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Debenhams is one of the largest and longest continuous companies which operate on clothes, and it is a retail chain which has a very strong base in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The official website of the company is: www.debenhams.ie. The main products of Debenhams Company include cloth ware like women’s wear, men’s wear, accessories, children’s wear, lingerie, health products, and beauty products. The range of the products of the company include third party brands, the company’s own brands, and other designers which are responsible for making up the diverse collections which are available for all the consumers of the Debenhams stores. The Debenhams retail chain has about a total of about 150 stores which are found in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Debenhams Company has over 22,000 employees.
Debenhams Company has a successful international network which is steadily growing and is composed of about 48 franchise stores, which are found in more than 17 countries around the world. The online presence of the company has a portal, which is a great advantage for the company, since the company can be able to sell all of its products to all of its potential customers online. Debenhams Company has been able to increase its profit margins and the company’s earnings per share during the 2006 to 2008 period through the steady increase and growth in the company’s annual sales. The global financial crisis which happened in the year 2007 to 2009 had also hit the company’s profits, especially during the 2008th last quarter. The company’s cash flows have been on the rise since 2005 from £84 million net cash flows to £79 million net cash flows, while in 2008, £82.2 net cash flows were realized because of the heavy fixed assets investments.
I am a consultant and I intent to contact a Public Relations Campaign proposal for Debenhams Company. It has been a major concern that there has been the lack of the awareness of online shopping; many people have the doubt that online shopping is convenient enough for all of their shopping needs. Debenhams Company is the best place where people from all over the world can shop from any place that they may be in and also at any time of the day, since all the online stores are usually operating 24 hours every day.
In my research, I have heard rumors that Debenhams is a place for all the people’s needs when it comes to clothes, shoes, and accessories. This is because the Debenhams shops are always open to each person, and they have good competitive prices and huge discounts for the sake of the loyal customers. I believe it is the time for the company to step up on another notch by engaging all its customers throughout the year, and also the recruiting of brand new customers from all over the world through its online stores, which many people can access worldwide.
The company still has some current PR activities which include the use of weekly magazines, newspaper magazines like The Ticket, Life, You, Sunday Times Magazine, and Health and living among many others, the use of Press releases, articles, letters to the editor, radio, television, press interviews, and event sponsorships. These current PR activities have shown a slight improvement in the total market share of the company and it is very essential for the company to carry out a PR campaign so as to be able to give a boost to the market share of the company and also improve the company’s profit margins by trying to reach the people by the use of other methods like blogging and holding press conferences.
One of the problems for Debenhams Company is that the company has not been using online PR activities like the use of the blogging service which is a service which can be accessed over the internet. With the emergence of the availability of the internet, many people are able to access the internet from anywhere, which can either be in their houses, or even in their work places, which shows that many people from all over the world can access any information concerning new products which are available for sale in the market through the internet.
A place is what ensures that a company can be able to sell its products to the consumers, and it is where the consumers expect to buy the products. There are extremely many places as to where a company can decide to sell off its products and services, like the in store, online, the internet, and direct selling. Debenhams Company usually sells most of its products online and also in its many departmental stores, where it is guaranteed that the customers will get the satisfaction they might have, and also if they need any assistance form the staff, they can get it at any time concerning the products that they are buying from the stores or through the internet.
With the online shopping at Debenhams Company, the customers are able to get all their goods being delivered to where they are, like to their homes, or even at their door steps straight from the Debenhams Company. The customers can get all the information concerning the products that they may want to buy from the official website of the Debenhams Company and the stores where they can be able to find out about all the delivery charges and the delivery time, which indicates that the customers have to fill out their addresses correctly. There is also an option for the customers who may not want to pay up the delivery charges, where they can also pick up their goods and take them home for themselves.
Debenhams Company has various experts and keeps the board of advisors in order to be more competitive in the fashion industry. In addition, Debenhams has unique services, such as the delivery of goods at the customers’ door steps and the availability of free customer support all day long, which makes the company stand out among competitors. Another Debenhams’s strength is its online distribution channel, which allows the company to advertise its products online and also sell online. This makes it very convenient for the customers, since they don’t need to visit the stores, which can be time consuming; all they have to do is just to access the internet, as a result of the new emergence in the technology of today. Many people today can access the internet at their homes and even at their work places, which makes it a convenient way for Debenhams in targeting their customers online, because that is where they are.
There is the lack of brand name recognition among many people, because they may consider the company’s logo not to be appealing to them, which may call for a revision of the logo so that it could be able to grab all the customers. A majority of the stakeholders dislike the high prices due to other additional charges, like the delivery charges which can make it very inconvenient to most of the customers, since they have to pay extra just for the delivery besides what they pay for the actual goods. This may cause the customers to go to other companies, which also deal with clothing, accessories, and beauty products, where they are given free delivery services and other services.
The company lacks some latest technology, such as the virtual money transfer services, and also operates as a high-cost structure. Moreover, there might be a disagreement between the marketing boss and sales manager on the pricing tactic to be used for the new products and services. The company might spend more money on advertising and encounter difficulties in selling their products. New technology in a company could help to decrease the operational costs, develop better quality, and lead to innovation. Technological developments would be a great benefit to both the company and its clients.
There is a very high demand in new fashion by people, because as the years go by, there are new trends, and people also adapt to the new trends by each passing day. The Company has its own designers, who are very unique and also talented in meeting the demands of the customers when it comes to new designs in fashion. In this case the company does not need to employ the services of external designers which might be costly to the company.
Debenhams should develop a distribution channel, e.g., a website, where they can advertise their products or study customer lifestyles, which will increase the demand for the company’s products and result in better sales. Technological advancement will be an opportunity for Debenhams Company to invest in new trends. Increased population will lead to new channels of distribution. Low taxation will be an opportunity to maximize investments in new ventures, thus, increasing the sales of the company.
Competition is very high in the fashion industry, which indicates that the Debenhams Company has to work very hard in satisfying all their needs by the provision of very huge discounts for the customers and huge price cuts so that the customers could afford to buy their products. This can help in the increasing of the company’s annual sales, but it has a great effect on the profit margins, because the company may even incur huge losses, which are a great threat to the company, because it can lead to the closure of the company, or the collapsing of the company due to bankruptcy.
Threats to the Debenhams Company could be the technological changes which can render the existing services and products obsolete. Low-cost imports will lower the prices of the company’s products, since people will tend to purchase the imported products. Introduction of substitute products might affect the sales if the customers choose to buy them. Bargaining power of suppliers and customers might lower the prices of the Debenhams products. Tax increases may also lower the profits of the company, or force Debenhams to raise the prices of their products, which, in turn, will reduce the purchasing power of the customers. Changes in customer tastes will also divert customers from purchasing the Debenhams products.
What we intent to accomplish from this public relations proposal is the development of new communication strategies which can be able to sustain the awareness of the Debenhams Company to the public as a distinctive and a competitive brand. In so doing, we will be able to increase the awareness of our products to the public which can help the company in building a positive image for our Company and also our products.
The defining of the objectives in Debenhams Company is very important, because they help in the straight forward direction and focus on the creation of the company’s strategies and tactics. The objectives help our company to determine the general direction that the company wants to head to. The strategies, on the other hand, said the company in being able to achieve all its set objectives and goals. The tactics are all the company’s operational aspects of the strategy. The key message of this PR campaign proposal is “cheap and affordable clothes and accessories for all”
The main objectives of this PR campaign would be to increase the total sales of clothes and accessories. This can be achieved by being able to increase the awareness of the company and its products through the increase in the awareness of the company’s websites and departmental stores through the company’s products which are produced to all of its targeted customers who include the men, women and children. This can be achieved by increasing the views to our official website by over 120, 000 per month for the duration of six months, to increase the total number of visitors to our departmental stores and official website by more than 30, 000 unique members per month for a duration of six months, and also be able to increase the total number of registered members to our website to more than 80,000 within a duration of one year.
A strategy is a directional scope of an organization over its long-term abilities, which are usually aimed at achieving the set goals of a company. There are nine forces which can serve as a basis for a business strategy: the products offered, the market needs, the technology, the production capability, the methods of sales, the methods of distribution, the natural resources, the size and growth, and the returns in the profit levels. The decisions to a proper and successful strategy are determined by the products and services, the customers, the market segments, and the geographic areas.
The strategy in the PR campaign program is the general foundation on which the tactical program is built and it is also the theory that would move the entire company from where it is currently to where it wants to be. The strategy in this case is the overlying mechanism of the PR campaign from where the tactics are to be deployed so as to be able to meet the objectives. The main objective of this PR campaign is to increase the sales of clothes and accessories and the strategy in this case is to increase the popularity of the company.
In order for a business to be able to achieve its set objectives, it must be able to come up with a strategy which is suitable, like, for example, if the strategy’s aim is to increase the company’s total revenue, then the strategy has to be aimed at new investments, or even the launching of new products. A strategy is very difficult to be reversed, since when a company decides to implement a strategy, it is absolutely not possible to be able to switch the resources towards another direction
The success of our company which usually operates mainly for marketing and the acquisition of high profits are dependent on the management and the establishment of all the products and services that are being offered by the company. For our company to be able to compete and survive in the competitive market, it has to be very successful. The success of a company or organization can be defined by the constant innovation and development of the company’s product lines, and the increasing clientele numbers.
Debenhams Company’s Mission Statement has a very clear proclamation which is aimed at driving the company to the future profitability and the future increase and growth in the company’s market share. The company’s logo (Figure 1) is what many customers get to see from the official website of the company, and it appears on all of its products, which shows that it is very difficult for the black market to make imitations of its products so as to confuse the customers to thinking that they were actually consuming our products, the logo is the identification factor of the company, and is what helps in the determination of the success of the company.
The main publics of Debenhams Company include three groups, namely: women, men, and children. The women are of all age groups and sizes, this also applies to the men. The children, on the other hand, include children of 0-16 years of age. The Debenhams Company is able to come up with good strategies, which are aimed at the satisfaction of all the three classes of publics of the company, which explains the success of the company.
The identification of the publics is very crucial so as to be able to ensure that all the key messages are properly communicated and also efficiently communicated as possible. The publics of this company can be categorized into three groups where we have the latent publics, aware publics, and the active publics. The Latent publics are the groups of the people face the existence of the Company but they don’t even recognize if it really exists and they include pupils, children, and infants. The aware publics are the groups of people that are able to recognize the existence of the Debenhams Company and the importance that the company has in the society and they include employees, teachers, the media, parents, and adult men and women. The active publics are the groups that are helping out in the assisting of the company to be able to be beneficial to the society like the government and other fashion organizations.
The stakeholders of the company are also very important just like the publics of the company and they also need to be identified. The analysis of the stakeholders is generally the identification of all the people that are involved in the whole PR campaign as it is opposed to all those who are supposed to be communicated to during the campaign. The stakeholders of the Debenhams Company are the groups of individuals who are most likely to be affected by the PR campaign proposed action. The stake holders of the company include the government, employees, customers, suppliers, creditors, the trade unions, the business owner, and the community.
The public image of any company is very important, since it determines how the public views the company, which shows that maintaining a very good name is very beneficial to a company, because it will make people be able to choose to purchase the company’s products. If the company has a bad name, then it would show that all of its customers are going to turn their backs on the company and its products, so no one will purchase the products no matter how good they may be.
There are brand new markets which are rapidly emerging in the market and our company has co come up with good ideas on the medial selection which we can be able to reach as many people as possible. The factors that we should consider when choosing these media selection are things like the literacy of our audience, the accessibility, and the complexity of the economy. This is because if we decide to use the internet alone, it may not have a very big impact because there are some illiterate people who don’t know how to use the internet and the latest technology, or there are some families out there who are not able to afford to have an access to the internet. The use of the radio is a very good medium but the main problem is usually the language to use since not all people are able to speak the national language since there are those who are still glued to their native languages.
The technique that we will use for our PR campaign will be the use of the internet. Very many people surf the Internet on a daily basis, and most of them prefer getting information online about the products they need, which makes the Internet very useful as a marketing tool for the Debenhams products. The decision of the consumer to purchase the product is influenced by all the information that the consumer can get from an online source, and by how well the information is presented. It can involve activities like comparing and contrasting several brands from several companies, and also be based on the special needs of the consumer.
The social media has been used by the Debenhams Company as a branding building tool in order to increase its brand popularity among its loyal customers. Brands are attempting to utilize social media to reach existing customers, gain new ones, and build or maintain credibility and reputation. Debenhams Company is able to reach customers online and interact with them. When it comes to embracing the changing digital world, many brands have jumped on the social media bandwagon to create a quick and necessary presence for them. Unfortunately, very few brand managers have been successful in utilizing the social media to create sustainable or quantifiable business returns from this media.
This can be owed to the fact of being a new and fast developing platform, the brand managers has not yet grasped the full usage of this media platform. Thus, for most brands, the only focus with regards to the social media is to have a presence on it. The company has used the social media to build its brand so effectively that today its brand is synonymous with the term “social media.” But such examples are rare and most big names are unable to cash-in on this huge opportunity. The social media in particular, and internet in general have brought about a paradigm shift in the marketing, thinking so much so that the traditional saying ‘customer is the king’ is now replaced by ‘content is the king’ for online marketing.
The reasons for using the social media in branding is that the social media is a relatively low investment high return medium of interactive communication. But the main reason of using this platform is because this is where the customers are! As more and more people start joining, interacting and participating in the ‘social media wave,’ the companies will have to do so as well. There are many benefits a firm can seek as a consequence of using the social media platform.
a) Brand Awareness: the social media websites from Facebook, YouTube, and Flicker to twitter provide a wide variety of platforms; that is, some are visual while others are messaging websites to make customers aware of the brand, its latest offerings, its promotions etcetera.
b) Targeted and Niche marketing: the use of the social media to track and target customers and form niche segments is possible. The brand marketers in the Debenhams Company can ‘listen’ to what their customers are saying and understand the needs of the consumers and group customers with similar requirements together to target them through the social media websites.
c) Monitor customer feedback: the social media is a great new avenue for getting customer feedback for a brand. The positive feedback from the customers enhances the brand image, and the negative feedback can be responded to immediately giving the brand a ‘responsible’ and ‘communicable’ image.
The tools and tactics that we are going to use in meeting the company’s main objective is the use of blogger relations and the press conferences with the media relations which are aimed at achieving all the campaign objectives. In the blogging, we are to create new blogs where these weblogs are mainly intended for the public viewing and they should be very appealing to the public and they contain web links and should have a very strong theme. Through the use of the blogs, the individuals who visit the sites and links are able to record their own personal opinions and other information about the company and its products which can be on a regular basis. This is because very many people can be able to access the internet so targeting people through this blogging services can enable that the company can be able to build a good brand name and popularity among very many people across the globe.
Very many people surf social sites like the Facebook, tweeter, linked in etc. and there is the importance of creating accounts on these social sites where the people can also get to view all about our company and its products which can increase the number of people visiting our websites since once they click on the links, they are directed to our official websites where they can be able to view and get more information about our products. Holding press conferences can also be very good in helping increasing the total number of sales in the company.
In the results assessment, the PR campaign’s work is not usually ended when the technicians who are handling the whole project complete all of their set tasks; it is, therefore, a must to conduct the pre and post program assessments so as to be able to determine if the whole PR campaign is a success, and if it has caused any change in the company. This can be done through the observation, the feedback from the customers of Debenhams, and also some research.
The assessment through observation can be used in the determination of the pre-set objectives, where one can be able to determine if the complaints from the customers have decreased, or if the share price of the company has improved. In the observation, we also consider external factors like season ability, the competitors, economic and political factors.
The assessment through the feedback of the customers of the Debenhams Company puts forward that we should consider all the customers complaints and see what can actually be done. All the suggestions which are given in by the customers, monitored broadcasts, press cuttings are the appraisal of the Debenhams Company’s reputation and the reputation of all its products by the media, reports and recommendations, and also independent research surveys.The assessment by research entails conducting a research so as to be able to determine the base percentage and the post campaign assess to change, where qualitative research can be conducted and analyzed for all the longitude charts which are long term.
We should be able to evaluate the outcomes of the campaign proposal because there is the need to encourage future work, to document all aspects of success, to justify all our expenses, to improve all other future campaigns, to be able to build credibility, and to promote PR value in the company. There are a number of things that we should consider when evaluating the campaign which include if the stated goals were understood, the adequacy of the budget, the planning of the campaign, if there is the need for improvements to be done, and if the recipients were able to understand the key message. We can be able to know if the campaign was a success if there is a defined increase in the annual sales of clothes, there is an increase in the public awareness of the company and the products, and the increase in the customer’s inquiries on the company’s products.
We can use the measurement of audience awareness, audience attitudes, and audience action. The measurement of audience awareness method can help us to be able to know how many people were able to get to know about our campaign. This can be done by the conducting of online surveys so as to be able to determine the audience awareness of the campaign. Audience attitudes are the general feelings of the audience towards the company and its products. This audience attitude can be measured using the benchmark studies which test all the attitudes of the audience before and after they are exposed to the message. Audience action is what the audience undertakes as a result of being exposed to the message of the campaign which can be measures as to whether they purchased the product, whether they requested for more information concerning the products of the company, or if they are very pleased talking about the company and its products.
We can also use the Media Content Analysis in evaluating the success or failure of the campaign where the Macro model (Appendix D) of Evaluation shows clearly that it is a very good tool for evaluating the success of a PR campaign because most of the PR activities are mostly focused on publicity and the media relations. Appendix E shows a media content analysis chart sample. The macro model can help very much in the identification of problems very quickly and sooner.
A good budget in any good and successful organization like Debenhams Company is very essential, because it is very easy for costs to spiral out of control, and they are mostly based on the structure of the whole program and the person-hour cost of the planning process. The budget in the Debenhams can help in the planning of the tasks, because the budgets are not based on any hard numbers.
The main Public Relations costs include the time which is the Person-Hours, the materials to be used, and the total expenses. The PR budget includes the consultancy budget, which is the time that has to be fully paid for, and also includes the meetings, the press reception budget, and the department budget, which are the overheads that have been identified instead of the normal hourly charge.