The purpose of this essay will be to critically assess the effectiveness of public relations and relationship marketing strategies in the successful promotion of an international event. Relationship marketing is a form of marketing that is mostly focused on customer retention and satisfaction. Relationship marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it focuses on establishing customer relationships by extending communication rather than using intrusive advertising and sales promotional messages (Egan 2008). The International Public Relations Association (IPRA) defines public relations as a deliberate and planned action that is directed towards maintaining the image of a company. The planned actions are usually directed towards the various publics of a company who include customers, suppliers, investors and employees. (Wilcox and Cameron 2007).
The international event that will be focused on in this essay will be the International Geneva Motor Show for 2011 which is an annual event that features various car brands displayed every year in the month of March at the Geneva Palexpo. The international auto show displays the latest internal combustion car models along with cars that are powered by steam, benzene, electricity and other alternative sources to fuel. Car prototypes as well as new auto equipment produced to enhance the maintenance of cars are also on display in the International Geneva Motor Show (Jordan 2008).
The purpose and goal of the 2011 international motor show will be to premier the latest car designs manufactured between the period of 2010 and 2011 as well as showcase the latest car technology and car accessories. The goal of the event will be to increase car sales during the show where various car consumers will have the opportunity to purchase or custom order car models they are interested in (Jordan 2008). Nine car categories will be featured in the seven exhibition halls of the Geneva Palexpo where 260 exhibitors representing over 700 car manufacturer brands will display their brands. The motor show will also feature 170 premiers of car models for both the production and concept cars category of the motor show event (Geneva Palexpo 2011).
The main organiser of the International Geneva Motor show 2011 is the Organization Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA) otherwise referred to as the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers which is based in Paris. OICA coordinates the activities of major car manufacturers around the world and it represents the interests of the global car industry. It also organizes various international car shows around the world such as the Auto Expo which takes place in New Delhi, India every year, the Seoul Motor Show which takes place in Seoul, the Hanover Motor Show in Germany and the Tokyo Motor show that takes place in Japan every odd year in November and the Geneva Motor Show (OICA 2011).
OICA will collaborate with the Comité Permanent du Salon International de l’Automobile which is the permanent organizing committee for international motor shows in organizing this year’s 81st edition of the International Geneva Motor Show (OICA 2011). The main stakeholders of this year’s 81st International Geneva Motor Show will include major car manufacturers from around the world: Tata, BMW, Rolls-Royce, Fiat, Kia, Toyota, Ford, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Audi, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Porsche, Jaguar, Opel, Jeep Cherokee and Peugeot. Other important stakeholders of the event will include car owners and collectors of both vintage and modernised car models manufactured by the various auto mobile brand names in the car industry as well as the public, the media and car enthusiasts (Geneva Motor Show 2011).
Relationship marketing has been used to identify car consumers and motor show enthusiasts who are interested in finding out the latest car model designs available in the auto mobile market. This form of marketing nurtures and manages a company’s interactions with its various stakeholders as it is based on the overall goal of finding, attracting and winning new clients while at the same time retaining the clients that the company already has (Little and Marandi 2003). The main goal of relationship marketing is to build and nurture customer relationships through the use of a combination of marketing efforts such as social media, public relations and strategic content (Christopher et al 2005).
Public relations on the other hand deals with maintaining a company’s image by building relationships with employees, customers, investors, suppliers and other individuals who have a vested interest in the company. Companies that want to maintain a clean image usually invest heavily in public relations activities where various strategies are used to building positive relationships (Hall 2007). As one of the purposes for conducting this study was to determine whether a link exists between public relations and relationship marketing, this paragraph will be devoted towards establishing that link.
Given that the definitions of the two concepts deal with establishing and maintaining relationships with the various clients of an organization, a possible connection or relationship between the two concepts might exist. The activities of public relations usually involve planning and sustaining efforts that are usually directed towards establishing and maintaining relationships with the various publics of an organization (Watson and Noble 2007). Relationship marketing on the other hand is focused on attracting, finding and retaining customers who form the public’s of public relations (Luck and Lancaster 2003).
Various researchers like Curtis (2000, cited by Luck and Lancaster 2003) have noted that public relations strategies have over the years changed their focus to developing long term relationships with the customers, employees and suppliers of the organization rather than developing short term strategies that will create a positive image for a company. Curtis believed that this long term strategy led to the creation of relationship marketing as a concept and framework that would be used for persuasive communication. While the general conceptual frameworks for the two were similar, their applications in the real world context were different where the strategies used for both concepts involved used different tools (PR: press releases, Relationship marketing: cross selling, cross promotions).
Marconi (2004) held the view that while public relations and relationship marketing were trying to achieve the same goal of building and maintaining relationships, they incorporated totally different strategies in achieving these goals. This perceived link between the two concepts leads to the next stage of the essay which is the public relations and relationship marketing activities that will be used in marketing and publicising the 81st annual motor show.
The Geneva Motor Show introduces various car models as the main attractions for the show. The major attraction for this year as has been noted by many car enthusiasts and bloggers is the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive which going by its name is a car model that allows the driver to read emails, download music, view real time displays in 3D and find a parking spot all at the same time. The 2-seater roadster will make its debut in the auto show and there has been a lot of hype created for this car model. Bloggers, Twitters and Facebook users have all commented the BMW Vision Connect is the car to look out for during the international motor show (Lienert 2011).
To ensure that the other car models featured in the event are not overlooked, the organizers of the event usually release photographs of the various car models that will be featured in the event to auto car websites, car bloggers and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace as well as a list of the cars that will be featured in the international event as well as links to these cars. The availability of 3D technology over the Internet will also make it possible for Internet users the world to view the various dimensions of the car models without having to view the cars physically (Geneva Motor Show 2011).
Another public relations strategy that the event organizers, OICA, will use to publicise the event will be the two press days set aside for various media houses in Geneva and from the international world to take photos of the various car models and designs on display in the auto show. These photo ops for the press are meant to increase more awareness for the motor show as journalists and car experts provide an analysis of what to expect in the event. International newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph and the New York Times have provided a description of what to expect from the international event.
The Daily Telegraph has for example identified the Audi A3 sedan and the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet to be the main car attractions for this year’s annual event and also the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback to be one of the newest introductions by Chevrolet to the international motor show (Gover 2011). The New York Times on the other hand identified car models from Fiat such as the Grand Voyager minivan and the Chrysler Lancia models to be the major crowd pullers during the event. The newspaper also noted that the BMW i and the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive were some of the car models that would be featured in the attractions category of the car show (Garrett 2011).
The relationship marketing strategy that will be used by OICA and Comité Permanent du Salon International de l’Automobile to market the show to both the domestic and international audience of the show will involve using major websites such as Yahoo and Google to identify online customers who will be interested in going for the motor event. The Geneva Motor Show website has also incorporated Facebook as part of its website links which provides an opportunity for millions of users who have an interest in cars and car technology to take part in the online forums for the show. According to Razmerita et al (2009) social networking sites and commonly used websites add value to a company’s marketing strategies enabling it to personalize its products and services so that they can meet the individual needs and preferences of customers.
The next section will involve identifying the various public relations and relationship marketing models that will be used by the event organizers. The four public relations models developed by Hunt and Grunig in 1984 that the organizers of the Geneva Motor Show can use to gain more publicity and awareness include the press agentry or publicity model, the public information model, the one-way asymmetrical model and the two way symmetrical model of public relations (L’Etang and Pieczka 2006). The most preferable model for publicising the 2011 edition of the Geneva Motor Show will be the press agentry or publicity model that will be used to persuade and influence the car enthusiasts to participate in the show.
The organizers of the event in collaboration with the press manager and exhibits manager have made a 2 day provision for members of the media to view the various car exhibits on display without members of the public. The media will be able to take photos of the newest designs of car models on display which they then use later to write stories and articles addressed to the public on what to expect in the event. The media will therefore act as the publicising agent for the event as it will provide a glimpse of the Geneva Motor Show to the general public (OICA 2011).
The relationship marketing model that will be used for the event will be the six markets model of relationship marketing developed by Christopher, Payne and Ballantyne in 1991. These three researchers identified the six markets that were central to relationship marketing to include supplier markets, internal markets of the organization, markets of influence, referrals, customer based and recruitment markets (Buhler et al). Appendix A depicts a diagrammatic representation of the six models approach to relationship marketing (Peck 1999). The application of the six markets model in marketing the Geneva Motor Show will be used in the social networking sites Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and also in You Tube and Yahoo online car shop to target the millions of users who tune in to these sites every day.
These users make up the customer, influencer and referral markets as they have the power to affect the choices and decisions of other users in social networking forums (Toney and Throgmartin 2009). As mentioned earlier in the essay, the Geneva Motor Show 2011 website has a link for Facebook users who can view the premier of the motor show online through their Facebook pages. The website offers its users a panoramic 360 degree view of every car model that has been featured in the 2011 edition of the motor show where users get to click and drag the pointer to view every part of the car (Geneva Motor Show 2011).
Relationship marketing will be used for the supplier markets (international car manufacturers), recruitment/employee markets (arena workers, exhibitors, guides and lady models) and internal markets (the organizers of the event; OICA and the permanent organizing committee) to gain enough member audiences that will participate in the event. According to media releases, the 2011 edition of the Geneva Motor Show is meant to showcase over hundreds of car models and accessories by leading car manufacturers in the world (Geneva Motor Show 2011).
To measure the effectiveness of the public relations models in publicising and creating awareness for the motor show event, Macnamara’s macro model of evaluation will be used to determine whether the models will be effective in successfully promoting the international event. The model will evaluate the inputs that the organizers of the event have put in to publicising and marketing the show which might include the contents of the Geneva Motor Show website, media releases and press coverage (Fairchild 2006). The output stage of the model evaluates the amount of publicity that was gained from the motor show which is measured by attendance and also online viewers who logged on to the Geneva Website. The outcomes section of the macro model will be used for observable results which will only be possible once the event is complete (Fairchild 2006). Appendix C provides a diagrammatic representation of Macnamara’s macro model of evaluation.
To evaluate the effectiveness of relationship marketing strategies, the return on relationships (ROR) evaluation tool will be used to determine the financial outcome of establishing relationships with the stakeholders of the event. The evaluation of ROR for this study will mostly be based on the success of this event in previous international motor shows which have recorded a huge attendance from thousands of motor car enthusiasts since the inception of the show in 1905. The organizers of the event predict that the turn out for this year will amount to over 700,000 visitors (OICA 2011).
The purpose of the essay was to assess the effectiveness of public relations and relationship marketing strategies in the successful promotion of an international event. The discussion identified the various public relations and relationship marketing strategies used by the organizers of the International Geneva Motor Show 2011 publicise the event to international car enthusiasts around the world. The public relations and relationship marketing strategies have been evaluated for their effectiveness as large numbers of people are expected to attend the event which is the 81st installation to be held since its inception in 1905.
Buhler, A., Chadwick, S., and Nufer, G., (2010) Relationship marketing in sports. Oxford, UK: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Egan, J., (2008) Relationship marketing: exploring relational strategies in marketing. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Fairchild, M., (2006) Evaluating public relations: a best practice guide to public relations planning, research and evaluation. Journal of Communication Management. Vol.10, No.1, pp 113-115.
Garrett, J., (2011) So many cars, so little time. The New York Times. Web.
Geneva Motor Show (2011) 81st International Motor Show and accessories.Web.
Geneva Palexpo (2011) The exhibitors. Web.
Gover, P., (2011) The future’s clear as crystal at Geneva. The Daily Telegraph. Web.
Hall, P., (2007). The New PR. New York: Larstan Publishing Jordan, F., (2008). Small is beautiful at the Geneva International Motor Show. Web.
L’Etang, J., and Pieczka, M., (2006) Public relations: critical debates and contemporary practice. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Lienert, P., (2011) BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept to debut at 2011 Geneva auto show.Web.
Little, E., and Marandi, E. (2003) Relationship Marketing Management. London, UK: Thomson Learning Luck, D., and Lancaster, G., (2003) E-CRM: customer relationship marketing in the hotel industry. Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 18, No.3, pp. 213-231.
Marconi, J., (2004) Public relations: the complete guide. Mason, Ohio: Thomson Higher Learning OICA (2011) Event information: Geneva, 81st international motor show (2011). Web.
Peck, H., (1999) Relationship marketing: strategy and implementation. Oxford, UK: Butterworth-Heinemann Razmerita, L., Kirchner, K., and Sudzina, F., (2009) Personal knowledge management: the role of web 2.0 tools for managing knowledge at individual and organizational levels. Online Information Review, Vol. 33, No.6, pp 1021-1039.
Toney, M.S., and Throgmartin, R.T., (2009) Make a fortune selling DVD’s on the Internet: start making money now! New York: Michael Toney Publishers.
Watson, T. & Noble, P. (2007) Evaluating Public Relations: A Best Practice Guide to Public Relations Planning, Research and Evaluation. 2nd Edition. Philadelphia: Kogan Page Limited.
Wilcox, D. L. & Cameron, G. T. (2007) Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics. 8th Edition. Boston: Pearson Education Limited.
Appendix A: The Six Markets Model of Relationship Marketing
Appendix B: BMW Vision ConnectedDrive
Appendix C: Macnamara’s Model of Evaluation