Public Relations

Introduction

Public relations refer to the act of maintaining, fostering, and improving relationships between an organization and other stakeholders. It involves raising the company’s authority, building connections with key people, and upholding the business reputation. An organization might be effective but will not have the desired impact if the public and consumers are not aware of its brand, successes or contributions. The coca-cola company is an example of a company that has applied the concept of public relations in its operations successfully. Public relations aim at educating and informing people about the contributions, or the business promotes its brand recognition and makes it more appealing in the public eye.   

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The coca-cola company is a manufacturer of non-alcoholic beverages. Below are some of the ways in which the organization used public operations to create a brand and influence public opinion.

Media Relations

Media strategies involve circulating information through media channels to control how the media portray an individual’s business.  The coca-cola company uses media tools including releasing media statements and fact sheets, conducting on-site media tours to encourage media persons to paint a positive picture about the company, and attracting the attention of journalists through social media platforms and tracking those who report in the non-alcoholic beverages market (Gaither & Austin, 2016). The media can be used to promote business, manage risks and issues facing a company.

Advertorials

Advertorials are advertisements in the form prepared in the form of reviews or news stories in newspapers. They allow business people to link their adverts with the credibility of the newspapers. Like many other businesses, the coca-cola company employs advertising or marketing experts to assist them in developing television advertorials that are commonly used as adverts or product placements.

Social media

The popularity of using social media in business continues to grow every day. Social media allows organizations to bypass the media and interact directly with consumers. The coca-cola company uses social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to respond to customer issues and thus makes it possible for different individuals, including journalists, to follow the company. They help organizations to responds to criticisms or negative perceptions and even increase the exposure of a business brand.

Newsletters

The coca-cola company also uses print and emailed letters to promote their products, communicate with different stakeholders, and inform them of new products from the company. By maintaining regular newsletters, a business can strengthen personal relationships with customers and portray the right brand image and personality. Detailed but concise newsletters offer valuable information to customers. 

Brochures and Catalogues 

The company also issues “take-home” brochures or catalogues, which help customers to remember the products of the company and the different varieties that are available and which are suitable for different occasions. For instance, the company has recently focused on producing brochures and sending mail-outs advertising the suitability of the two-litre coca-cola drink, which is both cheap and convenient for family functions. Properly designed brochures instil confidence in the organization and the brand and thus motivate customers to visit the organization’s stores. 

Business events

Different organizations take advantage of activities to promote their businesses and provide accurate information to the customers. Events give salespeople opportunities to clear customer doubts and enhance customer confidence. Business people use events to research the market, learn strategies of competitors, and prepare a mailing list. The coca-cola company develops and disseminates marketing materials during events as a way of collecting data and customers’ information. Trade shows also provide a platform for competing organizations in the industry to share information. The company is also prone to presenting a company’s logo or name in events either as sponsors or collaborators. 

Speaking engagements 

Speaking at events is another public relations strategy of promoting a company as it helps the company with an opportunity to position itself as a leader. Business leaders build their reputation as it helps build the reputation of the company too and thus attracts more customers to the business. The company uses such engagements to deliver presentations about new products. Besides, speaking in engagements helps company representatives to interact with other stakeholders in the company, thus providing valuable networking opportunities.     

Sponsorships or partnerships

Engaging and sponsorships are also a good way of selling the business to the public. For instance, supporting a not-for-profit organization can draw the feelings of the community members towards a company (Moss, Likely, Sriramesh, & Ferrari, 2017). The coca-cola company involves in community programs in various ways, including exchanging of funds or providing in-kind benefits to support particular communities or even sponsor sports activities in some regions. Conversely, partnerships help customers to identify a business brand with good ethics.

Employee relations

Employees are an integral part in developing and promoting a business brand. Experts encourage business owners to conduct employee relations and build an organization culture by sharing information to all employees of a company, promoting involvement, and encouraging employees to feel a sense of belonging in the organization. The strategy involves considering employees as ambassadors of the company and investing resources in promoting teamwork, staff productivity, and ensuring that staff are portraying a positive image and delivering the right message about the company to the community.     

Community relations

Community relations are a method of gaining customer loyalty. Organizations endeavour to build good connections within the community within which the company is located. The process also involves researching how your customers in the community live and engaging in activities aimed at improving the living conditions of members of the community. Companies also engage local stakeholders and influential people in the community to help build the profile of the company, promote the level of influence, and thus help attract more customers. The coca-cola company engages in various community activities, especially sports and singing and dancing competitions as a way of promoting community activities.

Ways in which the coca-cola company is adapting to the social media sites and other avenues in the 21st century.

The coca-cola company has identified new ways of remaining relevant in the non-alcoholic beverages industry even though the market seems to be slowly turning away from sugary drinks like soda. The company has integrated marketing techniques employing both traditional and new media to create unique advertisements that promote a brand story across several channels. Using social media in marketing has allowed the company to engage younger generations and initiate a call of action. The company has perfected the art of using personalized content and innovative delivery system to increase the company’s popularity.  Below are some of the social media tactics employed by the company.

  1. Building central campaigns- the company creates ads that focus on specific events such as the Olympics or holidays like Easter. The ads are inclusive and aim to unite audiences from different regions around a central concept. The company also creates a personalized brand experience for their customers by creating individualized bottles whereby they included people’s names on different drinks.
  2. Crowdsourcing- Crowdsourcing refers to the act of taking advantage of user-generated content for an organization’s social profile. Coke engages its fans in identifying marketing strategies through social media (Ashley & Tuten, 2015). Their fans participate in uploading different content to the company’s sites, and the company considers them in creating ads. The company established relationships with supporters and then turned the connection to the company’s benefit.  A good example was the label ”Share a Coke with” which encouraged American teens to share their experiences online.
  3. Interact directly- Coke makes individuals feel important by responding to comments, re-posting fun content, and interacting with fans. The company operates on the principle that communication goes two-way and thus replies by appreciating positive comments on social media and providing explanations on negative comments.
  4. Measuring the company’s success-Coke crafts marketing strategies by considering the views of their fans. The company manages to embrace new social media platforms in a bid to increase their fan base. The approach has proved successful as it shows fans that the company is adventurous.
  5. Understanding the audience- Coke prepares appealing content and which their fans find easy to share and thus enhances the ability of the ads to go viral.  To find out what is appealing the company researches to understand their audience and what they may like and incorporates the findings during implementation. The company uses information regarding its customers and applies it to make decisions. For example, previously, Coke supplied vending machines which delivered different goods including flowers and foot-long subs to a college campus in New York intending to promote happiness. 

Furthermore, the company understands the negative impact that may result from the misuse of social media and thus has the guidelines below those representatives of the company have to follow to help protect the reputation of the company. The representatives are reminded that:     

  1. The companies policies regarding information still apply
  2. They are responsible for their actions and thus should use sound judgment and common sense
  3. They operate on behalf of the company and should, therefore, disclose the information in their interactions
  4. Representatives should be careful when responding to crucial topics, and such issues can only be responded to with approved messaging prepared by the company for the issues. They are also advised not to post whenever they are in doubt. 
  5. Representatives are also required to be conscientious when mixing business and personal matters. 

Crisis at Coca Cola Company

Recently, the company came under criticism after a local newspaper charged that the company was funding obesity research which attempted to disprove the connection between obesity and diet and that the condition resulted from lack of exercise (Gertner & Rifkin, 2018). The article indicated that the company was desperate to stop the campaign as it was affecting their sales and thus funded a non-profit organization. The company aimed to deflect the issue that soft drinks enhanced the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. 

In response, the company CEO admitted that they had taken actions to fund scientific research and well-being programs, but the move had resulted in more mistrust and confusion. The company used the strategy below to handle the crisis.

  1. Acknowledged the company’s involvement in the research- The company assumed responsibility for the situation. The CEO acknowledged the accusations that it had given incorrect information to the public regarding its support for scientific research. 
  2. The CEO addressed the situation- Given that the event was crucial to the public interest, the CEO was the most appropriate spokesperson in such a case. Showing that the CEO had an interest in the problem helped to win the public and thus would not impact negatively to the company compared to if they shielded him.
  3. The CEO directed the president of Coke in North America to create a committee on independent experts who would guide the company’s investments in matters of academic research. Moreover, the president would engage experts to identify opportunities for research and health initiatives.
  4. More measures to gain the public interest back involved taking out full-page ads, directing people to the company’s website to view the findings of different research financed by the company.

Compare and Contrast Characteristics of Public Relations Campaigns for Coca Cola and Not-for-profit organizations.

Similarities

Specific Objective

An excellent public relations campaign for both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations must have a clear objective. The main goals of public relations campaign include creating awareness of a specific product or brand. For instance, the Coca Cola company could conduct a public relations campaign to promote the sales of the two-litre coke drink or the National women’s alliance campaigning for the government to reduce taxes.

Deliver a message

Public relations requires the provision of a clear message for the organization to communicate. It is advisable that the message to be communicated be clear and concise and should neither be ambiguous nor lose its meaning.  The message is not only meant to inform the audience but also acts as a call for action.

Target audience

 Public relations need to target a particular audience. A specific campaign should target a specific group of individuals who are most likely to take the desired action. For a company, this could be a group of consumers that are likely to buy a particular product. For example, the coca-cola company targeted the teenagers with the “share a coke” campaign as teens use the internet more than other age groups.

Differences

1.     Products from non-organizations are more useful when they target the overall audiences and not specific audiences. For example, a campaign to control road accidents would target all drivers to drive safely. On the contrary, products from for-profit organizations target a particular group of people who are most likely to consume the product. 

2.     The focus of for-profit organizations is mainly on consumers and shareholders whereas the focus of non-profit organizations is on a broad group of stakeholders including shareholders, regulatory bodies, customers, supply chain partners, and employees among other parties. 

References

Ashley, C., & Tuten, T. (2015). Creative strategies in social media marketing: An exploratory study of branded social content and consumer engagement. Psychology & Marketing, 32(1), 15-27.

Gaither, B. M., & Austin, L. (2016). Campaign and corporate goals in conflict: Exploring company-issue congruence through a content analysis of Coca-Cola’s twitter feed. Public Relations Review, 42(4), 698-709.

Gertner, D., & Rifkin, L. (2018). Coca‐Cola and the Fight against the Global Obesity Epidemic. Thunderbird International Business Review, 60(2), 161-173.Moss, D., Likely, F., Sriramesh, K., & Ferrari, M. A. (2017). Structure of the public relations/communication department: Key findings from a global study. Public Relations Review, 43(1), 80-90.

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