Three Peas in a Pod

Today, I’ve officially qualified for my Green Ps. After a year carrying one passenger, abiding my road rules and P-plater limitations, I’ve managed to cross the line without a speeding fine or any other license infringement. When I think back to doing my test a year ago, I was acutely aware of what each road sign meant, that you should always stop at an unbroken line and to always drive at least a few kilometres under the advised speed limit. I’m proud to say that 365 days later, I still feel pretty confident abiding by these laws. The two skills I’m yet to master competently are parallel parking and driving with/around trams. Trams are so confusing. Aside from the ugly power lines that skyline the city, their inconvenience to fellow road users are ridiculous. Why do they stop so much, at such inconvenient places?

I’m well aware of the benefits of public transport across the spectrum of pollution, reduced road traffic, carbon emissions etc. I am all for public transport. I just don’t like driving within a tram’s vicinity.

My tutorial for Strategic Public Relations today focused on a hypothetical strategic plan for Pizza Hut. We were to come up with target publics, relevant objectives (informational, attitudinal and behavioural), and then tactics on how to implement the plan with a budget of $150 000. I had difficulty with the concept of the proposal from the start as I would never consider a meal from Pizza Hut a healthy option. Nevertheless, the idea was based upon the pizza brand introducing a new, healthier range that could be marketed to improve sales and change the brand’s image as a fast food company. In my group of four, these were our target publics:

  • Single parents families
  • Time-poor people
  • Mothers who are looking for the healthiest option at low prices for large quantities
  • Those wanting fast service
  • Those with difficulty accessing food services with the option of home delivery services
  • Current customers
  • 18-30 year olds, living on a budget, students, low salary, health conscious, occasional gym users

Personally, I found it hard to relate to the situation, as I do not think I’ve ever eaten a slice of Pizza Hut pizza. I felt that we should target low socioeconomic areas more specifically, or areas with a high density of Pizza Hut outlets, to achieve the best results. Please note, I do not think this is to the benefit of these communities and I would not implement this strategy in real life as I think it’s irresponsible and detrimental to many people’s health. However, for the purpose of the activity, we continued.

The benefits of the new range could be summarised as follows:

  • New flavours/additions to the standard menu
  • Awareness and promotion of less fat content in pizza range
  • Greater variety in the diet
  • Increased use of Pizza Hut home delivery services for those unable to make it in store, while still looking for a healthy option
  • Overall increase in brand image and awareness

We drew up two sets of objectives. The first were applicable to already existing Pizza Hut customers. Our objectives had to be SMART, which is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, resourced, and time-bound. They were:

  • Informational: to inform 90% of already existing Pizza Hut customers of the new Fit ‘n Delicious range by November 2012
  • Attitudinal: to change the perceptions of 80% of regular customers that Pizza Hut is a healthy option November 2012
  • Behavioural: to get 60% of regular customers to purchase a pizza from the Fit ‘n Delicious range by January 2013

Our tutor then asked us to think about another specific public that were not necessarily regular customers at Pizza Hut restaurants. We worked with the idea of mothers, and families with young children. Those objectives were as follows:

  • Informational: to inform 60% of mothers and families of the new Fit ‘n Delicious range by November 2012
  • Attitudinal: to improve 60% of mothers and families perception of Pizza Hut so that they would consider it a healthy option
  • Behavioural: to increase by 50% the amount mothers and families that purchase pizzas from the Fit ‘n Delicious range by January 2013

Moving on to tactics, we considered where these publics would congregate, how they would receive their information and what techniques would be most effective to have the greatest impact and reach, in order to meet our objectives. We were told to steer away from social media (in this case), and that it was to be a national campaign.

We decided to focus on interpersonal tactics and organisational tactics. Interpersonal tactics are what their name suggests: tactics they involve two way conversation, ideally face-to-face, that are controlled and tailor to meet their specific target audience. These publics generally already have an established relationship with the organisation or brand, and such tactics are largely persuasive and highly effective. Organisational tactics are suited to those publics who are open and seeking information, where the organisation can control the timing and distribution of their promotion. They may have a lesser impact than interpersonal tactics but can reach a larger audience through wider distribution.

We based our tactical decisions on stereotypes, for better or for worse. Where do mothers congregate? Where do they source their information? How important to them is it what other mothers think? Would they take advice from a general sales assistant or from a nutritional professional, endorsing the brand?

Locations:

  • Mothers groups,
  • Community events
  • Shopping centres
  • Supermarkets

Strategies:

  • Taste-testing, accompanied by a nutritional expert explaining the health benefits of the product – thought to be particularly persuasive when targeting after school shoppers accompanied by their hungry children who will in turn twist their mother’s arm and get that pizza they want
  • Nutritional information panels and comparison charts with other ‘healthy’ ranges from competing pizza chains
  • Advertisements on pizza boxes and napkins, suited to those already purchasing Pizza Hut meals, creating awareness of alternative options
  • In store signage
  • An introductory promotion on the Pizza Hut website (one of those annoying ones that you have to watch unless you can find the hidden ‘skip intro’ button hidden at the top right hand corner in white, size eight font)
  • T-shirts for team members advertising the new range
  • Street teams that go to community events with coupons, Pizza Hut merchandise
  • A tour around regional areas with Pizza Hut stores accompanied by a nutritionist or health professional, creating free information sessions for locals to come and learn about the new range and get their questions answered by a credited source – third-party endorsement: it does not fail

Anyway, the process we went through was complex and considered, and gave us an insight into the world of public relations strategy, key in mobilising brands through creating awareness, changing attitudes and ultimately, to make people act on the issue or product at hand.

Making up the trio of Ps, I went to the gym tonight and spent time on the treadmill which overlooks the Centre’s pools. I was immediately taken back a few hours as I noticed the dozens of mothers who were conversing, sipping drinks and keeping one eye on their child, taking part in a swimming lesson. So many mothers. So little to do. With physical inactivity such a prevalent issue in Australia, would it not make sense for these latent mothers to get in the pool, too? Or why not make their way up the stairs to the gym and bust a move? As I said, it’s even possible to still watch your child from up there, so I want to know what’s preventing them from releasing some endorphins of their own while in the very environment created for them to do so?

Of course there are issues of membership, organisation, confidence, physical impairment, and many other factors that I’m not meaning to dismiss inconsiderately. But time is not one of them. You are sitting there, watching your child, talking to other mothers, on your phone… but you are there. You have the time to take your child to swimming lessons, so create an opportunity for yourself out of a responsibility you have to your child.

So I guess this again comes down to grasping opportunities as they are presented to you. I have a responsibility to myself and all those on the road to follow the rules set out for young drivers. A public relations professional has responsibilities to their client, and parents have responsibilities to look after their children, giving them the strategies and skills to cope in situations that may arise in the future. But don’t hind behind responsibilities. See them in a different light. And help yourself, while helping others. Take it from a new mother: Move your body.

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1 comment
  1. Bianca Verdi said:

    Perfectly pleased perusing Ps, pods, Prrrrrr…xxxx

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