Friday, October 21, 2016

Harley Davidson 2011 Public Relations Plan

I received this "Public Relations Plan" the other day and thought it would provide some entertaining if not insightful reading to those of you who may find the topic interesting. I mean come on, "the motor company is a master of playing to peoples emotions, struggles and secret desires..." Wow. How adopted it actually was, if at all authentic, I have no way of knowing. Some of the Strategies and Tactics lists are humorous if nothing else. I think we all know, if we've been paying attention how "adding new tactics and altering previous tactics" has turned out over the last 5 years (since this plan allegedly took effect). Just look at the corporate footprint at the larger "chopular" events you've attended. It would be really really interesting to see a current 2015, 2016, or 2017 PR Plan... I can only imagine the exploitable (excuse me "vast potential") customer base(s) and events listed today!
Harley-Davidson Motor Company
  2011 Public Relations Plan
The Current Situation:
In recent times, the lifestyle brand has run up against some challenging forces.  Perhaps the most trying of these is an aging demographic.  There will come a day when the typical HOG lover won’t be able to swing a leg over the bike.  Here in lies the problem, no new customers…no new sales.  Unfolding before our eyes is the necessity to go after a younger target audience—specifically young adults.  We’ve got to get our hands on those transitioning from college keg parties to 2.2 children and a mortgage payment.  We must create the same cult following and personal relationship with young adults as we have for so many years.  But how?  This plan establishes ways in which we may reach this demographic, increasing our brand relevance among young adults.

Situation Analysis and Knowledge Inventory:
Harley-Davidson Strengths:
Our typical target audience has always been well defined, segmented and unique, allowing for more direct and consistent communication.  The Harley-Davidson brand has persisted fiercely for over 100 years, positioning itself as the “lifestyle brand.”  Moreover, we have developed a cult following and the makings of an intensely loyal family.  The Motor Company is a master of playing to people’s emotions, struggles and secret desires.

Our most prominent weakness is this aging consumer that will, soon, no longer be in the market for a motorcycle.  Among this new demographic of young adults, we also face challenges.  Due to the media’s portrayal of Harley enthusiasts, a stereotype of fringe, flames and old geezers in leather has emerged.  Because of this, many young adults have been turned off by the brand and feel no connection to its core values.  At the same time, we must not lose touch with our traditional audience; we face the challenge of attempting to straddle the old and the new.

In our weaknesses, lie our opportunities.  The young adult market boasts vast potential for the Motor Company.  Our opportunity is to foster an intense, long-term relationship with this demographic.  Each generation, faces different desires, needs and struggles—but they all face them.  We must understand what our brand values—freedom and rebellion—mean to the new generation and communicate with them accordingly.

Our most tangible threat is our (cheaper) foreign competition—Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda.  But, there is and even greater threat emerging over the past few years…the recession.  People do not have the same disposable income they once did.  A Harley-Davidson motorcycle is considered a luxury item, not a necessity.  This lack of disposable income threatens our brand.

Program Goal:
The main goal of this plan is increased awareness and relevance of the Harley-Davidson brand experience among young adults.  The desired end-situation is to establish a connection with this younger demographic and, in turn, increase sales.  We want to forge an intense, long-term relationship with the young adults of today, just as we have done in the past, creating a new generation of Harley enthusiasts.

Target Publics:
The most basic way to define our target public is young men and women between the ages of 25 and 34.  But, that would be insufficient.  The people we want to target are much more complex, much more real.  Let’s take a look beyond the demographics, into the lives of these young men and women…

This target is living in a critical point in their lives; they truly defining who they are.  They are transitioning into the “real world” and being asked “Who are you?,” “What do you want to do for a living?,” What do you stand for?”.  They are coming into a life of responsibilities and worries.  Adventure is replaced with a full-time career, a family and bills.  In their minds, they are screaming, “What happened?!?” because they still feel young—but reality has begun to strangle the rebellion out of them.  This being said, they realize responsibility is necessary and they work hard everyday for what they reap…but they are also looking for something more.  They are in hot pursuit of an outlet, something to cling to, allowing them to return to that unbridled freedom experienced in youth.

This is not everyone.  We won’t waste our time on those already sucked into the black hole of unconscious ignorance and grids of lonely cubicles.  There’s no turning back for them.  We want to target those with the fire of rebellion inside, aching to break from the daily monotony.  These young people have a fresh, entrepreneurial spirit, who break from the ordinary life path and forge their own way.  Responsibility is not lost on them—they want to succeed as well as keep their freedom.

Our plan must reach these people and establish a connection with them.  There are obvious sub-sets of this public (women, men, Hispanic, etc.), which we will communicate with customly.

Our main objective is to increase brand relevance among 25 to 34-year-olds by 15 percent over the next five months.

Other objectives stemming from this are increasing events for young adult riders by 30 percent and increasing media coverage and placement by 20 percent.

  • Experiment with new media and non-traditional communication channels that will capture the attention of young adults.
  • Associate with and utilize pop culture to improve relevance of the brand with a younger audience.
  • Tell stories that demonstrate the task of balancing life’s responsibilities and freedom.
  • Promote the philosophy of freedom through key opinion leaders in young adult cultures.
  • Create outlets for niche market riders, such as women, to experiment or “test drive” the brand to spur interest.

  • Hold events/parties for young women at popular bars and clubs around major cities.  These events will give women the chance to understand what Harley is all about.  They will be able to sit on bikes, learn the basics of riding and have a good time.
  • Publicize new riders courses through a social media campaign with celebrity participants.
  • Feature story placement in business magazines such as Entrepreneur Magazine, highlighting the commonalities of entrepreneurial business ventures and rebellion and the notion of “breaking from the path.” Other magazines include GQ, Men’s Health and Fast Company.
  • Product placement in shows such as FX’s Son’s of Anarchy, portraying the bikes in a young and fresh, yet (always) rebellious flavor.
  • Sponsor events such as concerts and art exhibitions, along with other, more non-traditional events such as the Summer X-Games and Burton’s Warped Tour.

Program Implementation Plans:

To implement each of these tactics we will need a collaborated effort from the Harley-Davidson public relations team, media relations specialists, as well as the Harley event management team and the director of sponsorships.

The plan will be executed starting May 1st through the month of August.  Below is a breakdown of events and action by month.

(edit: long list removed for space saving.)

The budget for this plan covers sponsorships, events, and product placements.  We project it will cost from $200,000 to $250,000.

Evaluation Plans:
Our objective of increased relevance and awareness to our target public will be measured via survey, comparing the pre-plan survey to the post-plan survey.  We will be able to draw from responses and basically take the temperature of the general sentiments towards the brand after the plan has been implemented.  Other indicators of our success will be the number of participants and followers in our social media campaign as well as attendance of our events.

The stemming objectives will be much easier to measure because we will be able to compare the amount of events hosted and the number of feature stories prior to the implementation of the plan to post-plan.

Feedback and Program Adjustment:
We will report the findings back to the project managers and present to the corporate office.  From there, we will make adjustments to our approach and discuss the effectiveness of each tactic.  We may decide to continue our plan to December, adding new tactics and altering our previous tactics.

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