Public Relations and Relationship Marketing Essay Sample

            The paper provides a discussion about the Public relations (PR) and Relationship Marketing (RM) as marketing strategies of the Hospital industry. It first starts with the look at PR  and then RM. It follows the order of first giving definitions, their emergence and then examples are provided as implemented in the hospital industry on evaluating their effectiveness. The paper is concluded with the relationship between PR  and RM, and lastly the recommendations on PR and RM activities.

            The concept Public relation has been given quite a number of definitions by various scholars  in the modern public relation’s History. They have given varied definitions, metaphors and approaches to the subject. The pioneer in the field of public relations, Ivy Lee was not sure on how to define the subject but rather focused much on honesty, understanding and the need to make necessary adjustments on ensuring effective interrelations of public and business. The definition given by Edward Bernays shared a common idea of adjustments as given by Ivy Lee. He defined PR as an attempt by the use of information, persuasion and adjustments that are meant to sway the public support for an activity, cause, movement or institution.

Cultip et al., 1985, defined the concept of PR as the management function that is meant to identify, establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and the various public on whom its performance dependents. The established conclusions from various studies in the field of PR show that the consumer perception of an organisation, that is build by PR determines the  consumer satisfaction, evaluation, behavioral intent and the actual behaviors of the consumers. The studies that show these relationship are the ones that have mostly been carried on student-school and bank-customer relationships. For instant, in the case for the Bank-customer relationship, the customers who remain are the ones who experience a high level of PR perception. According to Ledinghan and Bruning, 1998, they realized that, in the corporations where the  consumers were aware of the customer- organization relationship, the corporation was likely to experience increased loyalty, that enable the corporation to attain high level of income through an increased market share on the attaining the organization’s objectives. Coombs, 2001, argued also that its through the organization’s plan to cultivate PR that will ensure consumer loyalty and satisfaction.

            Another definition was provided  by Harlow in the mid 1970s, that condensed 472 definitions into one and involving 65 practitioners of the field. He defines PR as the distinct management function that enable organizations to establish and to maintain mutual communications, understanding, acceptance and co-operation between the organization and the public. It involves the management of issues that are meant to inform the management about the public opinion. The management through PR will gather information that will enable them to serve the public better.

            The PR concept has been evolving since 1920s to the current. Following the review provided by Harlow in the 1970s, PR was used by organization for the purpose of building and holding goodwill in the first two or three decades of the century. The intensive use of PR started in the 1920s and 30s, where it was regarded as a guide to social conduct. PR was also regarded as a goodwill developer, a builder of public opinion, a motivator, a persuader, a clarifier, and a social and political engineer, as provided by Harlow. In the 1950s and 1960s more roles were attributed to PR, that were given in the form of metaphors that included the regarding of PR  a lubricant, pilot, catalyst, spotlight, interpreter and the devil advocate. A second review that was carried out by Stuart Ewen on the PR history in the mid 1990s noted additional metaphors that were meant to define PR as an educator, creator and manipulator of symbols, news engineer, publicity doctors perception manager and as a middle person.

            There are three dimensions of PR as provided by Hutton,1999. They include interest, initiative and image. Interest tries to  answer the question of to what degree is the public relations function focused on client interest versus the public interest, that is, which side is emphasized more by the organization.  An organisation is expected to take an appropriate stand on the opposing interests between the client and the public. Initiative tries to answer the question on the extent to which the PR function reactive versus pro-active. This dimension is applicable in situations where an organization intend or is designing some policies that are meant to shape the emergence of the organization’s issues. The practices that involve proactive reactions include stakeholder survey, communication audit, crisis planning, issue management and strategic communication planning. Image tries to answer the question on the extent to which an organization is focused on perception versus reality. Perception and image, however seem to be interdependent. The dimension relates thoughts and actions of the organization.

            PR is an important factor in organizational more especially in industries that have become major economic activities, because it enables increased level of income.  For example, PR was never perceived  being significant in the hospital industry till later times. The tourism and hospital industry has become a major economic activity, following  the evolution in the use of leisure time, that attributes greater value to free time. The industry’s significance has been reinforced by the evolution of the tourist behavior that has induced change and introduced new meaning of leisure. The market potential of the industry however seem not to have been full tamed despite the opportunities within the industry. The failure in the market   is attributed to the the way in which marketing is done where much is focused on the outlet than the focus on the consumer. Most of the marketing strategies have been related to the products. The situation pose a challenge to the firms  to change their focus by redefining their policies so as to accommodate the changes in the industry.

            The consumer behaviors have grown complex over time and more especially in the tourism and hospital industry, that call for a specialized attention on ensuring consumer satisfaction. This is important  given the nature of the nature of the industry. The tourist and hospital industry offers a wide range of products for consumption in the bars, restaurants, hotels, parks, casinos and cruise ships. This institutions offers an increasingly complex consumption opportunities depending on the complexion of the consumers. The industry has grown and it has attained a large scale operation. The complexion of the industry imply that the industry in meant to evolved to become more qualitative, more demanding and more varied.

            PR serves an important role in shaping the organisation’s public perception, that involves the establishment of the cohesive set of images and meanings for experience. This is enhanced through the well spelled theme of the organisation that enable the consumers to speculative on what they expect form a given brand name. The well spelled themes are enabled through enhanced consistency in operations, marketing communications, materials and employees. A poorly spelled theme leave the consumers with less memories about the experience in the organization.

            Given the significance of the organization spelling its theme nicely, the organization is expected to design the supportive activities, that is, the cues that are supposed to help in the realizing of the theme. An organization is supposed to harmonize the positive cues and eliminate the bad cues. The cues need to be consistent with the theme if success was to be realized. The elimination of the bad cues implies the attempt by the marketers to get rid of the factors that are likely to distract the unity of the theme. For example, in the Disney company, its cast members are always in character. The company’s entire experience can be tainted by a single inconsistent message, thus the need to eliminate the possibility for such message occurring. The experience that the consumers attain from a given firm in the hospital and tourism industry creates the interest for customer to come for the services again or advocate for the other person consumer to receive the services from the same firm. Thus, the theme of organizations should be spelled and reinforced through the adaptation of positive cues only. The experience of consumers reinforce the relationship of the consumer and the organization, and more especially when its was good.

            The significance of public relations in an organization at times receive a draw back, more especially when the consumers do not believe in what an organisation is saying due to lack of trust in the organization. This follow from the fact that the consumers are certain to evaluate the motive behind the organization’s PR. The mistrust  arises when they perceive the organization as being egoistic, profit maximizing or avoiding punishment. All these have an impact of tainting the firm’s reputability. The mistrust also arises when the consumers become skeptic over the honesty of the organizations and their fairness in carrying out PR activities. The bad brand image also restrain the achievements of  PR objectives and more especially on creating brand loyalty.

            Following the above argument, organizations are expected to take a social responsibilities, that is, the cooperate social responsibility, on showing that it is not all PR activities that are egoistic. The Cooperate social responsibility  can be perceived as the company’s long term footprint in society, that is meant to improve the welfare of the persons who are affected by its activities  on ensuring ecological and social sustainability. The Cooperate social responsibilities promote the organization’s reputability in the long-term and hence improved trust.

            The significance for taking the corporate social responsibility in the hospitality industry, can be expressed by the example of the European Community Network for Environmental Travel and Tourism, that was formed  by the union of the International Hostel Environment Initiative and the World Travel and Tourism Council. This union was formed on the recognition of the importance of environmental issues in relation to the customers, pressure groups and legislative. They identified global warming, depletion of ozone layer, acid rain, and the pollution of land and water resources as the main concerns. The concern of the union followed from the impact of their operations on the environment.  This was meant to create the public trust.

            PR can therefore be considered as a link between an organisation and the public, which is meant to promote the organization in it attaining its objectives including the realization of profits. The consumers are king in the market, because it is through their acceptability of the products that an organization in an industry let say tourism and hospitality can realize profitability. The relation is important because it creates brand loyalty that is certain to affect the organisation’s performance positively. PR is important in the Hospitality industry given the nature of the industry and the complexity that arises from the varied demands of the consumers. PR to ensure consumer satisfaction. The PR activities are at times restrained by the mistrust of the customers on the organization, but can be overcome by the organization considering the participation in the social cooperate responsibilities. Following the significance of PR in the hospitality industry, the paper now  turns to the look at the Relationship marketing(RM)

            Relationship marketing is defined as being an integrated effort to identify, maintain and build a long-term relationship between the consumers and the organization, where the relation is meant to mutually benefit  both parties.  This is enhanced through interactive, individualized and value added contacts that are meant to last for a long period of time.

            The emergence of the RM has been described  by various authors, where most of them base their argument on the economics of customer retention and the ineffectiveness of the mass media to help the customers in decision making. The media is also regarded as not providing useful dialogue.

            The scope of RM has been addressed by many authors that include Christopher et al., Doyle(1995), Kotler (1995), Morgan and Hunt(1994) and Webster (1992). For instance, according to Christopher et al., the scope of RM include the development and the management of relationships within six markets that  constitute internal, customer, referral, supplier, influencer and employee recruitment markets. The customer market is perceived to be the most important market.

            The customer relationship seem to be quite important in an organization, and this follows from the strong relationship that exists between consumer satisfaction and loyalty, more especially in a service setting like in the case for restaurants. For instance, when the restaurants patrons are satisfied, they are likely to translate the satisfaction into loyalty, implying that customer satisfaction is important in the business operations in hospitality industry. The customer satisfactions enable the customers to recognize positive emotions they experienced during the offering of the services that increases the customer’s level of involvement.

            It is significant to retain the old customer, because the old customers seem to be cheap to maintain than the new ones. This was established by Bowen and Shoemaker(2003), when they found out that the marketing costs are likely to decline by an organisation having loyal customers because of the less marketing requirements to maintain the current customers. The loyal customers also promote the reputability of the company through the partnership-like-activities that include the offering of a strong word of mouth, making of business referrals, giving references, publicity and serving in the organization’s advisory board. The creation of customer loyalty is important in ensuring market share gains other than marker growth gains, more especially in mature industries.

            RM is an important practice in the hospitality industry and more especially following the success of hotels in China and Taiwan. For example the Chinese practise of Guanxi. Guanxi implies to the social interaction within the networked group, where repeated favour exchange promote the trust among the participants of the network. It applies to all the spheres of human interactions. It allow interactions that are meant to enhance mutual benefits among the participants. In business, and especially in marketing, Guanxi offer an insight to relationship marketing practitioners,because it provide an opportunity over which the participants interact harmoniously for a longer time.

            The building of loyalty among the customers  in the hospital industry can be attained by the hotel management gathering information from the customers either by them providing information about their expectations or providing information about their experience in the organization. The providing of information about their expectations provide the hotel with the information about the best way to treat customers, whereas information concerning their experience provide the hotel management with the information on how to improve customer satisfaction, hence the creation of loyalty. The hotel can also train their staff on how to inquire about the best treats to ensure customer satisfaction. This is a base for relationship marketing. The high level of such relationship is like Guanxi.

            There has been success in the Taiwanese hotels such as the Royal Hotel, Shangri La Hotel and Ambassador Hotel because of the loyalty programmes that are associated with the RM, as explained by Gilbert and Tsao. The hotels claimed the success of their loyalty programmes because of the high returning rate of their loyalty scheme members.

            The other strategy of RM involve the hospitality companies engaging in a communal relationship with the customers. For instance, the TGI Friday’s rewards and the Hilton’s points for business traveler. This is ensured by targeting specific groups. The other form of RM involve the direct participation of the management like in the Quick serving restaurant where a manger can have walk to the visitors’ dining site to order a refill and have a chat with customers. Thus an avenue to create loyalty.

            The effectiveness of RM is not guaranteed at all times because at times it may not work as expected. This affects especially the Quick Service restaurant, in the case where customers have a low preference to some products and in the case where customers are likely to stay in the business premises for little time. Some products may have a health hazard if taken in excess, that is, likely to cause obesity. This makes it had to develop relationships with the customers.

            The QSR can however overcome the limitation inherent in the RM by ensuring  customer satisfaction once the customers are in the restaurants. This will promote loyalty that will in turn ensure retention of customers. The RM seem to be an invaluable resource that enable the winning of the customers’ trust. The companies are expected to handle the relationships attained with care if they except the relationships to stay. The companies should ensure customer satisfaction, brandy equity and loyalty.

            There is a relationship between PR and RM as tools for enhancing increased demand of a given company’s products. The relationship between the two will be discussed later. The initial statements about PR were ignored by management even though they created a longterm effect of goodwill building. The ignoring arose due to inaccurate evaluation of the impact and it does not have immediate results. The effects are certain to be more subtle and seen in terms of consumer behavior a longer time in the future.

            At the current times a number of companies are moving from PR to RM, where consumer informations are stored in a database and updated regularly. The benefits for the shift is to enhance a longterm focus and to recognize the significance of PR. It provide a means for the measure of certain PR efforts.

            Both PR and RM seem to be tools for ensuring increased demand for an organisation. They all consider the consumer relation as the base for ensuring good performance. An organization requires both PR and RM on the assumption that the organization is increasing in terms of operation capacity and it is there to infinity. PR will ensure the future demands and new customers where RM will ensure the retention of the already acquired customers, hence both reinforcing the other.

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