptable to its numerous publics.


The main thrust of this study is to draw to attention how communication can be applied effectively in an organization in portraying her image to its publics in a way that it bridges the communication gap between the two parties through the use of communication and a spice of public relation to create a lasting relationship with her publics and in return salvaging the image of the corporate body.

Again the study brings to light the importance of effective communication in building a desirable and reliable image, to reduce any benefit of doubt from its varying publics as regard the way the organization is perceived by the general public, of which the role of the management can not be over looked.


This study intends to find answers to the following research questions:

  1. How can communication pave a way for sound image management?
  2. What damage has lack of communication contributed to the image of MTN Nigeria?
  3. Which role does the management play in the image of MTN Nigeria?
  4. What measures can an organization take to maintain a resounding image to its customers.


  1. H0: Communication is not a vital ingredient in corporate image management.

H1:    Communication is a vital ingredient in corporate image management.

  1. H0: The management does not play an immense role in image management.

H1:    The management plays an immense role in image management.

  1. H0: Lack of communication has not been kept in check.

H1:    Lack of communication has been kept in check.

  1. H0: Good measures maintained overtime does not result to a resounding image.

H1:    Good measures maintained overtime results to a resounding image.


The effectiveness of communication in any corporate image management is viewed within the ambit of the social responsibility theory of the press.

The theory places emphasis on the moral and social responsibility of persons who and institutions which operate the mass media. Such responsibilities include, obligation to provide the public with information and discussion on important social issue and avoidance of activities harmful to the public welfare and security of the state.

Therefore, making most organizations conscious of the ethics and morals required of them in disseminating information, so as to build a reputable image, as in the case of MTN Nigeria.

It recognizes the rights of the people to information and thus the responsibility of media personnel to provide such information. The underlining principle of this theory is that “to whom much is given, much is expected in return”.


  1. COMMUNICATION: – Invariably, it is through two-way communication based on the belief that the management can expect to gain mutual understanding and goodwill, and in turn boost its image.
  2. CORPORATE IMAGE: – It is undeniably paramount to any organization’s survival, because it’s the impression which the company’s various audiences have with the corporate brand.
  3. MTN: – Mobile Telephone Network.
  4. MANAGEMENT: – The acquisition and optimum utilization of human and material resources to achieve the organizational objectives.
  5. EFFECTIVENESS: – it has to do with putting forward a planned outcome of a provocating communication that is two-way and in turn helps build up a company’s image.
  6. PUBLIC RELATIONS: – It aims at improving communication between the publics and the organization and to ensure nothing is done to harm the reputation (image) of any organization.


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