This document will provide a rationale and critical analysis of the strategic approach taken to the public relations campaign plan developed for Ginger Days. It will demonstrate the theoretical framework used to inform the plan and provide support for the campaign planning decisions. The role of public relations Ginger Days is a newly established events management company seeking to form a strong presence in the corporate arena.
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As an organisation that currently does not specifically recognise public relations within management activities, Ginger Days offers much scope for, and stands to benefit through the formalization of such a function. The current priority need of Ginger Days is a cost effective plan that will serve to establish strong relationships with corporate clientele. Such a plan can be facilitated through public relations, a tool that serves to “establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and its publics on whom its success or failure depends,” (Cutlip et al. 1999, p.6)
Macpherson (lecture 2 slide 8) argues that when used effectively, public relations can devise an appropriate course of action towards the successful achievement of long-term goals of the organisation. The six-step PR process recommended will be applied to the campaign for Ginger Days. Simply these steps are: 1. Thorough research into the organisation and its operational environment. 3. Establishment of goals for the organisations. 4. Review of strategic options. 5. Selection and implementation of strategies. 6. Evaluation of strategies.
The public relations function is best placed to deal with corporate strategy of an organisation, including diversification and acquisitions (Kitchen 1997, p.52). However, as a new business, Ginger Days has not developed sufficiently to be considering such strategies in the short term. Rather, it is trying to define business boundaries and establish a platform on which to create a corporate presence. Therefore, the six steps detail above will be applied to business unit strategy, serving to advise the client on cost effective leadership and promote factors that differentiate the organisation within its competitive market, (Kitchen 1997, p.52). Departmental strategy will also constitute a major focus. Specifically attention will be given to the marketing approach and the allocation of human and financial resources of Ginger Days.
As modern organisations must closely monitor expenditures to remain economically and competitively viable, all business functions, not least PR, are subject to a high level of accountability. This observation is particularly pertinent to Ginger Days, where there is a lack of reliable cash flow, and financial and human resources are very limited. Due to such factors, a scientific management approach will be taken to all public relations activities. As noted by Broom and Dozier (1990, p. 39) such an approach is strictly goal oriented and focuses on a bottom line perspective. Primary attention is given to the areas of research and planning. This ensures resulting strategies are likely to be effective in achieving objectives devised from correctly identified issues.
As Ginger Days is not large enough to fund a full time, in house arm of public relations, through employing Arc PR, Ginger Days will benefit from the experience, flexibility objectivity offered by an external consultancy (Macpherson: lecture 2 slide 21). As the business expands and becomes established interstate, there is greater opportunity for the development of an in-house PR department. Such a department would offer the benefits of a full-time, on hand service with full knowledge of corporate culture and direct access to information and key decision makers.
Overview of research According to Baskin et al. (1997, p127) research is a vital component in the public relations process and serves to form the necessary informational base from which an effective PR plan can be devised. “It provides the initial input to guide strategy and message development and provides a method for predicting effectiveness and assessing results.” Without research, practitioners can only act on “hunches and past experiences” which do not serve adequately to maintain organisational viability in a competitive market such as the one in which Ginger Days exists.
Hendrix (2002, p.12) writes that before research is conducted, it is important to identify the best sources and the most effective way of retrieving information. This is necessary as pursuing unproductive research avenues consumes both time and money. Time and finance were major limitations in conducting research into the organisational situation of Ginger Days. Due to these restrictions, research methods were chosen on their short-term information return and cost. Formal, informal, primary, secondary and qualitative research was conducted in the form of desk audits, depth interviews and sample surveys. Five major areas were investigated in accordance with Macpherson’s recommendations for a comprehensive organisational audit (Macpherson lecture 3 slides 11-16).
Organisational Situation Hendrix (2002, p.12) identifies orgainisation situation as a major area for research. He suggests a thorough understanding of every organisational aspect is necessary in order to effectively identify strengths and weaknesses. GOAL At present the priority goal of Ginger Days is to expand the business to a point whereby two permanent consultants can be employed in both Brisbane and Sydney.
It must be noted here that while staff are aware of the general mission of the organisation, Ginger Days has not yet formulated a formal mission statement with a precise explanation of the company’s reason for existence. Pinkleton and Austin (2001, p.16) highlight the importance of a mission statement, noting it “ensures everyone with whom the organisation has a relationship has a clear understanding of what the company has on its list of priorities.” In consideration of this, the absence of a mission statement for Ginger Days is a substantial weakness.
As a new business yet to establish a strong presence, Ginger Days exists on a relatively small turnover. Therefore, the availability of financial and human resources with which to expand the business is limited. Furthermore, research regarding expenditure and return has revealed inefficient resource allocation regarding promotional activities.
The organisational structure of Ginger Days is simple and hierarchically flat. Open communication between management and staff is actively pursued and all staff have constant input to the decision making process. Final responsibility for organisational decisions and resource allocation rests with Kellie Cameron, manager and sole full time staff member. Macro environment Baskin et al. (1997, p122) note that the constant monitoring of the macro environment is the fastest growing category of public relations research due to the fact that “organisations must consider themselves as dynamic, open systems that must react to changes in the environment.” Research conducted into this area revealed trends, changes and facts pertinent to the operation and development of Ginger Days.