Uber Technologies Inc. is an American global enterprise which permits its clients to use a mobile application to submit a request for a car trip, which is then satisfied by car owners using a similar application and traveling in the same direction. Thus, Uber allows for sharing a car ride. In most countries, this service is cheaper than a taxi; however, in Dubai, UAE, the service is, on the whole, more expensive, which is compensated by certain other advantages (Crompton, 2016). In this paper, a PR campaign is offered to popularize the services of Uber in Dubai.
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Preliminary fact finding
An interview with a representative of Uber revealed that the company is interested in increasing the amount of rides provided via popularizing its services as environmentally friendly, innovative, convenient, and always available for use.
The services of Uber are currently popularized mainly by using the Internet. Numerous reviews of the service in different countries are available on the Web (Proud, 2015; Stone, 2014), as well as the critique of the innovative model of business and comments pertaining to its legal situation; the latter is challenging because a completely new model of business has to develop in an obsolete legal environment that tries to regulate an innovative enterprise using old means (The Economist, 2015a; The Economist, 2015b). Negative reviews can also be found on the Web (Crompton, 2016). Scientific sources also contain information about legal issues that Uber faces (Posen, 2015; Ross, 2015); furthermore, scholars note that Uber’s model of operating presents a disruptive innovation in the taxi business (Cramer & Krueger, 2016), and that this model is likely to become considerably widespread in the future, when “consumer goods will be available as a service” (Smith, 2016). No information about Uber was found on government websites.
The campaign will be aimed at middle- and upper-middle class people working in Dubai who have to travel around the city a few times every day, and who either do not possess a car or might prefer using something else due to a variety of reasons (such as traffic congestions).
Goals and Objectives
In the short term (nearly two or three months), it is expected to raise the potential clients’ awareness of the services provided by Uber and their advantages (fast, convenient, easily available, high-quality), and increase the number of provided rides by 3% by launching a social media campaign and advertising Uber via radio.
In the long term (1 year), the financial goals are to increase the number of provided rides by 10% (and, respectively, to raise the company’s profits by a roughly similar amount). The informational goal of the campaign is informing clients through the social media and radio about the societal benefits of Uber (environmentally friendly, innovative, improving the situation with traffic congestions by reducing the number of cars in use, etc.); thus, the motivational goal is stimulating them to use its services not only because of their convenience but also due to its positive effect on the society.
Messages and Themes
There will be two key themes in the campaign: convenience for the customer and beneficence for the society. The first theme will contain messages advertising Uber as a convenient service providing top-quality rides that is easily available via mobile apps. The second theme will contain messages informing the customers about the causes of traffic congestions (too many vehicles), the environmental pollution that cars cause, and about a possible way to address the problem (lowering the number of cars by using shared rides); information about the possible extensive use of consumers’ goods as services in the future (“sharing economy”) (Cannon & Summers, 2014; Smith, 2016) should also be included.
Communication Strategies and Channels
Communication will be aimed at promoting the image of the company as beneficent and convenient. The strategies will include using messages advertising the availability and convenience (such as “A fast ride that is always available on your phone”) and, in a longer term, the societal benefits (such as “A ride that preserves the environment,” or “Uber: the first step into the sharing economy”). Information about the crux of the service should also be provided. Social media will be used (it is expected that the users will share the messages containing information about societal benefits), as well as radio advertisement. In addition, some information may be provided/leaked to reporters and reviewers to gain positive reviews.
The radio advertisement can be used especially during the rush hour (radio is often listened by drivers and by clients of taxis while they wait in traffic jams). The social media campaign may employ visual materials demonstrating overloaded roads during a traffic congestion, and free roads; a city with smog and a city with clean air; angry drivers sitting alone in their cars in a traffic jam, and happy drivers and passengers communicating during a ride on a free road.
Non-media tactics may stimulate word of mouth by urging the owners of cars who sell their services to Uber spread the information; in addition, the media messages may prompt clients to tell their friends about the benefits of the business if they enjoyed the rides (by using slogans such as “Liked our service? Inform your friends and save the environment!”), thus also promoting the word of mouth.
The campaign should be staffed by hiring a social media campaign specialist, who would be responsible for creating messages for the social media, as well as groups and pages in these media; and by using the services of a PR agency, which would be responsible for contacting the radios and creating messages for them within the proposed strategy.
The budget should include money that will be spent on a social media campaign specialist; these wages will be regular, as this specialist will have to work on the campaign on a regular basis (approximately 20,000 AED per month over 12 months). It should also include money for hiring a PR agency (nearly 30,000 AED monthly, for the amount of services purchased will not be large), and the costs to pay for advertisement on the radio (nearly 1,000 AED per 10 seconds; using 3 radio stations to broadcast messages four times per hour during six most loaded hours a day means 72,000 AED daily, 2,160,000 AED monthly for three months; then, the amount of advertising could be reconsidered depending on the results).
The funding will be covered from the budget of the Uber company.
During the first three months, the radio and the social media campaigns will be utilized. Focus will be made on the convenience and quickness of the service. Some elements advertising the societal benefit (in particular, the potential of the mass use of the service to decrease the number and severity of traffic congestions) will also be employed. After that, the social media campaign will be more focused on environmental benefits; the use of radio advertising might be decreased, depending on the summative assessment, and the stress will also be made on the societal benefits of the mass use of the service.
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Formative assessment may include registering the number of times that the social media advertisements will be shared and viewed. Also, assessing the overall number of customers in Dubai might reflect the effectiveness of both the radio and social media campaign. It is possible to launch the campaigns at different dates in order to be able to better separate the effects of the radio campaign from the results of the social media campaign.
The ongoing assessment will include estimating the overall number of customers per week. Also, because the service is ordered via a mobile phone app, the new clients installing the app on their phone can be asked about the source of information about Uber (the possible answers should include the radio, the social media advertisement, word of mouth, etc.).
The summative assessment should include the comparison of the number of purchased rides during the months in which the campaigns were mounted to that during the months prior to the start of the campaigns. In addition, the data about the number of shares/views of social media advertisement, and the information gathered from the clients surveyed during the app installation process, should also be analyzed.
Creating this campaign allowed me to better understand the process of PR campaign planning, and to gain some practice in this area. In particular, I learned to formulate strategies and tactics for a PR campaign that would address the desires of the potential clients of a company. Because a specific audience had to be reached, I also had to choose the appropriate media (the social media, because users of mobile phones capable of utilizing the Uber app probably also view the social media through their phones; the radio, because the users of taxis are probable to listen to it while traveling), which also provided me with useful experience for the future.
Cannon, S., & Summers, L. H. (2014). How Uber and the sharing economy can win over regulators. Web.
Cramer, J., & Krueger, A. B. (2016). Disruptive change in the taxi business: The case of Uber. American Economic Review, 106(5), 177-182.
Crompton, P. (2016). Transport apps leave some Dubai residents uber-angry. Web.
Posen, H. A. (2015). Ridesharing in the sharing economy: Should regulators impose über regulations on Uber? Iowa Law Review, 101(1), 405-433.
Proud, A. (2015). I said Uber was better than London’s black cabs. And then it all kicked off… Web.
Ross, H. (2015). Ridesharing’s house of cards: O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc. and the viability of Uber’s labor model in Washington. Washington Law Review, 90(3), 1431-1469.
Smith, J. W. (2016). The Uber-all economy of the future. The Independent Review, 20(3), 383-390.
Stone, B. (2014). Invasion of the taxi snatchers: Uber leads an industry’s disruption. Web.
The Economist. (2015a). Driving hard. Web.
The Economist. (2015b).Shredding the rules. Web.
- Purpose: promoting the services of Uber, a car ride sharing company, in Dubai.
- Audience: middle- and upper-middle-class persons.
- Goals: to raise the clients’ use of Uber’s services, also raising the profits of the company.
- Messages: Uber provides fast and convenient service; the shared use of cars lowers the number of vehicles on the roads, decreases traffic congestion, and reduces pollution.
- Methods: social media campaign and radio advertising.
- Logistics: a social media marketing specialist; a PR agency working with radios, financed from Uber’s budget. The campaign lasts for a year, with a possible revision after the first 3 months.
- Assessment: monitoring the number of rides and the number of views/shares of social media ads; surveying clients who install the apps.