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British Airways PR Plan Report

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Updated: Jul 22nd, 2021

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Executive Summary

This paper is a PR plan for a leading aviation company, British Airways (BA). Traditionally, people have known BA as an experienced and reliable company, but recent industrial strikes have eroded this perception.

This paper proposes that BA should reclaim its image as the most reliable and experienced company by focusing on improving the perceptions of its employees and customers about the company.

Relative to this goal, this paper proposes several strategies including the adoption of an open communication policy, where the company should invite all stakeholders for an open interaction through social media and face-to-face interactions.

The objective of this strategy is to improve the level of interaction between BA, its employees, and its customers.

Through this interaction, BA should demonstrate that it genuinely cares about the welfare of its customers and employees by showing genuine interest in improving customer service and employee working conditions.

Background

A founding member of the One World Alliance, BA is the national carrier for United Kingdom. The UK government established BA in 1974, but in 1987, the same government privatized the company after nearly 13 years of state control.

Since then, British Airways has cut a niche in the aviation industry as being among the largest airline companies in the world. Indeed, only until 2008, British Airways held the reputation of being the largest airline company in the world, in terms of its fleet numbers.

The company’s main operational hub is at Heathrow airport, but its global presence spans across 150 destinations around the world.

Underlying British Airway’s success is an eroding public confidence about the airline’s reliability as a customer-focused airline company. A series of industrial strikes that nearly grounded the company’s operations in most of its key markets caused the eroded confidence.

For example, throughout most parts of the years 2007, 2008, and 2009, British Airways suffered from a string of industrial actions by its employees. The employees protested poor working conditions and low pay.

The industrial actions caused a series of flight delays and flight cancellations that inconvenienced most of BA’s customers. The disorder dented BA’s public image when stiff competition from rival global airline companies and local low-cost airlines undermined the BA’s market leadership.

BA’s management was unable to contain most of these strikes, thereby further denting the airline’s image as a reliable airline company. Since then, BA’s has had a difficult time trying to redeem its image as a reliable airline company in the eyes of the public.

Situation Analysis

This situational analysis follows four main aspects of BA’s operations: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. They outline below:

Strengths

Most of BA’s strengths stem from its past leadership in the airline industry. For example, BA’s vast global operations earned it the reputation of a respected global airline company with vast experience and operational control around the world.

The company’s expanding fleet of modern aircrafts and the success of some of the company’s loyalty programs (such as the executive club) also comprise some of the company’s key strengths

Weaknesses

Some airline customers regard some of BA’s flights as expensive because many low-cost airlines charge relatively lower prices for air travel. BA has found it difficult to compete with such low-cost airlines because it maintains several extensive global operations.

The high costs of managing and running the extensive global operations have significantly increased the company’s bottom-line costs.

BA’s has also suffered negative publicity from poor services that have culminated through a rise in the number of lost luggage and cancelled flights. These factors have led to the company’s declining profitability.

Opportunities

Since most of BA’s competition come from low-cost airlines, the biggest opportunity that exists for the company is starting a low-cost airline division for its international fleets.

This way, the company would be able to charge low fares for a big part of its core customer base, which is increasingly seeing the rival low-cost airlines as a better alternative than BA.

In addition, since most of BA’s operational costs trace to high fuel costs, the company may invest in the sourcing of alternative fuel to power its aircrafts. This initiative involves funding research and development initiatives that work to serve this purpose.

Threats

Like most airline companies around the world, BA’s greatest threat is increased competition. In addition, as mentioned in the above section of this report, high fuel costs also threaten the company’s future sustainability as it erodes most of its profitability.

BA has also lost most of its cabin crew through its extensive strikes and a crumbling corporate image. This issue has made it more difficult for the company to replace its lost cabin crew, as few potential employees are willing to work with the company.

Message Statement

The emerging themes in this PR plan include customer sensitivity, employee loyalty, and brand consistency. The main idea behind the proposed PR plan is to create a positive brand image by achieving customer and employee buy-in.

In other words, the proposed PR plan singles out BA’s customers and employees as the main stakeholders that have the power to improve the company’s public image.

By achieving employee loyalty, the proposed PR plan aims to convince its customers that all is well with the company and the focus for the company now is the welfare of its customers and employees.

This message statement especially relies on BA’s past image as the leading airline company in the world. The proposed PR plan aims to reaffirm the notion that BA is more experienced, caring, and capable of meeting customer and employees’ demands, compared to other upcoming companies.

Communication Process

The aim of this communication process is to improve the interaction between BA with its employees, its customers, the public, and the media to improve the company’s image in the community. BA’s communication process should stem from a system’s perspective.

The systems perspective will help the organization to communicate with the employees and customers by establishing a stable company image of reliability and community focus. The systems theory explains this model.

Feedback will be an important part of the communication process because feedback may help BA to improve the effectiveness of its communication and PR plans. The communication process will be open to all stakeholders of the PR plan because the PR plan needs to be self-sustaining.

Stated differently, by including the inputs of the company’s main stakeholders (customers and employees), the PR plan will be able to evolve and meet the needs of the organization.

Audiences

BA’s employees and customers outline the focus of the company’s PR plan. Employees are a critical audience for the company because their dissatisfaction with the company created the public image crisis that BA faces today.

In addition, through employee strikes, BA’s customers lost confidence in the company. The employees and the customers therefore outline the main target audiences for BA because both groups stand at different ends of the PR plan.

A change of the employees’ perceptions about BA is likely to rub off on the customers because the employees may offer better customer services if BA’s management pays close attention to their welfare.

Through improved services, BA’s employees will attract more customers to the company. This situation is likely to improve the company’s image, sales, and profitability in the end.

Key Audience Messages

The key audience message of this PR plan is to convince BA’s employees and customers that the company cares for their welfares.

The PR plan should communicate to both groups of stakeholders that the company is genuinely interested in improving their welfare because it understands their importance in achieving corporate success.

Through this commitment, BA should demonstrate that it genuinely values the employees and customers by improving its customer services and rewarding its employees for positive work.

These initiatives should culminate in a “BA open day” program where the managers, employees, and customers meet and share insights regarding the company’s operations.

This way, the company will make the employees and customers believe that it is genuinely interested in their concerns by opening its communication channels to both groups of stakeholders.

Implementation

The best way to reach the target audiences for this PR plan is through social media and face-to-face communication. Demographic assessments of BA’s customers show that the customers frequently use social media. The company can therefore effectively communicate with its customers this way.

Moreover, social media provides a cheap alternative for BA to interact with the customers. However, employees should get a special attention from the top-level management, through face-to-face interaction, because the management should demonstrate that it is genuinely interested in their welfare.

Therefore, BA’s managers should steer the PR implementation process and not fully delegate the responsibility to a PR firm.

Budget

The budget for the public relations plan focuses on research, information gathering, monitoring and evaluation, and strategic integrated communication. The following spreadsheet outlines the budget estimates for these activities.

Activity Qty/Year Hours Expenses Total
Research 0 50 $1,750 $87,500
Information gathering 0 40 $1,000 $40,000
Monitoring and evaluation 0 60 $2,000 $120,000
Strategic integrated communication 0 40 $2,750 $110,000
Base Program Budget $357,500

Monitoring and Evaluation

Measuring Public Opinion

Measuring public opinion is a reliable way of understanding the effectiveness of the PR plan. BA should measure the public opinion before and after the execution of the PR plan, to understand the impact of the PR strategy on the company’s brand.

The public opinion should be measured using customer and employee surveys. Assessing the responses in the customer surveys may show if BA has achieved the objectives of the PR plan, or not.

Social media evaluation

Since social media forms a key part of this PR strategy, social media evaluation may provide a reliable indicator for monitoring and evaluating the impact of the PR plan.

The key indicator of this assessment is the quality and level of interaction between the customers and the company (not the number of followers).

If there is a high level of interaction between the company and its employees, or customers, BA should expect the development of a positive brand image.

However, if the levels of interaction between the company and the employees, or customers, fail to increase, then BA should assume that the PR plan has failed to achieve its objectives.

This report on British Airways PR Plan was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
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IvyPanda. 2021. "British Airways PR Plan." July 22, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/british-airways-pr-plan/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'British Airways PR Plan'. 22 July.

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