Public relations refer to all the activities that are geared towards maintaining relationships with people or organizations. It is an indirect selling communication whose importance cannot be overlooked. Effective public relations has the ability of influencing various groups of people by encouraging them to buy a good or service. According to Kotler (2000, pp.128-129), activities involved in public relations can be defined through a set of tools with the acronym PENCILS. P stands for publications. Apparently, organizations can enhance their competitiveness through company annual reports. E stands for events such as lectures, expos/exhibitions and fairs that people or organizations can sponsor in their strategy to portray their product or service as worth buying. N stands for news about a company, its employees and the products that it offers. C stands for community activities that an organization takes part in. Such activities are supposed to satisfy the needs of the local communities (Kotler 2000, p.128). I stands for identity media such as business cards, notepapers and dress code that an organization identifies with. L stands for lobbying activity; for instance, seeking to influence legislative or regulatory measures of the government to support the activities of the organization. Finally, S stands for social responsibility. An organization has to strive to build goodwill through social responsibility activities. Promotion entails the use of various communication channels to make known or give the advantages of a product or service over its competitors (Aldebert, Dang & Longhi, 2011, p. 1208).
Objectives of the Plan
- To promote Brighton as the best travel and tourist seaside destination in the United Kingdom.
- To create public awareness (local and international) on Brighton’s travel industry and tourist destination sites using appropriate media channels.
- To highlight the role and importance of public relations as a promotional tool in promoting Brighton as a seaside city.
- To enhance the relationship between the public relations department and various stakeholders in the travel and tourism sectors.
The 4cs’ of marketing will be used in the plan. Firstly, the consumer is considered as a very critical component of the plan. Without the consumer, the plan will not succeed. The consumers in this plan will be sport tourists, both young and old, males and females. Nearly all kinds of sports are found in Brighton; thus, each sport will be promoted based on its ability to draw tourists. Likewise, the plan will target organizations that intend to conduct conferences and exhibitions in the United Kingdom because of the world-class exhibition and accommodation facilities that are found in Brighton. Similarly, the plan will target newly wed couples and holiday makers who would be willing to enjoy their holidays in UK beaches as well as those who will be willing to experience new cultures abroad.
The second component of the plan will be cost. Brighton will be promoted as an affordable travel and tourist destination. In cases where consumers will have to pay more, the standard of services and products to be provided will have to commensurate with money costs. For instance, costs for conference facilities, accommodation services, meals, accessing beaches, sports facilities and means of transport for both local and international tourists will be reflected in the eventual services offered.
The third component of this plan will be communication. This tool will be used to create meaningful relationships with focus on what the stakeholders need. It will also be used to know their lifestyles to enable the provision of better services. Communication will be through online and offline channels. The channels will include television, radio stations, telephone, advertising in stadium billboards, video conferencing, and social media such as twitter, facebook, and company websites.
The final component of the marketing strategy will be to ensure convenience. For instance, tourists will have the opportunity to pay for the various services using credit cards, make enquiries through phone calls, log onto the websites of the organizations that they want to visit to get information, and travel conveniently to Brighton through using reliable transport systems.
Task 1 for LO 1 and LO2 and P 4.1:
A. Evaluation of the role and importance of public relations as a promotional tool to apply to the Brighton Seaside destination
Public relations as a promotional tool will help to show the reputation of Brighton seaside as a place that can attract and retain customers/tourists. Public relations will be used to show the quality of products and services, involvement of the local communities, business integrity, fairness, honesty and integrity of travel companies and tourism activities in the area. Public relations as a promotions tool will be used to create community affinity. Through public relations, it is believed that relationships will be built with various communities through sampling, events, and sponsorships in the process of promoting tourism. The communities in this case will be demographic, geographic, political, social or special interest groups. Public relations will help to deliver messages that are not addressed in usual advertising. The messages could help to portray Brighton positively. Moreover, public relations will be used to segment audiences considering lifestyles, psychographic, and demographics. Finally, public relations as a promotional tool will be used to create momentum in marketing Brighton as a tourist destination. The diversity of publics or audiences in this public relations and promotions plan include the City Council of Brighton, public and private transport providers and travel agencies. The plan also includes international and local airports/airlines, the media, hotel and accommodation providers, and sporting events planners and organizers (Camisón & Monfort-Mir, 2012, p. 779; Fyall & Brian, 2005, p. 37). The key media that would be used in this plan include online and offline media such as televisions, websites, billboards in stadiums, mails, facebook, twitter and pinterest. The department boasts of a longstanding relationship with the media. This is because of the acknowledgment that the media plays an important role in disseminating information.
B. An audit of the chosen destination environment within the context of setting relevant goals and objectives for the campaign
In this public relations and promotional plan, Brighton seaside resort which is part of the City of Brighton and Hove found in East Sussex, England has been chosen. The seaside resort has been chosen because of its unmatched advantages in Europe. The advantages include; its location at the heart of Greater Brighton City region, its partnership with the local authorities as well as other organizations (Strobl & Peters, 2013, p. 73). Likewise, the seaside research has been chosen in this plan because of its history, geographical location, climate, governance and politics, economy, commerce, landmarks, beaches, and museums. There are also cultures, festival and rallies, sports, and transport systems that may attract tourist to the seaside resort (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). The following are the tourist attraction travel opportunities and the groups of tourists that this plan intends to highlight and attract during its implementation.
Brighton boast as a city that offers numerous sporting events that tourist should consider attending or taking part in. Firstly, it is known that Brighton city is the home of a professional football team known as Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club (Brighton & Hove Albion, n.d). This is one of the oldest clubs in the United Kingdom having been in existence for nearly 100 years. In fact, the club was first promoted to the Football League First Division in 1979 where it stayed for four seasons. During its last season in the league, the club managed to reach the FA final where it played against Manchester United (Brighton & Hove Albion, n.d). Some of the notable former players of the club include Gareth Barry and Bobby Zamora, who went ahead to play and gain fame in the English Premier League (Brighton & Hove Albion, n.d). Secondly, there is the Whitehawk Football Club which is a semi-professional football team.
ii.Holiday and Beach Lovers
Brighton prides itself as having an expanse shingle beach covering 8.7 kilometers. The seafront has night clubs, restaurants, bars, sports facilities as well as amusement arcades, particularly between West and Palace Piers (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). Tourists have been frequenting the section because of its beautifully painted timber beach huts, brick-walled chalets and sandy foreshore that becomes exposed during low tide. Likewise, the beach has a section adjoining Madeira Drive to the west of Brighton City (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). The section has been redeveloped into a sports complex. Moreover, the city council of Brighton owns all the beaches in the area.
The unique culture of people in Brighton can also be used to promote the city as a tourist destination. Brighton features cinema, festival, rallies, museums, night life and popular music. Brighton has also featured popular movies such as Mirror Mask, Brighton Rock, Angus, Wimbledon among other movies. Every year, the city hosts the Brighton Festival that is considered one of the largest arts festivals in the United Kingdom. Other festivals include the Great Escape that features nights of live music, Brighton live where local bands perform, and Burning the Clocks a solstice celebration that occurs in September of every year (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). There are also food and drink festivals. A good example is the Blessing of the Fisheries that provides tourists to eat barbecued mackerel on the city’s beaches. The special festivals set Brighton city apart from the other seaside destinations in the United Kingdom and around Europe as a place with rich culture that any enthusiastic tourist should consider sampling (Howells, 2005, p. 1227). Museums such as Preston Manor, Natural History, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, and Brighton Fishing Museum are found in Brighton City. These museums have artifacts and are open to the public. The City Council of Brighton needs to publicize the museums onto its websites. Its officials should do the same to the names of other landmarks in Brighton such as the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Center, Brighton Town Hall and American Express (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d).
Brighton also boasts of churches as well as different places of worship. Some of the churches include St. Nicholas Church, St. Bartholomew’s, St. Peter’s and St. Martin’s. It also has synagogues. It is, however, important to note that the city is considered one of least religious places in the United Kingdom. Consequently, tourists would be told that the city does not discriminate anyone based on his or her religious beliefs. Being one of the least religious places in the United Kingdom, Brighton would be promoted as a place where tourists are least likely to be discriminated against due their religious affiliations (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d).
iv.Conference and Exhibition Holders
Brighton has more hotels and accommodation facilities per head than any other place in the United Kingdom (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). The hotels belong to various categories ranging from the simple ones to five star hotels; thus, can suit the needs of different classes of tourists (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). For these facilities to remain competitive, the various managements will have to consider venturing more into meeting, incentives, conference and exhibition (MICE) businesses (Ali-Knight, 2010, p. 32, Garay L & Cànoves, 2011, p. 664).
Sales promotions would be achieved if there were discounts as well as other special services for various classes of tourists. For example, tourists could be given discounts in the future. In addition, first time tourists could be allowed a given percentage; for instance, 15 % if they book early. Likewise, tourists who stay longer in the facilities could also be allowed a given percentage at the discretion of the management (Pantzar & Shove, 2010, p. 457). The other group of tourists who could be given discounts is the loyal customers. Such customers should be given preferential treatment because they can be relied upon (Agarwal, 2002, p. 27).
Task 2 for LO3
A.Identification and analysis of the key media that can be used in the campaign and the public relations department’s relationship with the media
Online and offline media will be used to achieve the objectives of this plan. To begin, the public relations department will use catalogues. In tourism, the department recognizes that catalogues are often intended for end customers. Bus companies will be urged to publish catalogues in printed and electronic formats. They will have the opportunity to publish the catalogues twice a year when winter begins and also during summer. The catalogues will be found at the branches as with commission agents where potential customers will be able to browse and take them home. The travel agencies will also be reminded to the put catalogues on their websites for the potential customers to download. Some of the catalogues will be mailed to regular customers directly (Paget, Dimanche & Mounet, 2010, p.831). On the websites, the catalogues will be arranged well with photos describing Brighton City, natural attraction sites, accommodation, catering and beaches. Through this approach, clients will be able to find good descriptions of Brighton, including prices to be arranged according to the month that a tourist would like to visit the seaside town. Catalogues are appropriate because they provide more details and can have nice photos to affirm the message being communicated.
The various sporting clubs in the city will be reminded to make their websites more interactive. In that way, foreign and local tourists who are interested in the various activities of the clubs will be able to get information regarding the history of the clubs, matches to be played, online ticketing, and how to purchase club jerseys. Equally important are the social media sites such as facebook fan pages, twitter, whatsapp and pinterest where messages can be posted and immediate feedback received (Jóhannesson, 2012, p. 187; Weiss & Domingo, 2010, p. 1164). Social media sites are very appropriate because customers will have the opportunity to access them from any part of the world.
Besides, these sporting clubs will have to provide local and international lines that can be called when there is need for more clarifications. The various sporting activities in the seaside city can be aired through international media such as the British Broadcasting Corporation and Sky Sport television networks. Such media channels are important because apart from broadcasting live events, they can also be watched beyond the boundaries of the United Kingdom. In this way, Brighton will be able to attract sport-tourists from all-over the world (Kozak & Martin, 2012, p. 191). In-between the live broadcast of the various sporting events, travel agencies, hotel owners, festival organizers and the various airlines operating in Brighton may advertise the products and services (Saraniemi & Kylänen, 2011, p. 137). International broadcasts such as the BBC is worldwide, thus it covers a large population of potential tourists.
Finally, the hotel owners will be reminded to consider sending mails to trusted or loyal customers whenever new products or services are being launched (Ali-Knight, 2010, p. 73). Such customers can be requested to give sincere inputs about the launched products and services. Through preferential treatments, the loyal customers are likely to remain loyal and steadfast to the city as the best tourist destination. Likewise, hotel owners may conduct personal selling where representatives will communicate directly with customers through video conferencing or skype (Agarwal, 2005, p. 357). This type of promotion would be important because potential customers can have the opportunity to answer pertinent questions and receive conclusive replies (Ma & Hassink, 2013, p. 14). It brings one-on-one interaction, which can help potential customers to gauge the sincerity and seriousness of the products and services on offer.
Task 3 LO 4: Recommendations
- Seaside resorts in West and North parts of Europe have been facing the challenge of stagnating or declining number of visitors because of stiff competition from sunnier destinations overseas. The United Kingdom is one such places where there has been drop in numbers of international arrivals (Office for national Statistics, 2010, p. 30). The decline is also attributed to insufficient marketing (Baidal, Sánchez & Rebollo, 2013, p. 187). Therefore, it is recommended in this plan that the City Council of Brighton should consider Seaside destination renaissance through necessary approaches such as regeneration, revitalization, as well as reinvention using appropriate public relations and promotion.
- Considering that different sporting activities are held in the seaside city every year, the government needs to ensure sustainability. Beach soccer competitions take place from time to time on an imported sand beach. The inaugural tournament took place in 2002 and featured football stars such as Eric Cantona and Matt Le Tissier (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). Apart from football clubs, there are other important sport clubs such as Sussex County Cricket Club, Brighton Football Club that is one of the Oldest Rugby Clubs in England and Brighton and Hove Hockey Club that currently plays in England Hockey League. The government needs to continue inviting important sports personalities as a promotional strategy (Gale 2007, p.27).
- Madeira Drive that is found on the seafront of Brighton is also known to hosts the world’s oldest motor race known as the Brighton Speed Trials. This event has been held since 1905 and takes place in September of each year (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). Horse racing and motorcycle speedway racing are the other sporting events that take place in Brighton. Furthermore, Brighton Bears basketball team that has participated in the British Basketball League (Sina Corporation, 2010) and the various swimming clubs that have been very active since the 1980s should be some of the other unique points that could be used to distinguish Brighton from other UK tourist destinations. Based on these sporting events, it can be argued that Brighton seaside city offers most of the sporting activities that any tourist would want to enjoy. This makes Brighton one of the best places to visit not only in the United Kingdom, but also in the whole world.
- Public relations can be promoted through public relations articles, press releases and television reports. The City Council of Brighton needs to have written articles that highlight the various tourist attraction activities and sites that are available in the area. In the articles, the government can talk about the beaches, sporting activities and other landmarks. Besides, the government can use sports and cultural events to education the local people on the importance of preserving the city’s treasures such as unique cultures and physical activities (Hjalager, 2010, p. 9).
- Brighton has a railway line that links it with other major cities such as London as well as other parts of United Kingdom. Most of Brighton residents work in London and commute daily using the trains that operate in that route. Long distance ferry services are also offered twice every day to cities such as Great Malvern and Bristol by the West Coastway Line that is operated by the Fist Great Western Company (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). In addition, there are bus routes, ferry, coach and taxi services (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). In addition, there are also other bus companies such as the Sussex Bus, Metrobus, Compass Travel, Stagecoach South, and The Big Lemon. Increasing the frequency of travel to the other cities from two time a week to four-times and then making the changes known through the media such as newspapers, radio and television would portray Brighton as a city that is ready to take off and offer the best services that customers aspire.
- The national road network connects Brighton northwards, eastern and western to routes along the coast as well as trunk route inland (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). Therefore, it is true to say that this seaside city has a reliable transport system that would enable tourists to visit the various destinations cheaply and efficiently. Furthermore, Brighton city has bus stops where tourists can find real-time travel information (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). This would enable tourists to travel easily and conveniently. Given that buses in Brighton city operate under companies, tourists can log into the websites of such companies and retrieve vital information before travelling to the seaside city. Tourists can also make prior bookings (Aldebert, Dang & Longhi, 2011, p. 1209).
- Shoreham Airport that is run by the Brighton City Airways also offers both chartered and scheduled flights within the United Kingdom as well as to other countries such as France. Besides, Gatwick Airport that is considered one of the main international airports in the United Kingdom is only 35 kilometers away (Brighton & Hove City Council, n.d). In fact, there are regular railway and coach services that are operated to this airport. The two airports connect Brighton to the outside world with ease. Therefore, any tourist, no matter where he or she comes from, will never be worried on how to get to the city. Airplanes and aircrafts should have posters of Brighton and its destination sites printed in the tickets to create more awareness.
- The transport providers in Brighton City should consider partner with reliable agents abroad to sell their products and services. This has the potential of relieving potential tourist of the challenges that awaits them when they get to Brighton. Apparently, the agents can organize for taxis to pick tourists from the airport to the hotels. Moreover, the agents can make bookings on behalf of the tourists with children. Bookings can be made online as well as offline.
- The government should consider buying the campsites that are found on the low end of the market and then refurbish them. The public sector has to take a leading role in zoning and land use plans (Nicolini, 2009, p. 1416). Besides, the government should come up with policies that allow hotel chains to buy the campsites and build their own premises. Undoubtedly, the private sector has to invest money into new ideas, ranging from improving the campsites to building new hotels (Mei, Arcodia & Ruhanen, 2012, P. 78).
Next Course of Action
The implementation of the plan will require the public relations department to continue working closely with the various stakeholders. Even though the department has had a cozy relationship with the stakeholders, this phase will require more effort to draw the stakeholders even closer. The plan is expected to be implemented within one year; afterwards, an audit will be conducted to determine if the objectives of the plan were achieved. The audit will be conducted by both internal and external professionals who will be asked to make further recommendations, particularly on areas of weaknesses.
This plan has identified the stakeholders, public relations and promotion tools that can be utilized well to make Brighton City the number one seaside tourist destination in the United Kingdom. Public relation in this case will require a good understanding between the stakeholders and the potential tourists. The stakeholders have to recognize the changes that have taken place in the tourism industry and strive to adhere to them. Undoubtedly, Brighton has unique climate, culture, beaches and other natural phenomena that distinguish it from the rest of the seaside cities. However, vigorous product and service promotions campaigns are necessary to fight off strong competition. Some of the promotion strategies that could be used include advertising through online and offline media like websites, mailing products and services to customers. The city can also consider providing articles that highlight the unique features of the seaside city. Apart from advertisement, the stakeholders need to consider giving discounts to customers; however, such discounts have to be tailored to meet different objectives.