1. From McDonald’s perspective, identify the key publics the company should take into account in order to improve its performance on social responsibility. Give brief reasons for your answers.In this section it will address the key publics involved and the remedial actions that McDonald can initiate in order to improve its performance on social responsibility.However, before pursuing it even further, the definition shall be provided for better understanding to the concept of public within the context of public relations and specifically the key publics of McDonald’s corporation.
Publics, according to Johnston and Zawawi are defined as any group of people who share interests and concerns. (2004, p.4). They further mention that Publics can be internal and external. An internal public is the group of public that exists within an organisation. These can be employees of an organisation, members of a group or club, or volunteers of a non-profit group. External publics are all others-including customers, community groups, lobby groups, the mass media, voters, competitors, legislators and other special interest groups.
Another required definition is social responsibility. Johnston and Zawawi states that to fulfill expectations and moral obligations at the level of society… social responsibilities, professionals are expected to do more than provide knowledge and skilled services; they are “held responsible for improving the institutions administering those services”(2004, p.146) Knowing this, the first public to McDonald’s that should be addressed is the children and issues of obesity. The reason being is that there are cases in America of obese children suing McDonalds for their weight issues as mentioned by Condon, are one of the problems that have surfaced for McDonald’s.
However, Condon also mentions that McDonald’s should not take the whole blame for the obesity in children of McDonald’s because it is up to the parents to curb it McDonald’s have also made efforts which are included in their recent press release (April 15, 2004) with regards to the issues of obesity that McDonald’s today unveiled an unprecedented, comprehensive balanced lifestyles platform to help address obesity in America and improve the nation’s overall physical well-being. McDonald’s multi-year plan, focusing on children and adults, promotes the importance of balance and includes significant efforts in the areas of food choices, physical activity and education.
With regard to advertisements and its influences to the children, McDonald’s has also addressed this issue with its advertisers, one of its key publics. As stated by Manchester News, The new adverts feature the chain’s Ronald McDonald mascot, plus the Yums, characters “who live in everyone’s tummy”. They use song and dance to promote four key messages to children and their parents: keep fit, eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, drink plenty of fluids and “not to have too many treats” (2004) Therefore by addressing this it is hoped that this should influence the children in their selection of food at McDonald’s.
Another key public that McDonald’s should focus on dealing with regards to improving their social responsibility is dieticians in other parts of the world where they have yet to address, since McDonald’s is already placing this into practice in Australia with their collaborations with the Food Group of Australia using canola oil, which promotes better health, that was developed by their other key publics The Food Group Australia and Goodman Fielder consumer Foods, adding items into their menus, salads plus, alternative Happy Meals to name a few (2004) all in the cause for better health and a balanced lifestyle, in their media releases, this information located at McDonalds.com Australian site.
McDonalds should take into account is the environmentalists and vegetarians that have been making allegations against McDonalds with regards to the rearing and slaughtering of animals and their complaints about McDonald’s not being environmentally friendly. For example, McDonald’s USA curbed this by listing their alliances with credible companies and what they have done which is the usage of HFC refrigerators in their restaurants to increase their performance on social responsibility. McDonald’s Canada site they have also stressed that if suppliers do not respect McDonald’s rain forest policy they shall immediately discontinue them.
Morgan Spurlock is another key public that McDonald’s should address due to the fact that according to thefreedictionary.com, his documentary has caused negative publicity for McDonald’s with suggestions that McDonald’s food was contributing heavily to the rash of obesity in American society. Subsequent to the showing of the film at the Sundance Film Festival, McDonald’s phased out its Supersize meal option, though no link to the film was made in this decision.
However McDonald’s sites have counter attacked this phenomenon with the availability of McDonald’s internet sites that contain information and one illustration of this is the United Kingdom site of McDonald’s with the article entitled a balanced diet, a balanced debate, especially catered to the issue of Super size me, McDonald’s provides other alternatives to eating with the variety in fruits and salads available, to their involvement to children charities and heightened awareness of societal needs in relation to encouraging healthy lifestyle through sponsoring of sports events being involved in which proves that there level of awareness has heightened with regard to social responsibility.
2. Using the four models of public relations as a framework (Grunig and Hunt 1984), provide and analysis of McDonald’s approach to its corporate communication in recent years. Do you believe there have been any significant changes over this period? This section of the question shall list the definitions of the four models of public relations by Grunig and Hunt, and include examples and the changes that have been made in the past decade towards McDonald’s approach with regards to its corporate communication.