Tag: Communication

Mazda Integrated Marketing Communications Case Study

Discussion Questions

  1. Analyze the role of integrated marketing communications in the marketing of automobiles such as the Mazda Protegé and MAZDA6. How is each IMC element used to market automobiles?
  2. Evaluate Mazda’s decision to drop the “Get In. Be Moved’ tagline for the Protegé and adopt the “Zoom-Zoom” theme for its advertising.
  3. Evaluate the strategy Mazda is using to advertise the new MAZDA6 sports sedan. Do you agree with the decision to use a more mature and less playful approach for the MAZDA6?
  4. What recommendations would you make to Mazda regarding its integrated marketing communications strategy as the company moves forward?

Introduction

Mazda has been selling cars and trucks in the highly competitive U.S. market for more than three decades. The company’s various models have always received high marks from consumers in areas such as styling, performance, reliability, and value. Sporty models such as the rotary engine RX-7, which was introduced in 1978 and was Mazda’s signature car for many years, and the Miata roadster helped the company sell nearly 400,000 cars and trucks per year in the U.S. throughout the decade of the ‘80s and into the early ‘90s. However, during the mid ‘90s Mazda embarked on an expansion program in an attempt to compete directly with Honda, Toyota and Nissan. This plan included the introduction of five new models in less than a year that resulted in a lack of focus in the company’s marketing and advertising plans. From 1994 to 1997 Mazda’s U.S. sales declined by 33 percent and reached their lowest level in 15 years as the various models were positioned primarily on the basis of value for the money. When the new president took over Mazda North American Operations in early 1997, he found an inefficient company with an image that was bouncing all around. Most of the advertising for the various Mazda models touted the prices and functional features of the cars with little attention being given to image and positioning. A change in marketing strategy as well as advertising philosophy was clearly needed if Mazda was to regain its strong position in the U.S. market.

Read also Marketing Communications Objectives In AIDA Framework

The Road to Recovery

To begin its recovery, a new marketing strategy was developed which called for Mazda to refocus its efforts and target a younger generation of drivers who appreciate cars with sporty features and want to make a statement about themselves with their cars. In the fall of 1997 Mazda parted ways with its advertising agency of 27 years and awarded its business to a new agency, W.B. Doner & Co., now known as Doner. The new agency was given the charge of building an image that would capture Mazda’s overall personality and set it apart from other cars, i.e., to develop a brand DNA. They were also asked to develop an advertising theme that could be used for the Mazda brand rather than trying to establish a separate image for each model. Doner developed a simple but powerful slogan for Mazda, “Get In. Be Moved.” The slogan was seen as more than just an advertising tagline, it was a brand promise. Mazda’s group manager of brand strategy and communication noted that “It’s an invitation to the consumer; a motivation and a promise that you come to Mazda, you get in, and we promise that you’ll be moved by what our cars have to offer.”

Read also Integrated Marketing Campaign for Shrewd Motors’ Electric Car

Repositioning of the Protegé

One of the first challenges Doner undertook was to develop a campaign to completely reposition Mazda’s subcompact Protegé model for the 1999 model year. The Protegé had been positioned as a car that was a step up from a compact sedan but retained compact attributes such as fuel efficiency and price. The dual market for the Protegé included entry level young buyers and older, empty nesters who wanted a smaller second car. However, the new advertising strategy for the Protegé called for positioning it as a cool, fun and hip to drive vehicle for young, individualistic females. The ads targeted young professional women in their early 20s to mid 30s and promoted euro-chic styling, room for friends, value, reliability, and cool features of the car.

Read also Philip Morris International Promotion and Communications Strategy Paper

To launch the repositioning campaign for the Protegé, Doner developed several television commercials combining computer-generated backgrounds with live action and featuring a group of hip “20-somethings” carpooling in a Protegé. One of the most popular spots was called “Protegé World” and showed the group driving a Protegé through a surrealistic cityscape accompanied by a vocal set to music from the rock group Nails’ “88 Lines About 44 Women,” bemoaning the trials and tribulations of their workday lives. As the car drives off the screen, the voice over describes how the Protegé “is a change from your high-maintenance relationships.”

In addition to the commercials, Mazda also gave the redesigned Protegé a major push on the Internet. Mazda kicked off what it called “the world’s largest online automotive launch party” with banner ads on a number of web sites and portals such as Yahoo!, Excite, America Online’s Autocenter, CarPoint, and MTV. The ads led visitors to the Protegé section of Mazda’s web site, which was created by CKS Group, Mazda’s interactive agency. Once there they could start the Protegé Road Trip where users picked the traits and a photograph of an imaginary travel companion before starting on a cyber journey that included choosing virtual roads to take. Fun facts about the car were offered along the way. While online, travelers could also enter a sweepstakes to win a new Protegé and play trivia games supplied by the game show site Uproar. Mazda also mailed a CD-ROM with music, movie reviews and interviews to people who requested more information while visiting the Protegé web site. The IMC program was extended to dealer showrooms by developing point-of-purchase cubes that used the same imagery and tonality as the television and print messages.
The IMC program developed by Doner was highly successful in repositioning the Protegé and attracting younger buyers. Protegé sales increased 33 percent in the fourth quarter of 1998 and nearly 12 percent in 1999. Imagery perceptions were also used to track and evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign and revealed that the campaign was successful in creating a new image for the Protegé as younger, hipper, and more intelligent. The research also showed an increase in perceptions of the Protegé on key attributes such as overall quality, reliability, and dependability.

Zoom-Zooming in a New Direction

The success of the Protegé campaign prompted Mazda to use the “Get In. Be Moved” as it overall branding theme and as the tagline in campaigns for various other models. However, the company’s marketing executives were still not entirely sold on the tagline. In 1999 Mazda North America hired a new group manager for brand strategy and communications. She felt that Mazda still lacked a strong brand position, as “Get in. Be moved.” was too passive and vague and could just as easily work as a tagline for an airport tram as a car. The new manager was an advocate of the idea of using a unified branding effort as she felt that having a different advertising theme for every model would weaken Mazda’s overall brand image. However, she wanted a theme that could be used to appeal to the driving enthusiast in everyone and build on Mazda’s heritage as the creator of sporty vehicles such as the RX-7 and Miata roadster.
Ironically, when Doner had pitched the Mazda account in 1997, one of the creative ideas that was presented centered on a theme based on the phrase “Zoom-Zoom.” The agency had presented a “brand essence” tape that showed images of children enjoying their “wheels” which included toy cars, tricycles and bicycles. The adults in the pitch tape were shown still expecting and experiencing the same excitement when it comes to their automobiles. In early 2000 Mazda had Doner develop a new branding campaign that would communicate the idea that the company makes fun-to-drive cars for adults who are still in touch with their inner child. The first commercials in the campaign showed a young boy running up to a road and turning to the camera to whisper, “Zoom-Zoom.” Interspersed were images of children laughing and playing with wheeled objects and adults being playful as well (such as a young man riding a shopping cart through a supermarket parking lot). The message also included a bouncy, Jamaican-toned jingle that keeps repeating the “Zoom-Zoom” phrase. The “Get In. Be Moved” tagline still appeared in the ads but was no longer emphasized.

The first Mazda vehicle to use advertising featuring the “Zoom-Zoom” creative platform was the company’s new Tribute sport utility vehicle which was positioned as an SUV with the “soul of a sports car.” The campaign for the SUV broke in August 2000 and ran through late November. The launch of the Tribute was extremely successful and its strong sales continued into 2001. Mazda had also begun incorporating the “Zoom-Zoom” phrase and music in ads for other models which resulted in increases in brand as well as advertising awareness. By the summer of 2001 Mazda had decided to phase out the “Get In. Be Moved” tagline and replace it with the “Zoom-Zoom” message in all of its advertising. Mazda and the agency refused to characterize it as a new tagline as Simmons described it as more of the “mantra” of the automaker noting that “’Zoom-Zoom’ sums up everything we stand for as a company.”
Extending the Protegé Line
By the summer of 2001, the “Zoom-Zoom” message was integrated into all new Mazda advertising which began carrying a sportier look. Advertising for the new Mazda Protegé positioned it as an agile, fun car to drive, with a sports car heritage. New commercials were developed which began with a shot of the Mazda Miata sports car, and asked the question “Where is it written that only a sports car can behave like a sports car?’ in a not so subtle attempt to associate the Protegé with the sporty Miata. The commercial also showed the new 2.0 liter engine Protegé keeping pace with the Miata on a curvy highway to demonstrate its speed and handling. All other elements of the IMC program reflected this positioning.
In addition to changing its advertising strategy, Mazda North American Operations had embarked on a new corporate strategy as well. Part of the Millennial Plan strategy included the launching of a number of new products including two models that were built on the Protegé platform, the Protegé5 and the MAZDASPEED Protegé. The Protegé5 is a four-door hatchback designed to fit into the growing niche of “crossover” vehicles. While many car buyers had rejected hatchbacks as boring and too much like station wagons, Mazda and other car companies were repositioning them as sporty and youthful, as well as practical. The target market for the Protegé5 is approximately 60 percent male, under 34 years old, college educated, with a college education and annual household incomes of nearly $70,000. From a life style perspective, the target consumer has an active lifestyle, makes time to have fun, loves to drive, and is likely to be a car enthusiast. To appeal to this audience, commercials for the Protege5 took the perspective of someone riding a bike zooming about the city, maneuvering around curves and having fun. A second commercial took a similar perspective from a skateboard. The message being conveyed was that if you think this is fun and exciting, you can now have the same experience in the new Protegé5. Advertising for the Protegé5 also noted that it was the only car to score a perfect 10 in Car & Driver Magazine’s “fun to drive” category and was ranked number one in head-to-head comparisons against other competitors in the category. Examples of some of several ads used for the Protegé5 are provided at the end of the case.
In the fall of 2002 Mazda introduced the MAZDASPEED Protegé, a high performance version of the Protegé sedan model. Mazda had previously positioned the Protegé sedan to appeal to young, college-age and professional women and the goal was to extend the appeal of the car. Mazda added some major “bells and whistles” to the MAZASPEED Protegé from a performance aspect to attract more male buyers in the same age range and appeal to real driving enthusiasts. These included a powerful 170 horsepower turbocharged engine, a sport-tuned suspension, racing inspired front air dam, a lightweight rear wing, and aggressive styling. Attempting to capitalize on a growing trend toward street rods, Mazda positioned the MAZDASPEED Protegé model as an affordable “Pocket Rocket” that appeals to the twenty-something, largely male audience that has made “slamming” (customizing compact cars with lowered suspensions, power infusions, outrageous wheels and ear-splitting sound systems) an American phenomenon. According to Mazda’s vice president of product strategy and development, “MAZDASPEED vehicles are the ultimate expression of Mazda performance. This car takes factory-tuned sport- compact performance to the extreme.”

The MAZDA6

Perhaps the most critical new product introduction from Mazda in more than a decade was the launch of the 2003 MAZDA6, the long awaited successor to the 626 family sedan. Mazda’s marketing vice president referred to the introduction of the MAZDA6 as “one of the most important launches in Mazda’s history” since it competes in the mid-size sedan segment of automobile market where most cars sell for $20,000 to $25,000. This is the most important segment of the market, because of its sales volume and the halo effect that results from having a successful brand in this segment. Mazda’s target customer in this segment is a mid-30s car enthusiast, although not to the extreme, who lives an active lifestyle.

The advertising strategy for the MAZDA6 departed from the approach used for the Protegé, as it involved what the company describes as a “more mature” effort that is designed to position the car as a refined, sporty alternative to the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Honda Accord. While the ads still use the “Zoom-Zoom” line, the campaign features a more confident and less playful feel than that used with the Protegé. The commercials are designed to reflect a more “grown-up” approach, with the young boy that appeared in the Protegé ads removed but still delivering the “Zoom-Zoom” phrase in the voiceover. The ads also use more action shots of the car and its workings. Introductory TV spots and print ads focused on attributes such as styling, performance and handling with each calling out mechanical features like zero-loss brake boosters, double-cone synchronizers and/or the car’s double wishbone suspension. A number of the prints ads for the MAZDA6 are also provided at the end of the case.
The promotional strategy for the MAZDA6 utilized a heavily integrated communications program. Print advertising accounted for 12 percent of the overall budget with ads being run in “enthusiast” magazines as well as in lifestyle magazines and newspapers. The broadcast media schedule was heavily weighted to college and pro football and included a marketing deal between Mazda and ESPN. This deal includes advertising of the MAZDA6 through ESPN’s various media including print (ESPN Magazine), TV, radio and the Internet as well as in ESPN Zone restaurants. It also integrates the MAZDA6 into various promotions such as ESPN’s “Pigskin Pick’Em” game and “Exhilarating Moments” along with nationwide exposure through the ESPN Truck. The IMC program for the MAZDA6 also includes an extensive publicity/public relations campaign, direct mail, and the use of interactive media such as online advertising, CD-ROMs, and a mini-web site onwww.MazdaUSA.com. The MAZDA6 also received strong media acclaim including being named one of Car & Driver’s 10 Best Cars for 2003.

Moving Forward

During the 1980s and ‘90s Mazda North American Operations had spent much of its time and effort trying to imitate and keep up with its major competitors in the U.S. market such as Honda, Toyota and Nissan. However, by 2003 Mazda was on its way to returning to its roots as a marketer of sporty, fun-to-drive, stylish vehicles. While overall sales in 2002 had declined by 4.2 percent from the previous year, much of this decline was due to the phasing out of the Mazda 626 and Millenia models. The company had assembled a strong product line with vehicles such as the Tribute SUV, Protegé, and MAZDA6 showing very strong sales. Sales of the Protegé models rose to 83,367 units in 2002, a 5.9 percent increase over the previous year. By July 2003 sales of the MAZDA6 reached 32,297 units as the new flagship sports sedan was on track to exceed the previous year’s sales of the 626, which it had replaced.
In July 2003 Mazda introduced the new RX-8 sports car which had been in development for nearly 10 years and marked the return of the rotary engine. The RX-8 was eagerly anticipated by the automotive community and first few month’s sales were very strong. The success of the RX-8 would be critical to Mazda’s recovery as the senior vice president of marketing and product development referred to it as “our halo car, the one at the top of the mountain.” The launch campaign for the RX-8 included product placements in TV shows and films, including being featured as the escape vehicle for the hero in the movie X-Men 2. One of the launch commercials featured a man’s loving admiration of his RX-8 in his garage being interspersed with his fantasies of open-road driving. At one point he is shown hugging the car and its doors close in such a way that the vehicle seems to be returning his embrace. All of the RX-8 spots feature the “Zoom-Zoom” message.

As Mazda prepared to move forward, the issue now facing the company was to ensure that its advertising, as well as other elements of its integrated marketing communications program, would continue to resonate with consumers and support its positioning platform. Mazda had become identified as the “Zoom-Zoom” brand and a decision had to be made as to whether this was the image that would best serve the company in the highly competitive U.S. automotive market.

Niagara Health System : An Innovative Communications Strategy – Case Analysis Report

Issues Facing the Organization

The key issues facing the Niagara Health System (NHS) is poor communication and public relation. Notably, the hospital’s strategic plans do not entail any public relations metrics. Thus, when it attracted negative public opinion due to the C. difficile outbreak, the NHS was not well equipped or prepared to effectively manage the crisis that stemmed from negative public opinion. Johnston and Sheehan (2020) elucidate that how a healthcare institution responds to a crisis and bad press is crucial to its trust and reputation. The communication and public relations struggles adversely impacted NHS’s reputation as both internal and external stakeholders lost trust with the hospital.

Possible Solutions

            A possible solution to the communication and public relation issues is the formulation and implementation of an innovative communications strategy. The strategy must incorporate both short and long-term provisions. The short-term communications framework will serve as a crisis management and damage control strategy. On the other hand, the long-term aspect of the communications strategy will be geared towards ensuring that the NHS maintains an authentic relationship with all the stakeholders by making them feel they are part of the hospital. According to Pursiainen (2017), an effective communication strategy is one that builds strong relationships with the stakeholders by facilitating regular flow of purposeful information.

Recommended Solutions

            The central aspect of the communications strategy should be the hospital’s message to the public emphasizing what it stands for. For the short-term communications strategy, NHS should ensure to communicate as much information as possible to the public, press, and other stakeholders. The public knowledge of what is going on minimizes room for speculation (Bundy, Pfarrer, Short, & Coombs, 2017). Secondly, the hospital should take responsibility for the situation to pre-empt the blame. Taking ownership demonstrates a sense of responsibility, hence, trustworthiness. Lastly, the organization should ensure to react as fast as possible to avoid further deterioration of its reputation (Johnston & Sheehan, 2020). An effective communications strategy emphasizes character and competence.

            Regarding long-term solution, NHS should integrate the formulated communications strategy into its organizational culture. The key underpinnings of the communications strategy should be integrity, character, and competence. By emphasizing integrity, an organization demonstrates care for others, transparency, and courage to stand by what is right. On the other hand, stressing competence and character cultivates three key values namely honesty, fairness, and authenticity (Bundy, Pfarrer, Short, & Coombs, 2017). Notably, the communications strategy should also incorporate a two-way communications framework so that the community is involved in the decision-making process of the hospital, where applicable. NHS should also leverage technology such as social media to improve its relationship with the public.

Expected Outcomes           

If well implemented, the short-term solution will manage the existing crisis and repair the damage that is already done. NHS has already attracted negative press and public opinion which have adversely impacted its reputation. The short-term communications strategy will repair the reputation and help rebuild trust with the stakeholders. As for the long-term communications strategy, it will ensure that the hospital builds robust relationships with the stakeholders based on trust and mutual respect. The strategy emphasizes two-way communication and transparency, which is what has been missing in NHS’s communications with the stakeholders. The strategy will also allow NHS to be better prepared in case of a future crisis. Bottom line, the expected outcomes include effective crisis management, damage control, repaired trust and reputation, and strong relationships with all stakeholders.

Personal Communication Devices Use In Nursing Practice

How can the use of the nurse’s personal communication device(s) impact patient care positively and/or negatively?

Research performed by Alverina University to determine personal communication devices found that in one colossal hospital corporation situated in the U.S. indicated that about 54 percent of nurses preferred their smartphone to handle clinical duties to any other communication devices (Kenny et al. 2019). Approximately two-thirds of healthcare providers have medical applications on their phones, making them part of their clinical practice. I have to accept that I solely depend on my smartphone to look after my patients in my current practice. I installed the Awhoom pregnancy app on my phone. It is an essential app. I have many patients who previously have complained that they do not receive adequate and effective prenatal care every time they visit the hospital of severe emergencies. Awhoom app helps me quickly determine the approximated time of conception, gestational age, and estimated delivery date.

Moreover, the app also helps me to review many sonograms and ultrasounds, the approximated weight of the fetal, and offering educational contents. With rising technology advancement, mobile healthcare apps are common and widely used by nurses. Using mobile clinic apps can enhance quality treatment, learning, and communication among healthcare providers. The bottleneck of using these apps is that they can cause distraction and interfere with privacy and security when misused.

What are the ethical and legal implications of the use of personal devices?

From this week’s readings, it was noted that nurses who use different forms of social media and social networks need to be cautious. Giving information about one’s practice and confidential data associated with patients’ treatment can be traced and leaked to their family. This can be disastrous as it can tarnish the nurse-patient relationship. We all understand that nursing is among the most trusted fields. According to Hood (2014), involvement in social media or rely on these devices in our daily nursing practices means that we must remain vigilant as part of our professional obligation. Going against patient confidentiality and privacy is a serious problem that can attract legal issues.

Read also Legal and Ethical Aspects in Nursing Practice

What does the professional literature say about how communication devices can support safe nursing practice?

Henderson and Dahnke (2015) argue that the biggest risk of social media in healthcare facilities is the confidentiality and privacy of the patients. Patients have more trust in nurses than any other healthcare expert. Kenny et al. (2019) hold that breaching this privacy and distracting the confidentiality can destroy the relationship and trust between nurses and patients. So nurses must be careful when using social media and sharing patient data. According to Hood (2014), lack of trust between nurse and patient reduces care quality as many patients may feel insecure about revealing their confidential information that may be necessary for their treatment. The Healthcare information portability and accountability act (HIPPA) dictates that the client’s medical records’ confidentiality must be protected. The privacy of patient’s information must be observed when being shared.

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How Communication Flows in a Department in My Current Organization

Companies with strong cultures have a strong flow of communication that moves in every direction. The four types of communication flows are

  • Downward: communication flows from top management down to employees.
  • Upward: communication flows from employees up to management.
  • Lateral: communication flows between employees at the same level.
  • Diagonal: communication flows across different work areas or organizational levels.

Read also Troubleshooting Communication – Incidence Of Failed Communication, Reasons And A Possible Solution

How Communication Flows in a Department in my Organization

Communication flow in my department follows can be described using downward and lateral communication flow. This communication form is used because the company has adopted a hierarchical organization structure, where orders and instruction run from the top management down-ward to the department managers, to the supervisors, and then to workers. Sometimes, department managers can decide to make a follow-up by directly communicating with workers, especially when there is a significant issue. Downward communication helps eliminate tensions and ensure a clear explanation of the department procedures and policies (Kwateng, Osei & Abban, 2014).

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It also aids in providing departmental procedures, individual evaluation and expectations, and training. This form of communication helps create a procedural work culture where workers wait for the guidance of those in authority. The department also uses lateral communication to enhance communication among workers of equal level. This mostly focuses on the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and solving work-related issues. It also ensures proper division and management of tasks within the department.  This form of communication is also used during informal conversations and structured meetings. This form of communication is likely to promote collaborative or cooperative culture in an organization, especially among workers at the same work level. It enhances problems in solving good personal relations in a department (Kwateng, Osei & Abban, 2014).

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Lateral communication also makes it possible for workers in a department to gain collective bargain when speaking against the unwanted practice of unwanted working conditions. The collaborative culture created by lateral communication makes it possible for the department workers to work as a team even when advocating for improved working conditions.

How Can i Improve Personal Communication?

How can i improve personal communication skills before my placement at the hospital?

Remove barriers to effective communication

Stress and emotion- Find a coping mechanism that works to relieve stress in the moment to avoid sending negative signals or making knee-jerk reactions at the workplace

Lack of focus- Minimise the time spent on my phone during the placement period to breaks in order to prevent distractions.

Listening.

Learn to focus fully on the person relaying the message, minimise distractions and try repeating the message over in my mind before providing feedback.

Provide feedback to people I communicate with to ensure that no misunderstanding took place during the relaying of the message.

Avoid interrupting verbal communication to provide counter arguments or defend yourself. Wait for co-workers and patients to finish speaking before responding.

Clarify all information I receive from patients and co-workers.

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Non-verbal immediacy.

Practice non-verbal immediacy techniques such as gestures, eye-contact, Relaxed posture, smiling, standing or sitting close to the people I speak to especially the patients to close the perceive power distance between myself as a healthcare professional the patient. To ensure the patients are not afraid to communicate their concerns to me.

Read also Non-Verbal Immediacy Interpersonal Communication Strategy

Improve on how I deliver and interpret Non-verbal cues in communication.

Research the ethnic and cross-cultural diversity in the workplace as well as among the patients to avoid misreading cues on cultural context. Consider non-verbal signals used throughout the length of the communication instead of just focusing on one negative or positive cue.

Avoid sarcastic comments, satirical expressions in written communication since they may not always be interpreted the way I want them to be in addition to being completely unprofessional. Make sure my body language matches the words I use in verbal communications to minimise the perception that I am being dishonest.

Read also Turkle’s Informing Vision – Human Beings need Focus More on Interpersonal Communication

Communicating under pressure.

The hospital is a highly stressful environment I must learn to stay calm under pressure at the workplace. In addition, I must learn to deliver effective communication to patients and co-workers under this high pressure environment.

Learn to pause before giving any response in order to collect my thoughts to provide babbling or incoherent statements that waste time and frustrate the listener.

Make one point at a time, pause to allow the listener to internalize it, then proceed to the next point.

Deliver verbal and written communication with clarity, elaborate if necessary.

Avoid the use of medical Jargon while communicating to patients. Clarify any technical terminology used.

Non-Verbal Immediacy Interpersonal Communication Strategy

Non-Verbal Immediacy

Non- verbal Immediacy is a form of interpersonal communication strategy that is meant to close the perceived psychological distance between individuals by adopting the use of non-verbal cues that evoke liking and declaration of feelings towards communicators. Immediacy in communication is best attained through the use of non-verbal communication techniques such as smiling, gestures and touching. These techniques are meant to develop interpersonal relationships by increasing sensory stimulation during the process of communication. This increase in sensory input draws people towards the communicator, reduces the perceived psychological distance and provides for a low power influence relationship. Non- verbal immediacy communication strategies are of particular importance in situations where the relational power gap between communicators is significant and can reduce the effectiveness of communication.

Read also Turkle’s Informing Vision – Human Beings need Focus More on Interpersonal Communication

In light of this, researchers have focused on non-verbal immediate behavior in the classroom where this relational power gap is more obvious than in any other area. Immediate behavior in the classroom has been associated with better learning outcomes, improved perceived teacher credibility, affective learning and liking which has been linked to greater cognitive learning outcomes. On the other hand, non-immediate behavior such as; looking away, formal body posture, stern expressions, negative head nods and leaning away increase the perceived psychological distance between individuals by communication avoidance behavior, dislike and coldness. These non-immediate behaviours cause the subject of a communication strategy to move away from the communicator, dislike him/her, evaluate him/ her negatively and develop a negative preference towards him/her.

To examine the specific role that non-verbal immediacy plays in student learning, York (2016) conducted a quantitative and qualitative research to determine the correlation between non-verbal immediate input and improved student learning, involving 8,000 undergraduate students from a mid-sized mid-western university in the United States and two instructors who utilized, high non-verbal immediacy and low non-verbal immediacy respectively. The researcher analyzed the results of the pretests and post-tests, survey questionnaires and focus group data and obtained a positive correlation between greater use of non-verbal immediate behavior and greater recall of short term course information from quantitative data. Student learning was also greatly affected by the degree of non-verbal immediacy regardless of the material that was being taught. Students who received instruction from the Instructor with high non-verbal immediate behavior reported paying attention more in class while students who received instruction from the instructor with low levels of immediate behavior reported being bored and wandering off (York, 2016). From the results of this research, it can be concluded that a non-verbal immediacy is an effective tool that can be utilized to provide enrichment to the learning environment that enables the student to pay more attention to an instructor’s verbal communication.

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How best can non-verbal immediacy be employed as a communication strategy?

Well, according to Richmond & McCroskey (2004), non-verbal immediacy can be achieved if communicators employ several non-verbal cues during communication such as standing or sitting in close physical proximity to other people while talking to them, maintaining eye contact or looking in the overall direction of the subject while communicating, maintaining a relaxed posture, employing the use of gestures such as hand movements and calm movements of the body, changing voice pitch, speaking in relaxed tones, smiling at the subjects, nodding, Touching hands or forearms as well as patting on the shoulder. There is consensual agreement among educators and researchers alike that the resultant non-verbal immediate behavior is an effective and crucial part of teaching. According to Ozmen (2011), the perception of who is an effective teacher by 450 student teachers in 3rd and 4th year classes of undergraduate ELT programs in Turkey and, Japan and USA measured using a non-verbal immediacy scale self-report show that teachers accord with the idea that non-verbal immediate behaviour was an effective method of teaching with the highest scores being obtained in American student teachers.  

Non-verbal immediate behaviour impacts positively on motivation especially to learning new information as was proven by Hsu (2006). According to the research, there is a positive correlation between non-verbal immediate behaviour and the motivation to learn English. This was proven when 303 participants from a technology University in central Taiwan were involved as respondents to instruments that were designed to measure the frequency at which non-verbal immediacy influences the motivation to learn English. The research employed multiple regression analyses and Pearson correlation to show the specific non-verbal immediate behaviours that correlated with increased motivation which included, smiling, use of gestures, adopting a relaxed posture, vocal variation and the use of a monotone voice (Hsu, 2006). These behaviours were shown to reduce the fearful environment that instructors often unknowingly create inside the classroom and create a more enabling environment for students to communicate by raising concerns, asking questions and engaging with the instructor in constructive debate about the subject.

Despite its applications in improved communication, non-verbal immediacy can be limited especially when gender and cultural constructs are employed. According to Santilli & Miller (2011), women often perceive more non-verbal immediacy than men in symmetrical power relationships. Moreover, cultural power is a variable moderating factor in non-verbal immediacy with highly dominant individuals often acting as the determinants of how much immediacy will be employed in communication. Societies with greater levels of social-hierarchy might exhibit a low level of immediate behaviour especially considering the fact that differences between superiors and subordinates in the cultural constructs are valued and cherished. This research utilized three-way ANOVA to determine the effect of the independent variables of country (Kenya, Brazil, USA), power condition and gender on the dependent variable which was non-verbal immediacy. The research partially supported the hypothesis that the degree of difference in non-verbal immediacy in symmetrical power relationships versus asymmetrical power relationships is greater in medium-high power cultural conditions (Brazil, Kenya) than in low power cultural conditions (USA).

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From the discussion presented above, there is a consensus that when specific techniques are employed in they result in non-verbal immediacy that increases the effectiveness of communication, especially in the classroom. Apart from increasing the level of student engagement in the classroom, non-verbal immediate behavior has been shown to increase the level of motivation for learning displayed by students as well as improve the cognitive outcome of learning. However, specific limitations of non-verbal immediacy can be observed when communicators reside in cultural constructs that enable a high power relational gap between dominant individuals and subordinates. Further research on non-verbal immediacy could focus on the role of non-verbal immediacy as a communication strategy to improve internal motivation within an organizational context. Moreover, since individuals from different genders perceive non-verbal immediacy differently, further research should be done to determine the effect of the communicator’s gender on the effectiveness of non-verbal immediacy as a communication strategy.

Nike Organizational Communication Strategies Analysis

Nike Organizational Communication Strategies

Nike, which is a company based in New York, is a global leader in the sports market since the late 19th century. Founded by Phil Knight in 1972, Nike has been at the frontline in providing athletes with sportswear and gear across a variety of different sports. It is widely agreed that communication is an important tool necessary for the success of any organization. The sports industry is unique when compared to other industries in that the innovation of sports products is rather fast and products are easily affected by customer preference and emotions. Because of this reason, sports giants like Nike has ensured that their communication strategies remain at the very top level in order to ensure that the organization performs optimally (Cheney et.al, 2004). The main aim of this study is to examine and analyze the organizational communication methods that are employed by Nike and attempt to examine the effectiveness of both the written and verbal communication with regard to the manner in which it is executed. More specifically, this study will assess the written works of the organization, and try to view the effectiveness and impact of the communication with regard to its mode of transmission.

            The communications strategy that is employed by any organization should meet the requirements of the products and services that it produces. The communication strategy used by Nike directly communicates to both the customers and the employees. The communications strategy employed by any organization should also represent the mission of the company and the values in which it believes and stands for. Utilization of a marketing communication mix plan allows an organization to promote its products and business while at the same time minding the dynamics of the market.

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The marketing communications mix involves the use of tools media and messages. Tools are interchangeable and can be used for achieving a variety of objectives. For instance, a tool such as personal selling can be used to inform the decision to buy while a tool such as advertising can be used to create awareness about the product (Fill, 2002). Nike has different customers. The company makes shoes for men, women and children of all ages. Additionally, the company is not only focused on shoes but also designs other athletic products like jackets, shorts, socks, caps, tracks, balls and other sports gear (Zick, 2013). The mission of the company is to provide inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. In order to communicate effectively with its wide customer base,

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Nike has been making use of Visual communication mainly. The use of visual advertisement has proven to be an instrumental method for Nike to effectively promote its products and communicate with its customers. Nike mostly makes use of sponsored athletes from various sports to promote their products (Zick, 2013). These athletes are usually popular and famous individuals and this technique has greatly increased the company’s customer base. Nike has recruited several athletes in different countries as brand ambassadors including Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Lance Armstrong to spearhead advertising campaigns that will increase the salient nature of their brand by playing on consumer inclination to act, behave and dress as their favourite athlete. Moreover, the loyalty that most fans display for these fans turns to brand loyalty for Nike. However, this kind of advertising strategy has not been without its drawbacks, brand ambassadors have been involved in scandals over the past which has reflected badly on the company.

            Customer support is also another important element of organizational communication that is critical for the success of a company. It is important that consumers are able to provide feedback on their experiences with certain products or services or gain assistance in case of any issues with the product. Because of this reason, many companies in the modern world have been making use of customer support help-lines that operate around the clock to ensure that each and every customer is satisfied and assisted in case of any arising issues. Nike has provided its customers with efficient customer support that will respond to any queries via different platforms from social media platforms to emails and even calls. Another issue that is of great importance especially in the sports industry is product personalization. The modern world has become increasingly dynamic because of rapid developments in spheres such as fashion and technology. Because of this reason, there are more and more customers that prefer customized products to the conventional and originally designed products. Many customers prefer goods in certain colours or with some personalized writing these days. In order to satisfy this growing need, Nike has developed the NikeId. This is an online account that allows members to personalize certain products and have them created within a limited amount of time (Mumby, 2018). For example, if a certain shoe is being offered in only three different colours, then a customer that would want a customized version of the same product would simply have to go online, log in to their Nike account and personalize their product according to their specification. This modern mode of consumer interaction has proven instrumental for Nike in its customer relations.

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            Effective use of visual communication can also be seen in the manner in which the company brands itself. The Nike swoosh symbol along with the slogan of ‘just do it’ has especially positioned the brand of the company in the minds of the consumer through the use and identification of Nike products globally. The mixture of advertising, personal selling and direct marketing has allowed Nike to effectively promote its products to an international market and to ensure that its brand image is strengthened to maximize on profits (Mumby, 2018). It is important to also note that Nike has also been at the forefront of social media marketing. The modern world is filled by social media enthusiasts. Rapid developments in the telecommunications industry have seen the rise of the social media frenzy and today, most young adults and teenagers remain glued to their phones and prefer to use social media platforms as their preferred mode of communication with friends and loved ones. Because a large percentage of the organization’s customers are from this bracket, it is important that Nike is familiar with the current trends and changes in Social media and ensure that the company can communicate with customers on a variety of social media platforms (Mumby, 2018).

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            The use of public relations is also another critical element of the communications plan currently employed by the company. The use of public relations by Nike is a means of dealing with the numerous social issues that challenge its business operations. The use of public relations by Nike has been instrumental especially in issues such as the use of sweatshops and as well as handling the pressure of implementing green technology. The utilization of public relations is also important for the company to communicate and deliver information with stakeholders with regard to present and future activities of the firm. Nike also sponsors numerous sporting events as well as athletes. The company uses these activities to target different customers’ with regard to whatever the company does to deal with the social issues that are relevant. The use of public relations in Nike’s communication plan is to deal with social issues as well as promote the brand (Zick, 2013). Doing this ensures that both future and present customers create a better idea and perception about the brand and its products. Conclusively, Nike employs the use of effective communication plans to ensure optimal revenues are achieved from the sale of its goods and services.

Nike uses videos for internal branding and communication to its employees. This particular method enables the company to relay information to its employees in an engaging and exciting way. Nike runs several sports training camps each year for young athletes and prepares recaps in the form of videos to use in internal communication. When integrated into the company’s communication strategy, these videos make the workplace engaging and exciting, they boost the morale of the workplace and lead to greater levels of organizational commitment (Odell, 2015).

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Nike’s CEO Parker employs different leadership techniques in response to different circumstances within the company. One particular technique that elevates the level of internal communication within the company is the use of a participatory leadership style that has been found to improve employee performance considerably especially when leaders use low directive communication (Polston-Murdoch, 2013). This was clearly evident when Parker noticed that his R&D department had too many ideas and were unable to narrow them down to respond to the company’s needs at the time. He sat down with them and helped them determine what the needs of the company were and develop criteria to reject ideas that did not respond to these needs. Parker also believes in soliciting feedback from employees in every tier of the organization. This regard for feedback makes for effective internal communication and ensures the corporate structures within the company do not interfere with communication.

Communication Plan Executive Summary

This document describes a communication plan that is designed to improve the communication strategies employed by Nike Inc.

The goals of the communication plan are:

  • Improve the clarity and conciseness of messages delivered to external and internal audiences.
  • Improve the speed at which the company responds to the needs of its audiences.
  • Provide recommendations for the improvement of the effectiveness of written and verbal messages delivered to audiences.
  • Posit ways to improve the alignment of communication strategies with Nike’s vision, values and mission.
  • Recommend ways through which communication can be utilized to improve the internal and external perception of the organization.
  • Propose guidelines and procedures to be utilized in implementing the communication plan.

Target groups: Internal audiences; employees, the board of directors, managers and stakeholders, External audiences; consumers.

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Introduction

Nike Inc. utilizes marketing communication mix to promote its brand to external audiences as well as effective organization communication strategies to communicate with its employees. This is accomplished through the use of different communication mediators such as print and electronic media, social media, company websites, email, sponsorships, symbolic behaviour and affiliation with influential sports personalities. The communication strategies employed by Nike are indeed robust, and incredibly effective. However, there needs to be a more effective way to deliver information in times of crisis and controversy that will prevent deviation from the company’s values, mission and vision, ensure that all audiences are provided with trustworthy information that is free from justification and the ‘noise’ that results from passing information through the various layers present within the structure of the organization. Moreover, there is a need for more feedback from employees in distant locations to prevent the future occurrence of incidences such as the ‘sweatshop’ controversy. This can be accomplished by providing information that is clear and concise, aligning communication strategies to the core values of the company and adopting increasingly effective communication strategies that can meet the needs of its global workforce and clientele.

Communication strategies.

Strategies developed for communication seek to answer the questions of How? And Why? to the subject of implementation. To ensure conciseness and clarity of the message delivered to the various audiences, the message must maintain its clarity from the mind of the sender by ensuring that it is supported by facts and observations to remove the need for unnecessary details and meaningless explanations. The sender must also demonstrate empathy for the recipient by responding directly to the requirements of the audience he/she is sending the message to and use language that is appropriate to the level of understanding demonstrated by the audience. Moreover, multiple channels should be utilized to send the same message to ensure that there is no reduction in clarity through deformation. The message should contain simple language, easy construction of sentences which should be easy to grasp, highlight all the main issues, minimize its use of Jargon and provide no room for assumptions that would lead to misunderstanding. It is often the responsibility of the sender to ensure that his message is concise but information may lack clarity despite the sender’s intention to achieve this objective. This deficiency can be addressed by providing the action of the recipient to provide feedback that could be utilized to modify the message so that it is clearly understood. In the case of Nike, the objective of conciseness and clarity has been achieved through the simplified visual messages relayed to external audiences on social media platforms as well as electronic media. Nike values the feedback of its clients and actively responds to the needs of each individual client. However, there needs to be an improvement of the communication that exists between top-level executives and low tier labourers in the manufacturing process to prevent the exploitation and abuse of workers that has been the source of great controversy for the company over the years.

Nike has not conclusively dealt with the sweatshop controversy as well as sexual harassment allegations against its top-level executives and has employed various distractions to shift the attention of the audience from the crisis and drive up sales. However, the key to solving these problems lies in improving the speed at which the company responds to the needs of its audiences. It can be assumed that no American wants to buy products that were made in poor conditions nor does any individual want to work for a company that condones sexual harassment. To improve on the speed at which these issues were tackled, Nike needs to undergo a delayering of corporate structure in order to facilitate speedy communication that can transmit information without being subject to corporate filtering, delay, manipulation and distortion. There needs to be standardized processes and practices to respond to the needs of audiences and spokespersons need to be trained on how to communicate under stress to external audiences. This can be done using test simulations of crisis situations that familiarize the employee with the high-stress scenario and provide a safe way for the employee to make mistakes and learn from them. Communication strategies need to improve their consideration for cultural and language barrier within the internal audience and reduce the distance between members by ensuring every member under the employ of the company has access to the communication channels utilized by the company.

Recommendations

The multi-step flow theory could be utilized to improve the effectiveness of communication within the company. The theory states that information undergoes several relays as it moves from the sender to the recipient (Weimann, 2017). This is especially true in the case of Nike due to the significant levels that exist within its vertical structure. To reduce the noise that occurs from the action of the relays present within the organization, the company can use multiple channels of communication to send messages to its audiences, especially its internal audience. The same message could be communicated verbally, via a corporate email and through the company newsletter to make sure that everyone stays informed and no one distorts the message for whatever reason. The best practice is for the senders to inform themselves fully about the subjects of the message, ensure that they have a common ground of experience with the recipient and establish mutual trust with the recipient. The cybernetics theory should also come in to play to inform the company on the importance of regular feedback as a means to ensure the measurement of effectiveness and the initiation of corrective strategies to account for deficiencies (Krippendorff, 1985).

The company should communicate its core values to its employees and how their job descriptions relate to the corporate communication strategies within the organization. If employees do not understand how their jobs relate with the communication strategies within the company and how these strategies align to the company’s vision, mission and values, they will not see the necessity to implement the strategies. For instance, employees who are not informed that it is their responsibility to solicit feedback on how to provide more innovation to the company’s products may not see the need to do so. The company should also simplify their communication strategies in order to minimize information filtering. This can be accomplished through the use of multiple channels of communication to send one message to ensure that it does not get distorted as it goes through the different levels of corporate structure within the company.

The company should also act proactively on the feedback provided by the external audience and allocate resources to research that will facilitate innovation of products. The feedback provided should not be general but specifically measure patterns of behaviour in the company that need to be improved upon, should avoid making assumptions or judgments, focus on a desire for change within the organization and contain accurate and well-timed information.  There should also be a balance between the company’s internal needs and the external needs of the company to prevent a deviation from its values in an attempt to please the customers.

To improve its perception among its audiences, Nike should ensure that it regains its trustworthiness in the eyes of its internal audience by providing equity in compensation especially in overseas locations in Asia. The company should be consistently honest and keep the promises it makes to its external audiences with regard to corporate responsibility and ethical practices. The company should ensure that it communicates in a timely manner to its internal audience during and before controversial events and maintain accurate and detailed information about corporate decisions and organizational issues. Moreover, the company should limit its association with controversial figures within the society and effectively address the external audiences’ issues following the occurrence of negative organizational events in press releases and verbal accounts.

Guidelines To effectively implement the strategies and recommendations above, the company spokespersons and managers should be actively involved in improving the perspectives of the external and internal audiences. Employees, leaders and stakeholders should be in charge of ensuring that the messages they send are clear and concise, Leaders and managers should ensure that effective communication is achieved through the use of strategies that take communication models and theories into account. Moreover, the public relations department should solicit feedback from employees and consumers in order to provide measurement to the effectiveness of the company’s communication strategies. The company would utilize the existing channels of communications such as; company website, social media, corporate email, informal communication channels among company employees, press releases in print and electronic media, verbal accounts and existing spokespersons.

Project Management Maturity Model, its Role in Increasing Productivity, Importance of Organizational Strategy, Project Communication and use of Project Quality

Over the past century, businesses have morphed into complex entities with numerous dynamics, yet with the sole objective of striving for success and accompanying cumulative gains. It is for this very reason that firms have been known to set clear goals and objectives meant to guide a company’s trajectory as it contends with a myriad of challenges and opportunities bound to be faced in the near future. Achieving set goals and objectives is a taxing mission which requires the participation of all parties involved to charter a clear organizational course. Project management has, therefore, emerged as a feasible approach for company’s seeking to attain set aims. While there are suitable options for firms seeking to make headway in a competitive environment, managers are increasingly facing immense pressure when confronted with multiple projects requiring high levels of expertise and attention (Buys, A., & Stander, 2010).

This reality has now prompted the application of nascent tools such as the project management maturity model (PMMM) to clearly define apposite projects, their commencement, and evaluation of the progress made. For instance, the New York Times Company (NYTCo) currently represents the epitome of PMMM use for Information Technology (IT) organization and timely delivery of projects. I had the rare opportunity of witnessing this first-hand as an intern working for the company and the primary reason why it is a significant segment of my professional experience. This paper will, thus, evaluate the Project Management Maturity Model, its role in increasing productivity, the importance of organizational strategy, project communication and the use of project quality. Real-life examples of successful and troubled projects will also be provided, earned value analysis and how the likelihood of success can be found within an organization reaching maturity in terms of project management.

Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM)

The Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM) a new-age notion which when applied allows a firm to evaluate its success in project management. Project-Based Organizations applying this model are bound by the two dimensional framework from which it operates after the commencement of a project. Using industry-accepted principles, project management maturity model reflects the extent of maturity and areas addressed during the entire process. According to Gershon (2013), businesses which fail to underscore the importance of Project Management performance typically lose revenue as a consequence of heightened costs per project and inferior output (p.12). Thorough evaluation of a company’s PMMM is, therefore, fundamental in improving business processes and increasing the chances of success. In the mid-1980s, researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University from its prestigious Software Engineering Institute created the framework to evaluate software service provider before determining whether they were capable of delivering highly complex projects. It soon became apparent that the model could also be applied in a wide array of sectors to review of the capabilities of project management. PMMM is hailed for providing a clear sense of direction and structure to firms, in addition to serving as an important determinant of project management success.  Companies implementing PMMM often seek to improve the awareness of employees within regarding the importance of consistency in project management.

Five Levels of PMMM

            PMMM comprises of five levels signifying specific stages of project management within an organization. Each level represents specific areas which must be explored if the company is to develop a robust organizational culture warranting the successful.

  •  Level 1: The Initial Process. This level is characterized witharbitrary company operations and insufficient execution of control tools. The significance of project management is also recognized here and terminology associated with it for the purpose of accuracy. NYTCo was cognizant of this reality and the primary reason why a Project Management Office (PMO) was created to disseminate key details in relation to project management.
  • Level 2: Common Processes. This level identifies shared processes which may recur in company projects. It identifies planning and risk management as major areas of focus which should always be considered before commencing with the project. The common process also creates a unique opportunity for managers to review available processes before identifying one suited for a project.
  • Level 3: Singular Method.  The third level involves the amalgamation of all available approaches into a single process. This then allows managers to exercise control over the processes devoid of any emerging challenges.  It is also in this particular level that quality assurance and training. At NYTCo, the decision to implement a single process in Information Technology (IT) organization was influenced by the importance of streamlining the processes which ultimately allowed teams to liaise continually.
  • Level 4: Benchmarking. This level involves an in-depth review of the company’s position and possible competitors within a company’s scope. Benchmarking is imperative and should be conducted frequently by organizations. This is solely due to the fact that it provides an accurate breakdown of capacity management and management metrics which determine a firm’s success.
  • Level 5: Continuous Improvement: The fifth level involves reviewing data gathered after benchmarking and determining whether it is capable of improving a company’s processes.  It focuses on the management of innovation and the proactive management of problems. Optimization becomes a major focus to improve project management performance to introduce a competitive edge.

            It is noteworthy to acknowledge that companies can improve productivity using PMMM. The model plays a significant role in allowing managers to gain a comprehensive understanding of company dynamics and the best time to invest in programs. This allows firms to surmount organizational roadblocks while addressing individual development needs of company staff. Furthermore, identifying qualified individuals to occupy key positions result in adherence to meritocracy and proper sequencing of performance activities. The identification of strengths and weaknesses also allows managers to position project members in a suitable location to optimize performance (Goswami, 2015). It creates a clear sense of direction for organizations; guiding them to the best return on investment. PMMM also creates self-motivated employees who make use of available resources for the greater good of the organization. It also removes ambiguity which allows employees to tackle clearly defined milestones and goals. Planning, reporting, and monitoring by senior managers further guarantees improved productivity through proper management practices.

Organizational Strategy and Project Management

The importance of organizational strategy in today’s fast-paced world and project management’s need’s association with objectives has become a significant area of focus within scholarly discourse. A company’s organizational strategy refers to all intended plans to be implemented with the ultimate objective being the long-term goals. An organizational strategy also identifies business and functional objectives which can be easily attained by middle managers and functional managers. Within a project management context, organizational strategy is often synonymous with strategic planning and the development of a customary procedure for project management. Project management maturity model is currently widely regarded as an important tool in project management through its propensity to improve overall productivity no matter the size of the enterprise. The modus operandi applied within a company can change at any given to enable companies to enjoy overall success. However, most organizations fail to develop an appropriate strategy to suit an organization’s needs and one which is implemented successful.

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A considerable rift currently exists between the creation of a suitable strategy and successful execution. The situation is even worse within major companies especially since employees are under immense pressure produce results and realize success. Using the top-down approach, senior executives and managers hand down numerous demands for lower and upper management (Project Management Institute, 2013). These teams ultimately cooperate and work jointly in the decision-making process to guarantee wise choices which would result in the development of practical strategic plans to influence the company’s success. Similarly, organizational strategies aid firms in managing multiple projects as is often the case. Employees approach this complexity using a strict code which ensures firms are well-ordered in their approach and adaptable as important attributes key to realizing strategic objectives. Such was the case at NYTCo where all members of staff were expected to play a central role in ensuring the PMMM achieved its objectives through strategic management. This improvement initiative sought to compare the company with set organizational maturity standards to gauge its current standing.  The presence of an organizational strategy also allowed the company to acknowledge the urgent need for mechanism to aid in gaining a deeper understanding of how to improve maturity in the long run. This was particularly important in the development of a project management culture, making fellow employees more receptive to change and executive support.

Project management also plays a central role in allowing employees to develop comprehensive strategic plans. This goes a long way in fostering organizational success through an increase in productivity and net revenue. Upper management commonly regards project management as the most important segments of an organization since it guides future endeavors and captures future clientele. In this particular case, a strategic plan would be ideal since it would allow the company access additional clients with a higher standards and bargaining prices.

 Project Communication Methods

Communication is arguably one of the most important aspects influencing organizational success. Companies with superior communication strategies disproportionately thrive in their respective fields and soar above contemporaries, therefore, experiencing higher rates of triumph. Project managers play a significant role in coordinating some of the most important activities and programs within a company. It is for this very reason that effective communication skills have been identified as the most important abilities that any project manager can possess. An open line of communication creates a steady flow of information ensuring participants are updated sufficiently on company activities. Communicating with employees on a regular basis also strengthens bonds and creates a scenario where leaders are aware of employee’s needs and quite capable of addressing concerns raised during the start of a project. Continuous interaction with a team, therefore, plays a significant role in ensuring that members are cognizant of their responsibilities and stakeholders who they should communicate with.

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Stakeholders also represent a significant element within a company. In particular, they serve an important role in project management since their decisions are capable of altering the course and direction of any given project.  They also decide whether a project should continue or be halted based upon feedback obtained after inception. High levels of communication between employees and stakeholders require clear definition of the following areas;

  1. Defining stakeholders.
  2. The type of information relayed.
  3. Layout and format of communication.
  4. Frequency of communication.
  5. How to address escalations.
  6. How to gather information from stakeholders.

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It is only through strict adherence to the areas above that communication can be conducted effectively. These areas can, therefore, be used to determine who the stakeholders are and the most appropriate style of communication.

NYTCo displayed a high regard for stakeholders in relation to communicating with them correctly to guarantee success in project management. During the application of project management maturity model, the project manager was tasked with creating a clear channel of communication with stakeholders to update them on the progress made and long-term goal. Furthermore, several areas required the approval of senior management before commencing with the project. The project manager too up this role and ensured each party bore a clear understanding of the steps required which was vital in making certain the project was completed conclusively. Regular meetings also became a staple within the company as an avenue where progress could be discussed and concerns addressed. Stakeholders were accorded a unique opportunity to propose changes they wanted to see effected to improve chances of success and applicability of the current framework. It was through the project manager’s exemplary communication skills that the project thrived and realized set objectives.

Effective communication requires project managers to hone particular skills in order to succeed in efforts to relay important information to employees and stakeholders alike. They should display superior communication skills as well as being able to listen to the concerns of all involved. Active listeners have a higher chance of being confronted by receptive stakeholders since it can determine whether the information has been understood as intended. Gaining a deeper understanding of all available dimensions of communication, therefore, plays an important role in determining the long-term success of an organization through project management.

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Project Quality

The quality of a project is an important aspect which should always be put into consideration by project managers.  Factors impacting project quality may either be internal or external and applied within the overall organizational framework. Addressing both internal and external factors is crucial for success since major areas of concerns will have been met for the organization to thrive. Mitigating risks and effective planning are some of the main metrics used to determine the efficacy of the style applied and an important factor to consider when investigating project quality. It creates a sense of adequacy in a project since it is completed appropriately with all areas of concern having been addressed.  A quality management system (QSM) is typically implemented to breakdown a project to employees and their responsibilities in the task at hand.

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Earned value analysis (EVA)

            Attaining organizational success is highly dependent on the presence of controls within a project, in addition to regular monitoring to assess progress. This has prompted project managers to seek suitable frameworks which would enable them conduct their duties effectively while guaranteeing progress. The work breakdowns structure (WBS) and critical path methods (CPM) have often been used as essential tools in aiding project managers confronted by this monumental task. Recently, the earned value analysis (EVA) tool has been preferred over CPM and WBS during the developmental phases of project. EVA has been hailed as a welcome addition since it allows project managers to track the progress made to determine success.

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The earned value analysis (EVA) tool focuses on four parameters as they relate to project management. It first half addresses cost and schedule as major segments of variance analysis. They track improvement through a real time forecast of the project and its direction at any given time. It, therefore, functions as a useful tool to project managers for a clearly addresses the sense of direction required while painting an elaborate picture of possible complications which may be encountered and how to address them. The second half of the remaining parameters amalgamate schedule and cost variance. EVA is determined using the following elements.

  1. Planned Value (PV) – Planned amount during the current reporting period.
  2. Actual Cost (AC) – A project’s real cost.
  3. Earned Value (EV) – Total planned amount multiplied by the percentage of the project completed.

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Thus, cost variance (CV=EV-AC) and schedule variance (SV=EV-PV) play a significant role in project management since they help in determining whether a scheduled project is on track and within its budget (Reichel, 2018). Obtaining 0 using the aforementioned formulas is a good sign since it indicates the project is on time and within the projected budget. A negative value is indicative of a project which is lagging behind while a positive value reveals that a project is ahead of the projected schedule and below its budget.

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EVA is a useful tool which can be used to evaluate a project’s performance and how to address any of the concerns raised by stakeholders. It allows project managers to gain an in-depth understanding of the entire scheduling process after commencing with a monumental project. The planned and earned value are determined and completed to determine the efficacy of initial plans made when establishing the project. The SPI value determines whether work has been completed as scheduled. Similarly, the cost performance index (CPI) assesses the budget in relation to whether it is within the projected constraints

Examples of successful and troubled projects

Prior to implementing PMMM though its project management office (PMO), NYTCo had experienced a streak of unsuccessful projects based on its initial framework. They were then used to determine areas of concern which were then improved on which eventually resulted in success for the organization.

Troubled Project

NYTCo initially sought to improve operations within the company and the customer experience for all its clients. Using the preferred counter framework, the company sought to identify loyal clients who played a significant role in the company. However, it soon became apparent that the company was increasingly receiving negative reviews as a consequence of a haphazard project which failed to consider all issues impacting the organizations efficiency. Although planning was done correctly in the formative stages, the company was plagued by a breakdown in communication which stalled progress. This was further exacerbated by the fact that the project manager did not prepare company employees adequately for the project. As a consequence, the project was not supported fully, in addition to the absence of a singular methodology to address any of the concerns raised. This resulted in many of the activities being behind schedule, not meeting the budgetary allocation and failing to remain within its scope of practice.

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Successful Project

After a string of failures, the NYTCo learned from its initial mistakes in project management and began an elaborate improvement initiative to guarantee positive results in the future. The company sought to achieve this goal by focusing primarily on boundary-less operations to aid in the creation of the Publishing Business System (PBS). Deployment of this system was largely dependent upon project management in order to coordinate all IT projects within the corporation. The aim was to diversify its portfolio to not only rely on reactive news reporting but also adding secondary activities to ensure the company experienced predictable and quantifiable success.  It was through this process-oriented approach that executives within the company gain a deeper understanding of project management using a disciplined approach informed by a well-ordered approach. Success in the creation of PBS was largely due to the company’s adherence to many of the standard approaches which had initially been ignored when the company functioned as a single business unit.

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Conclusion

Project management maturity model has recently emerged as an important factor in determining success of with the overall organizational structure. Higher levels of maturity have been found to be a major determining factor for organizational success through scrupulous implementation of goals and objectives developed through strategic planning. Knowledge of project management tools and methods is also imperative if progress is to be realized by an organization. Thorough planning, execution, monitoring, and control using the earned value analysis (EVA) as the main management tool has been found to aid firms in realizing success through the five project management maturity model levels. Organizations can, thus, realize set objectives by implementing a structured approach which takes into account the importance of stakeholders and team members in project management.

Communication Audit – A Strategy to Improve Communication

Discuss a tool or strategy a leader can adopt for improving communication within the organization.

Communication refers to the information transmitting process and mutual understanding between two or more people. Communication is the exchange or creation of understanding, thoughts, emotions, and ideas between receivers and senders. It is highly important in maintaining and building relationships in the workplace. It is therefore important to enhance communication in an organization using an effective tool or strategy.

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One of the best strategies that a leader can employ to improve communication within an organization is communication audits. Communication audit involves the analysis and measurement of the organization’s communication system to develop a basis for diagnosing the communication practice quality. Communication auditing entails the evaluation of existing communication practices to establish the steps needed for improvement. The auditing will involve the adoption of a communication assessment tool that comprises five main components that include social contact, central leadership, information comprehensibility, timing and quality, influence created in any communication, and a barrier to communication improvement (Christensen, 1).

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The auditing strategy can result in the adoption of more advanced strategies that focus on resolving the identified deficiencies or problems in the existing communication system. For instance, in the identification of poor social contact between workers and leaders, the leader can consider adopting a communication system with more diverse communication channels that offer direct communication between workers and senior leaders without need to go through other intermediates. This can include using emails, internally integrated voice calls, open communication forums with leaders, and social media among others.

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Lack of workers’ social contacts can be resolved by developing organization professional network or workers discussion forums among other means. To address poor central leadership communication can result in the establishment of more physical or videoconference meetings between leaders, sharing private mobile phone numbers among leaders for free communication at any time among others. Communication auditing strategy acts as the first step into the integration of other new strategies and tools to enhance internal communication in an organization, as a way of enhancing the organization’s internal communication even further (Christensen, 1).

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Access System America Communication Strategy Analysis

The key objective of a communication strategy is to ensure that information inside and outside the organization is communicated effectively with the sole purpose of achieving the core organizational objective. Studies have showed that communication determines how business operations are carried out (Treweek, et al., 2013). The management uses the communication strategy to inform the employees the targets of the business and how it will be achieved within specified timelines. As a result, it is the duty and responsibility of the management to develop, adopt and implement communication strategy that works best for the organization. This paper analyzed communication strategy used by Access System America, Inc.  

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Summary of Access System America Communication Strategy

            According to Goetsch et al. (2014), Access Systems America, Inc. adopted communication scheme that engages all the shareholders because they have the obligation to meet the organizations’ objectives. This communication strategy enables the management to freely interact with all the shareholders and clients via online based systems (Kasper & Kellerman, 2014). Similarly, the shareholders and clients can access organizations’ website and post their concerns and issues affecting them. These include the suggestion on how the organization should address these concerns.

All the issues and concerns posted on the company’s website are seen by the management and those that can be acted upon immediately are addressed. The communication strategy is also designed to allow the sales team to directly interact with the clients on real time. In the process, the sales team gathers the information about the market and advice marketing manager accordingly (Goetsch & Davis, 2014). Typically, this communication strategy allows the flows information downwards and upwards with the sole purpose of achieving better business operations. This communication strategy has proved successful to the company due to significant growth in revenues recorded after adopting this strategy.

Analysis of communication strategy

            Analysis showed that various business units and departments within the company have greatly benefitted from the communication strategy. For example, the marketing and promotional department get first-hand information due to directly and real time interaction and engagement with the clients as well as shareholders (Treweek, et al., 2013). This helps the company to achieve its objectives of quality service to clients. This communication strategy does not give room for loss of information in the communication process which could result to communication breakdown within the system. It allows proper communication channels to be used to deliver and collect the intended message.

            As a result, the company has been able to serve its clients throughout the world effectively by delivering products and services that meets their needs. Further analysis showed that each department benefitted from this communication strategy differently. For instance, human resource department is able to monitor the performance of each employee (Goetsch & Davis, 2014). The production department monitors the progress of each production line in real time. The sale department has benefitted the most from this communication strategy because the sales volume has increased significantly. The overall growth could not have been achieved without this communication strategy. This communication strategy enables the management to get the right information about the current market and industry in general. In response to the needs of the customers, the management determines what to deliver to the customers and in what qualities. This makes the company to gain competitive advantage over its competitors and maintain its leadership position in the market.

            More importantly, this communication strategy allows for inclusivity when making critical decisions that affects the operations of the company. This means that any organizational change effected in the company will not receive much resistance because all the parties are involved in the process (Kasper & Kellerman, 2014). However, this communication strategy has required a lot time for the parties to consult before the decision is made. This is a common drawback associated with communication strategies that are very inclusive. Therefore, it is not unique to this communication strategy alone.