Australian Open 2018
Communication refers to the process of exchanging information between two or more parties using a proper channel or medium. As the competition has increased in the global business level, it has become a mandate for the organizations to use several communication methods in order to reach the target audience. The communication channels allow the managers to interact with the audience, identify their needs and demands and communicate to them the products or services being offered. The purpose of the report is to highlight the importance of communication channels and public relations to market an event-taking place at a global level. Using the case study of Australian Open 2018, the significance of communication and marketing would be discussed. The report would contain details about the tennis event, information about the target audience and communication strategies used by public relations practitioners to reach the audience. The effectiveness of the strategies used would also be evaluated to understand the benefits of the communication tools and methods.
2.0 Outline about Australian Open 2018
A tennis tournament and the first Grand Slam event of the year, 2018 Australian Open was held between 15 to 28 January at Melbourne Park. The tournament consists of a series of events played by professional tennis champions in several categories – mixed doubles, single and doubles. Even the wheelchair bound players and juniors are allowed to take part in the tournament. The 2018 version of the tournament was 106th edition of the event. It was organized by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and was also a part of 2018 WTA Tour and 2018 ATP World Tour.
Several players belonging to various nationalities participated in this global event, making it extremely popular. Roger Federer won the Grand Slam title in men and in women, Caroline Wozniacki won it. Being a global level sports tournament, the event was sponsored by several partners. The major partner was KIA and the associate partners were – Rolex, ANZ and Luzhou Laojiao. The other partners were – Dunlop, Accor Hotels, Barilla, Blackmores, Country Road and others (Partners | Australian Open, 2019). The event was highly successful with several world champions taking part in it and millions of spectators watching it.
3.0 Target Audience
Targeting is the second process post segmentation, wherein the marketers further sub-divide the segments to identify the core customer groups or segments so that they can be targeted (Pure.au.dk, 2019). The most common targeting strategies used by the marketers are – differentiated, undifferentiated and concentrated or niche. The viability and choice of the target audience is judged by product homogeneity, market trends, needs of the customer, resources available, marketing environment, market homogeneity and competition in the market (Cross et al., 2015). For this particular scenario, the target audience would be treated as a homogeneous group and hence, undifferentiated targeting strategy was used. As the market segment is large and widespread across different continents, it was not possible for the marketers to cater to the needs and demands of every audience.
The target audience for the tennis tournament were sportsmen or the people interested in sports. The audiences were located in different countries and therefore, targeting all individually was a difficult task for the marketers. The target audience also included the admirers of the sports person taking part in the tournament. The fans are considered to be the most dedicated audiences and hence, they form the larger part of the target audience.
4.0 Evaluation of Communication Strategies
4.1 Importance of Communication strategy to attract audience
A holistic communication strategy is considered a Holy Grail in marketing concept as it allows higher effectiveness and identification of the vested interests of creative agencies, sponsors, clients, audiences and participants (Thegoodpitch.com, 2019). In the earlier times, for instance during 1950s the marketers used traditional form of medium to reach the audience. The updates and news about the events were relayed through radio broadcasting, newspaper advertising and hoardings (Kolb, 2013). Information was also published on sports magazines so that the target audience or people interested in the event are always updated. For instance, in the earlier times, the marketers at Olympics resorted to only traditional mediums in order to reach their target audience.
As technology advanced, several mediums of communication opened up through which the marketers could get in touch with the target audience in a much better manner. One of the most used mediums in the 21st century is social media platforms. Social media platforms are a medium through which the event organizers can reach out to a larger audience base at lower cost and at a faster speed. Social media platforms consist of various sites – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. These social media websites have several users registered in it making its reach far and wide by diminishing the geographical barriers (Panagiotopoulos, 2012). Moreover, the users are extremely active on such platforms helping the marketers to spread the information in a much faster time. For instance, in the 2012 Olympic Games, social media was the most used form of communication strategy by the event organizers (Forbes.com, 2019).
With time, another form of communication strategy that came into limelight was public relations. Public relations are defined as a discipline, which aims at building a positive reputation in the market by garnering understanding and support of the people (Divaportal.org, 2019). Using public relations, the marketers influence the thoughts of the audience regarding the event by building brand equity in market. This helps to motivate the audience to attend the event. In the recent times, the event organizers use both traditional and modern methods to interact with the target audience. For example, for the recent Olympic Games, the marketers published updates about the games on both social media platforms and newspapers. This helped the event organizers to create hype for the event among the target audience leading to larger audience base and footfall. Through the regular updates on the social media platforms, the fans of the sports event and the participants were contacted frequently who also helped in promotion in a way by re-posting the news and the updates. Following this trend, the event organizers of the major sports events use all forms of media to contact the target audience. The advancement in technology has helped the marketers to reach out to the audience in a highly fast manner. Moreover, email and mobile marketing has also gained momentum wherein, updates and alerts about the games and event schedule are sent to the phone of the audience (Baltes, 2015).
4.2 Types of media used to reach audience
The event organizers and the marketers of the 2018 Australian Open used an integrated marketing communication strategy to interact with the audience and promote the event. As per Pseudology.org (2019), integrated marketing communication (IMC), is defined as an integrated approach wherein all the facets of the communication mix is coupled up into one effort with the aim of devising a promotional campaign, which entirely focuses on the customers and their needs. The use of the IMC tool dictates that the choice of the media being used – interactive, mass or personal should be put to use effectively so that the communication objectives set during the planning stage of the event are met. The marketers of the global tennis tournament, focussed on this strategic approach and during the implementation process of the plan, they closely monitored every activity to ensure alignment with the goals set.
As per Heer (2018), the tennis tournament was telecasted in 43 different countries. It witnessed an attendance of more than 173 photographers and 413 journalists. They provided detailed coverage of the event and reported every minute detail of it to the audience. In total, 780 broadcast personnel out of which 251 were domestic broadcast personnel belonging to one domestic channel attended the 2018 Australian Open. Rest 511 broadcast personnel working at 24 different broadcast channels were from international countries. Moreover, the count of the press conferences held during the event was more than 1000.
This huge level of popularity and audience support was only possible to attain for the event organizers as they chose the right channels of communication to spread the information to the target audience. One of the traditional forms of communication used was newspaper advertising. The marketers and event organizers ensured that the schedule of the game and all the other updates were daily posted as an article at the sports section of the newspaper so that people are aware about it. Moreover, the sponsors also helped and contributed in the integrated approach of communicating with the audience. The sponsor organizations used their own set of promotional tools to convey information about the global tennis tournament to their respective audience base.
Other forms of media used to reach out to the audience were radio and television broadcast, social media platforms and public relations. The marketers ensured that all the games were broadcasted across television channels on an international platform so that maximum audiences can be reached (Bik and Goldstein, 2013). By keeping a tab on the TRP of the broadcasting channels, the popularity of the event was ascertained. On radio, the listeners were provided with constant updates of the game and its proceedings. Apart from television, live online streaming was also made available (Macnamar and Zerfass, 2012). Through the social media posts, the views were kept engaged. The effective tool of public relations motivated the fans of the participants and the game to keep on posting about the game and the events on several social media platforms. The participants and hosts of the events also kept posting about the events on their social media accounts, raising the popularity of the tournament on an international level.
One of the targeted social media trends that the event organizers created was on Instagram and Twitter. They created two hash-tags “#ausopen” and “#AOselfie” on Twitter and Instagram respectively, which took the audience by frenzy. The event organizers even created a photo booth, and named it Social Shack, at the venue wherein, the audience was allowed to print and post their Instagram selfie, which increased the delight of the fans (Inc, 2019). The marketers ensured that they six to seven staffs were constantly online on the social media page of the event out of which one of the staff was active at the night hours as well. This ensured that the event organizers connected with the international audience as well keeping with the fan engagement increasing.
4.3 Total cost incurred (in Australian Open)
The 2018 Australian Open was a global event that took place across a long span of time. The event organizers spend huge sums of money on planning and implementing the integrated marketing communication strategies. The event was held on an international level as several participants took part in it and the games were broadcasted across 43 different countries. The participants also got prize money on winning.
As several domestic and international channels covered the event, huge cost was incurred for promoting the event. Several staffs were hired to look after the social media platforms and progress of the event. Several advertisements and hoardings were also put up to attract the attention of the audience. The event organizers have not disclosed the actual amount spent of the marketing strategies however, it can be assumed that huge sums of money were invested in the promotional activity of the event.
4.4 Total audience reached (in Australian Open)
The record of the audience footfall in the year 2018 broke the older records of the 2017 event. In the year 2018, 743,667 people attended the event whereas; in the year 2017, 728,763 people were in attendance of the event. Apart from the total footfall, the 2018 Australian Open broke another record of itself, which was the attendance in the first week. In 2017, 503,382 people were in attendance of the tennis tournament in the first week of its launch; however, in the year 2018 505,443 people attended the event in the very first week (Heer, 2018).
If the statistics regarding the attendance of the tournament were to be discussed based on events, it would still reinstate the popularity of the event. For instance, for Coppers Saturday, an event held in the middle of the week, 87,438 people were in attendance at the Melbourne Park. Some of the busiest days of the tournament, which witnessed the highest presence of the audience at the stadium was first Tuesday, first Saturday, second Monday and second Wednesday.
In terms of communication strategies being deployed, millions of audience were reached. As discussed above, the marketers of the 2018 Australian Open used both traditional and online platforms to connect with the audience. They published information on both international and domestic newspapers. Moreover, updates were regularly being posted on the various social media platforms months before the event was launched. The television channels properly covered all the events so that viewers at home can also watch the games. Several repeats and highlights were also viewed on the television and online platforms so that the interested viewers do not miss the match.
4.5 Overall evaluation of the plan
On overall evaluating the communication strategy used by the event organizers and marketers of 2018 Australian Open, it can be stated that the integrated marketing communication strategy used reaped several benefits adding to the success of the event. One of the main benefits identified was that it helped the organizer to get better results. For instance, in using the just the traditional forms of communication, the marketers had to plan different strategies for different mediums like press release, advertisement and direct interaction with the audience. However, the integrated marketing communication approach allows preparation of a holistic marketing plan (Kitchen and Burgmann, 2010). The use of traditional medium coupled with social media and online medium as helped the event to ensure a larger footfall of the audience in the current year as opposed to the 2017 game.
Another benefit recognized was creative consistency. Using the same creative content through different platforms reinstates the idea of the event in the mind of the audience. On receiving consistently same messages through different mediums, the audiences become eager for the event increasing the number of prospective audience (Mazzei, 2010). This ensures higher customer engagement levels and popularity of the event on a global platform. Cost saving is also an important benefit reaped by the event organizers and marketers of the 2018 Australian Open. As the same strategy is used for different mediums, the cost of planning and strategizing is reduced by a considerable amount. Moreover, social media and online advertising is less expensive as compared to traditional forms of audience communication. Hence, the event managers have managed to reduce the cost of communication strategy by a considerable amount by laying more emphasis on the online mediums and integrated approach of marketing and communication. The integrated approach and online mediums provides the marketers with the opportunity to interact with the audience in a sporadic manner. Such frequent interactions ensure that the customer preferences and needs are understood more clearly thus, allowing better service. Similarly, presence on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, helped the event managers and marketers of 2018 Australian Open event to sporadically interact with the audience and relay the information about the event in a much better manner. This helped in keeping the viewers engaged and increasing the popularity of the event on a global platform. The global broadcasting of the vent across 43 countries increased the audience base of the event making it one of the most popular sports event held across the year.
However, one of the drawbacks of the communication strategy and the marketing plan was that choice of the target audience on online and social media platforms is not possible. The marketing and communication strategy used by the event managers of 2018 Australian Open allowed reaching out to the masses using undifferentiated targeting strategy. However, the mass media strategy took more efforts as the message had to be catered keeping in minds the needs and preferences of different market segments. Hence, it took more efforts on the part of the marketers to understand who the actual target audience are. Another challenge of communication strategy deployed is measuring the success of it. The online and offline medium is too large and hence, measuring the success of each is not possible. Moreover, there are still several people who are not tech-savvy as yet, and hence, laying more emphasis on the online platforms led to not catering the traditional audience.
In order to overcome the drawbacks, the marketers have to ensure that certain steps are taken. Firstly using more tools and methods, they need to ensure that their market research is extremely strong. Time and monetary investment has to be increased on the market research part so that the targeted audience can be found out distinctly and strategies can be tailored based on their needs and expectations. Secondly, certain key performance indicators have to be set for measuring the success of the online communication strategy. This would help in constructive feedback through which the strategies formed can be improved.
6.0 Participant Feedback Measurement Tool
In order to evaluate the success of integrated marketing communication strategies deployed, every event organizer and the marketer reviews the feedback of the audience. However, no one emphasizes on the feedback of the participants. The participants of the game are also equally active on various mediums and interact with the audiences. For instance, several participants are favourite of the masses and are followed by millions on several social media platforms. Hence, taking feedback from the participants would help the event organizers and the marketers to gain an inside view of the success or drawback of the plan.
One of the methods that can be used is conducting a survey among all the participants. The participants would not be limited to the players only but also the volunteers and the other people associated with the planning, organizing, implementing and monitoring of the event. The survey questions would be sent to the participants through emails so that they can take their time to answer the questions post the event is done. Moreover, interviews can also be taken to find out about their views on the communication strategies deployed. Lastly, the accounts of the participants on the social media platforms can be tracked to understand the hype created for the event and the popularity generated among the audience for the 2018 Australian Open.
The report focuses on the importance of the communication strategy and its success using the case study of 2018 Australian Open. Being a global tennis tournament, several participants from different countries participated in it making it a headline catcher Through the report, the success of the integrated marketing communication strategy deployed by the event managers have been discussed. Moreover, the tools used to reach out and interact with the audience have been mentioned along with their effectiveness in context of the event. A set of recommendations have also been provided to overcome the few drawbacks of online communication strategy.
8.0 Reference List
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Mazzei, A., 2010. Promoting active communication behaviours through internal communication. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 15(3), pp.221-234.
Panagiotopoulos, P., 2012. Towards unions 2.0: rethinking the audience of social media engagement. New technology, work and employment, 27(3), pp.178-192.
Partners | Australian Open. (2019). Ausopen.com. Retrieved 30 January 2019, from https://ausopen.com/partners
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