How Industry Uses Public Relations

Effective Public Relations has made it possible for McDonalds to emerge as one of the largest fast food service restaurants and one of the most profitable in the world. Public Relations is meant to make a company's products or services sell more. McDonalds uses a two way asymmetric model because it wants to create a good reputation with its customers. This is done through a number of ways. For instance, the company learns of how customers feel about their services and products through some satisfactions cards that are presented to the customers at the restaurants. As Aidoo (2005) puts it, they are supposed to fill-in the card with their honest truth about what they feel is good and what needs some correction.

The company also has a website where it displays all its products and services. The customers are also allowed to send e-mails to the company via this website talking about issues of concern that they feel need to be addressed. From such emails, the company is able to put the customers' views into consideration as a way of improving its services. Similarly customers are able to find out any new products or news about the company by simply logging on to the website. It also receives letters from its customers quite often which makes it possible to understand how the customers feel. Aidoo (2005) adds that McDonalds also does some research on the lifestyle and demographic characteristics of its customers so that it can come up with better ways of serving them. For instance, the research indicates that the company's main customers are children of between 5 to 12 years. Moreover, these children also persuade their parents to take them to the restaurant. It is because of this that the company has a specific section for the kids on its website. However sometimes customers are so demanding which makes it difficult if not impossible to fulfill all their demands. Sometimes the messages are also so many but the company tries as much as it can to reply to most of them.

McDonald's public involves all segments of demography: family, race, generation, income, gender, and age. For instance, apart from the kids and their parents, teenagers are also very useful public to the company. College and high school students normally flock the company stores to have a taste the hamburgers and chips which are some of their favorite food staffs. It is because of this that the company has invested in young workforce so that they could be able to relate well with the young generation. The company also has outlets in various countries like France, US, Sidney and so on. This ensures that it is able to reach it customers in all parts of the world regardless of their race or nationality. The prices of products also vary from relatively cheap to expensive which means that a customer is able to purchase that which eh can afford (Aidoo, 2005).

The success of McDonald could also be attributed to the kinds of advertisement campaign it makes. It does it in such a way that the ads are appealing to both the youth and the older generation. Generally, the campaign is done in two ways. There is a section for the children and adults. According to Smith (2004) the main reason why kids love McDonalds is because a trip to the stores is usually an adventure by itself. The company has a play ground, fun center, foods and toys. This is the environment that most kids would love to find themselves in. You find that children will quickly eat their happy meal so that they could go play with the cheap toys, sometimes even forgetting about the food that comes with entertainment. While a hamburger could easily be made at home, the toys can't. It is therefore the experience that kids get at the company's outlets that sells to the children. This is even enhanced by some cartoon characters and features. Whenever children see pictures of Ronald on the TV sets, signs, billboards, coloring books and so on, they relate to this character as a real persona. He is admired by children outside the restaurant and this has made him a reminder of McDonald for most people.

When dealing with grown up and older public, the company relies on the quick and cheap nature of food. The company has even introduced some foods like the McGrill which gives an impression of healthy living. As mentioned before the grown up public is also able to send emails, make calls, or fill the satisfaction cards which keeps them in communication with the company (Smith, 2004).

Some of the key messages used by McDonalds include "I'm lovin' it." This is like the company's motto in Sydney. It gives an impression that customers are satisfied with the foods and services provided by the company. This message has been efficient because it has seen so many customers flock the restaurants for many years. There is also the 'Come as you are' message that has been used in a series of campaigns in France. According to Hall (2010), this message has been very effective in various parts of the world. This campaign is about a gay student sitting in one of the company's outlets chatting with his sweetheart while looking at their school photo. The father then arrives carrying a tray of burgers and tells his son that it was too bad that his class is only full made of boys because he could have find all the girls. One fact he didn't know is that his son is gay. This message has been very effective especially for those in support of the gay rights. There is also the Go Active happy meal that targets the adults. This meal comprises of salad, a book with instructions on how to exercise, a bottle of water and an adult toy known as the stepometer which assists adults to measure the few steps he took from the counter to the car. This has seen most over weight customers keep coming to the restaurants with their children.

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McDonald uses various PR tools depending on the public it wants to communicate with. For instance, it has a website which has been very efficient. It is easy to use and also has a section for the kids. Customers can view all they want to know about the company such as products on offer or new releases in the market. They can also post their views about the company. In line with this is the blog spot initiated by the company where employees, managers and customers can chat and share out on different views about the company. Smith (2004) states that this helps build a good relationship with the customers.

Audio and visual is another important PR tool that the company employs. For instance there have been a number of clips aired on television stations especially during prime hours. A good example is the "come as you are" advert on television stations in France (Hall, 2010). The national advertisements captured McDonald's image and this has made the simple M glued to everyone's memory. There are also audio only tools like telephones which the company uses to communicate with customers.

Special events are employed by the company. For instance there have been a number of family-out events hosted by the company. This is where children from various families come with their parents to have fun. As Smith (2004) puts it, they eat and compete in games, such as bouncing castles and merry-go-rounds. Such events have been very useful to McDonalds because it has attracted so many children who are in fact the greatest consumer market for the company.

Another very important tool of PR employed by the company has to be customer care. McDonald restaurant is so much concerned with customer satisfaction. This is the reason for all the communication tools mentioned above: satisfaction cards, emails, and letters. The waiters at the restaurant are also taught on the importance of etiquette and good mannerism. This is why they look very presentable in their uniforms and talk nicely to the customers. There are suggestion boxes where complaints could be dropped.

McDonald's spokesman is Bill Whiteman. This is a very outspoken man who tells it as it is. For instance, when people were against the idea of gay marriages, he stood by his word and told opponents of gay marriage that hatred had absolutely no place in the society. The opponents needed that the company be neutral in the whole issue and even went ahead to organize a boycott of the company and its products. In the long the company was able to come up with "Come as you are" campaign which in fact had a lot of positive influence on both sides of the Atlantic (Hall, 2010).

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Just like any other company, there have been times when McDonald has found itself in crisis but its professional management has always finds a better way through the problem. Whether you love or hate the company, the fact still remains that it has improved in image over the years. For instance, there was a time when its foods were blamed for causing obesity in children. However, it was able to change its menu and now offers some of the most healthy options of food like salad and fruits. According to Aidoo (2005), it also introduced the McCafe coffee brand. There were also claims that the Shrek-themed drinking glasses that were introduced by the restaurant had high levels of cadmium which can cause kidney failure. These allegations had the potential of causing severe damage to the company. However, it quickly issued a swift recall of the glasses.

The company came clean very quickly and even did more than what the customers expected. For each customer who brought back one of the Shrek-glasses, it offered a refund of $3 on each item worth $2.49 and $1.99 purchase of food. The generosity of the company allowed it to make $1.09 billion during the first quarter of 2010. This is a very huge return from an issue that could have turned out to be a severe crisis. Regardless of the financial hit that the company felt after wards, it was worth the positive vibe created from the potential crisis (Aidoo, 2005). Those parents who did not want to take their kids to McDonald for the fear of growing obese are now big funs of the restaurant. The new menu has attracted even those that used to be against its burgers and chips.

As a company employee, the best way I would comply to the company's objectives is working to the best of my ability to satisfy customers. Regardless of the position I might hold, it is important that I produce best results because this will contribute to the overall success of the company. Similarly I can spread a good image about my company in all meetings or friends I meet. This first begins by conducting myself in a responsible way because I consider myself to be part of the company.

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