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Al Jazeera relationship marketing

Company Overview

Al Jazeera is a business news corporation that is headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Since its establishment in 1996, the company has become a major news broadcast presentation in the Middle East and the world at large, which include many channels and various bureaus around the globe. Al Jazeera began its activities during a time when there were very few non-state run news broadcasts in Middle East. During that time, cable options in Middle East were limited to CNN and BBC World Service; however, the two broadcast houses were having trouble operating in Middle East due to state censorship. It was a good time for Al Jazeera to fill the existing gaps in both regional and international news that is free from government influences’ and propaganda especially from countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. News channel Al Jazeera in 2011 were legally restructured to become Al Jazeera Media Network . The move was reportedly intended to give the news broadcaster more flexibility and to guarantee a faster decision-making process. It played a key role in shaping the future of the Al-Jazeera newswires as a global media outlet (Forester, 2011).

 

PART A:

Critically analyse the external stakeholder relationships affecting your chosen organisation

What do these external stakeholder relationships help the organisation to achieve?

Stakeholders can be defined as the various individuals or organizations that are actively engaged with the organizational project or program processes or those whose interests are either negatively or positively affected upon execution or completion of the projects of the company (Illia, &Lurati, 2006).External stakeholders to Al-Jazeera include all stakeholders who affect the operation and existence of the organization in one way or another but who influence from outside the organization. In effect, these include stakeholders such as program sponsors who include those who advertise and those who directly sponsor specific programs from the channel. They also include legal framework or government, environment and bandwidth controllers.

External stakeholders also include the local community in which the organisation operates or exists. Corporate executives constantly face ethical dilemmas such as lay off of thousands of employees and even carrying out activities that introduce great amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere or environment (Tyler 2005). For an organization such as Al-Jazeera, radio wave pollution would be an important area of concern. These decisions can be little easier to make when the corporate body has a solid code of practice, which might directly or indirectly deal with such dilemmas and provide a way or formula of addressing them.

Similarly, external stakeholders include suppliers, consumers, the lobby groups, the media, unions, regulators and competitors. The rest of the others (who are basically also external to the organization) are the other stakeholders who have no direct interest in the Al-Jazeera’s operations and existence or execution and completionof its projects (Maylor 2010).

Strategies Aljazeera have in place to build and manage these relationships?

Through Communication Strategy: One vital tool for improving stakeholder relationships for Al-Jazeera is communication strategy. The method adopted for communicating with the stakeholders depends mainly on the requirements of the stakeholders and the projects the company is involved with and can range from phone calls, communicating through public forums, through interviews, via workshops where communication is through issues, and requirements among other ways (Meredith et al 2008).

Communication may also be achieved through focus groups, and project chartering sessions. Public forums are essential for Al-Jazeera where the organization’s main consumers are the public or the public have key interest and high power in the operations of the organization and therefore either need awareness or they need to be provided with progress reports and knowledge of the operations. Since the television bandwidth that Al-Jazeera uses in its main operations may create pollution to the public if it creates interference, the public can be represented by external stakeholders such as communication commissions or regulators as appropriate.In this case, the public is not just a consumer of news resulting from the existence and operations of the company but is the provider of the charter with which Al-Jazeera exists.

Phone calls can also be used in creating and smoothing the external stakeholder relationships and are best for projects or issues which do not have extensively technical details that have to be communicated or where the stakeholders have full information about the project and communication is only meant for minor or intermittent issues. Interviews are essential where the operations or project demand for stakeholder feedback. Focus groups can be used for projects that have a certain group of stakeholders that comprises a lot of people and their interests are homogeneous.

Through Stakeholder Prioritization Strategy: However, before the communication strategy can be used, all the external stakeholders must be established and prioritized according to their interest to the organization and how the operations of the organization affect them. According to Scott and Lane (2000), in order to establish all the stakeholders to an organization’s projects or operations, the process should involve a systematic process that starts with identification of all stakeholders involved followed by identification of their interests and this may either be direct interests or indirect interests. After identification of the stakeholders’ interests, the next process is to identify the judgment criteria of the stakeholders and then identify which ones are needs and which ones are wants. Any potential conflicts must then be identified and resolved or ways of resolving such conflicts aptly identified (Fletcher et al 2003). The next step is to evaluate the impact each stakeholder, their respective interests and the conflicts identified have on the execution and completion of the company’s projects and programs.

According to Savage et al (1991), in the process of identifying the stakeholder interest, those stakeholders with low interest but high power in the operations need to be kept sufficiently involved in the project or program execution because they are moderately priority group to the project. They need to be kept satisfied that the programs are being executed or ran as expected and that all aspects are under control (Maylor 2010). Stakeholders with high level interest and high power have the highest priority in the project and they need to be managed closely through active stakeholder engagement.

Still on the issue of stakeholder power with little interest show the lowest priority for the company’s programs and therefore they don’t need to be overloaded with communication. The program manager in Al-Jazeera can monitor them with minimum effort. There are those with low power in the running of programs or operations and existence of the company but still have very high interest in it. This group should be a moderately priority group for Al-Jazeera and therefore the company’s manager’s objective is to keep their interest going and weight them when it is deemed they are useful to the operations and programs (Illia&Lurati, 2006). Lastly, there is need to identify what each stakeholder can do for the programs. This means that each stakeholder’s contribution to the programs has to be assessed and determine which stakeholder has a greater and key contribution to the projects execution and completion.

The above framework of stakeholder relationship is best explained using the six market relationship framework provided below. From the diagram, just as explained above, the main aim is to identify the various vital stakeholders and boost the relationship existing between the stakeholders and Al-Jazeera and its products.The diagram of six market mode shows the main six key domains in the market sphere  that are strategically important. This model will allow the managers of Al-Jazeera to perform a diagnostic analysis of the main market domains and the important stakeholders.

Figure 1: Six Market Relationship Framework (Source Payne, Ballantyne and Martin, 2005)

Challenges Aljazeera faces in building and managing these relationships

The greatest challenge to stakeholder relationships is related to stakeholder pressure due to conflicting interests of stakeholders. One of the ways and strategies to deal with multiple stakeholder pressures is through deployment of leadership skills that not only bring out the manager’s ability to employ unique strategies in a complex and demanding situation but also provide direction that is well defined, clear, exhibiting acceptance for diversity and aligning the various capabilities and motivation of individuals within the stakeholder subset to act effectively throughout the organisation (Meyer & Kirby 2010). There are two conflicting theories that can offer a point of consultation for managers to handle stakeholder pressures. Despite the diverse perspectives taken by the two leadership approaches to conflicting stakeholder interests and pressures, the success of the manager in dealing with these pressures lies in coming up with balancing mechanisms to ensure that each stakeholder is catered for in a balanced fashion. Another factor that can increase the manager’s ability in dealing with such pressures lies in the ability to dynamically come up with different leadership skills based on the underlying circumstances. Under the agency theory, stakeholders are understood as pursuing an economically-motivated objective that aims to maximise self-interests. In this perspective, managers need to devise control mechanisms that include proper financial rewards, reasonable share bonus schemes and other mechanisms. Managers can also come up with relationship-based collaboration to balance the pressures of stakeholders as underpinned in the stewardship theory (Hernandez, 2012).

The Extent and Value of the Linkages and Stakeholder Interdependencies

The various stakeholders and their interdependencies help Al-Jazeera achieve diverse objectives. For the legal framework or the government, it ensures compliance with laid down legal framework that relate to broadcasting and all related aspects. Therefore, complying with legislation impacts positively on the ethical behaviour of the company. Compliance with prevailing legal obligations creates good precedence for the organisation’s culture and its heritage by ensuring that any activity engaged in by any individual on behalf of the organisation is one that complies with laid down legal framework and ethical codes of conduct. In addition, compliance with legal obligations ensures that the organisation’s culture, expected mode of behaviour, and ethical code of practice embody the compliance with respective legislation by clearly spelling it out within the code of practice.

There are other external stakeholders that help in keeping the company in check. For instance, lobby groups and organisations that control what is aired ensure that only ethically or morally acceptable content is passed to the consumers.

Disadvantages to building / maintaining relationships with external stakeholders

It has been shown that building relationship with external stakeholders creates a competitive advantage among other advantages (Meyer & Kirby 2010). However, the down side of this is that maintaining these relationships with external customers can as well result in added costs to the company. For example, Al-Jazeera has to engage in corporate social responsibilities activities as a way of maintaining good relationship with the local communities. However, this means spending company resources to sponsor or fund these projects, which may affect the bottom line. In addition, adhering to government regulations or local authorities on some issues like reducing carbon foot print will mean additional costs in putting up efficient system to achieve this regulation, and as such increases the costs of operations to the company. Accordingly, this shows that maintaining relationships with external stakeholders comes with a cost.

Relationship marketing using Relational Exchanges Theory Framework

To understand the relationship marketing, an organization needs to differentiate between distinct transaction and relational   exchange that traces past agreement and rethink the on-going process. The figure below provides a diagrammatic illustration of the commitment theory framework, which can be applied to Al-Jazeera.

Figure 2: Relational Exchanges Theory Framework

Using the concept of commitment framework, Al-Jazeera can achieve relationship marketing objective by looking at the four major areas provided above and ensuring that they are effectively handled. For supplier partnerships, Al-Jazeera must ensure that suppliers of goods and services act as part of relationship marketing by embracing good business code of practice. Buyer partnerships should also be enhanced by strengthening the relationship between the company and intermediate customers as well as ultimate customers. Then there are internal partnerships that have to be strengthened and this looks at aspects such as employee relations, business units and other organizational departments. Lateral partnerships that Al-Jazeera has to be committed to include government, competitors and not-for-profit organizations.

Another framework that can be used to evaluate Al-Jazeera’s relationship marketing is the 30R Framework by Gummesson. It can be explained as indicated below.

Classic market relationships

1.Supplier and customer

2.The customer – supplier – competitor triangle

  1. Network – distribution channels

Special market relationships

4.Full-time marketers and part-time marketers

5.Customer and service provider

6.Many-headed customer and many-headed supplier

7.Relationship to the customer’s customer

  1. Close versus distant relationship
  2. Dissatisfied customer
  3. Monopoly relationship: customer or supplier as prisoner
  4. Customer as “member”

12.Electronic relationship

13.Para-social relationships, with symbols and objects

14.Noncommercial relationship

15.The green relationship

16.The law-based relationship

  1. The criminal network

Mega relationships

  1. Personal and social networks
  2. Mega marketing – the real “customer” is not always found in the marketplace
  3. Alliances change the market mechanism
  4. The knowledge relationship
  5. Mega alliances change the basic conditions for marketing
  6. Mass media relationship

Nano relationships

  1. Market mechanisms are brought inside the company
  2. Internal customer relationships
  3. Quality providing a relationship between operations management and marketing
  4. Internal marketing – relationships with the employee market
  5. Two-dimensional matrix relationship
  6. Relationship to external providers of marketing services
  7. Owner and financier relationship

Al-Jazeera has applied all most of these 30 Relationships in creating a strong and productive relationship with its employees, suppliers and other stakeholders. For example, it has good customer relationships and this explains its rapid growth in terms of audience. In addition, it has established good relationship with its part-timers marketing, who have successfully marketed the Al-Jazeera.

Part B:

Examine the ORG internal marketing strategies .what do the internal relationship help the organisation to achieve ?are there any areas for improvement?

 

For internal relationships affecting Al-Jazeera, two main frameworks can be used to bring out a clear picture. The first framework is through the use of part time marketers(PTM), which can be illustrated using the diagram below.

Figure 3:  PTM Concept Framework ( Source Gummesson, 1991)

The figure above shows the theories and concepts that contribute to the emergence of Part Time Marketing concept. The PTMs undertake marketing activities, however, unlike the full-timer marketers, the PTMs are not employed in the sales or marketing department.

According to Gummesson (1991), all individuals within Al-Jazeera that influence customer relations or customer satisfaction or customer perception on quality and implicitly the revenue of the company are the part-time marketers or PTMs. Such individuals are not employed within the marketing or sales department of the organization, yet they are instrumental in impacting customer relations and customer satisfaction among other aspects.

Therefore using the above framework with application to Al-Jazeera, it is imperative that each of the company’s employees exercises influence on customer relations by taking up the role of the organization’s top most marketer or sales personnel. That role can be taken directly or indirectly. The employees in doing this can interact with customers and pass appropriate information to the public about the company. This will not just inform the public but it will also influence customer relations (Gummesson, 1991). The news presenter might not be aware of the roles they play in marketing the organization and its products. For this reason, it is imperative that all employees are told their marketing role.Proper dressing is always one way news anchors attract followers and fans, yet by just dressing appropriately they are also influencing influence customer relations, customer satisfaction, and customer perception on quality and implicitly they end up influencing revenue of the company as the company’s part-time marketers.

Service profit chain (Source: Heskett et al, 1994)

Another internal strategy for internal marketing is through corporate culture that can be explained through the Service Profit Chain proposed by Heskett et al (1994). Through corporate culture of the company, which is seen by the values, beliefs and aspects shared among the internal stakeholders including the employees of the company, the company’s values are also projected to the external environment. This is also a marketing strategy that indirectly influences customer perception of quality, customer satisfaction and consumer loyalty (Heskett et al, 1994). Corporate culture of Al-Jazeera affects how the company strategizes its brand positioning through aspects such manner and quality of customer service delivery. The results indicate that the company puts emphasis on quality service delivery as a way to put across a strong brand image to the market. The prevailing culture in the market is also an aspect that affects the brand positioning strategy for the company.

Corporate culture of Al-Jazeera through the concept of shared values and beliefs and goals has a profound effect on cross-functional teams. In essence, it helps in aligning all the members of the cross functional teams toward similar goals and objectives. They can thus be brand ambassadors of the company through those shared values. The greatest challenge to achieving an environment where the employees are positive brand ambassadors is employee dissatisfaction.

Employee job satisfaction still remains a very important strategy in the facet of organizational behaviorat Al-Jazeera.The company has a highly motivated team of reporters and other media staff that have continued to perform well. This performance can be seen in the financial performance of Al-Jezeera that has remained positive over the years.

What can be improved?

Al-Jazeera can seek to continuously improve  satisfaction of employees because  satisfied employees have  improved to be  more productive and motivated in performing their work.  Indeed, highly satisfied employees will be highly connected that  with their jobs (Moulds et al 2009). Well satisfied employees have positive attitudes towards their jobs and makes psychologically healthy organizational community. From this, it can be seen how this can easily translate to influencing what marketing role the employees play.Biazi(2007) divided factors that  impact or influence employee level of satisfaction into two groups. These are organizational determinants factors  and individual determinants factors. As such,   organizational determinants factors are  type of work, the working conditions of employees and leadership/management approach. Therefore, it is important that Al-Jazeera to provide a good working environment that will be response to employee needs.  Likewise, individual determinants factors include gender of the employee, age, experience, position at the job and even marital status.At this end, Al-Jazeera has to be concerned with the individual welfare of its employees, and this can be done through coaching and counselling.

 

References

Biazi M., (2007) Employee Empowerment Study; RoyalRoadsUniversity

Burke, R. M. (2003) Project Management: Planning and Control Techniques (4th Edition) John Wiley & Sons

Fletcher, A., Guthrie, J., Steane, P., Roos, G., & Pike, S. (2003). Mapping stakeholder perceptions for a third sector organization.Journal OfIntellectual Capital, 4(4), 505-527. doi:10.1108/14691930310504536

Frame, J. Davidson, (2003) Managing Projects in Organizations: How to Make the Best Use of Time, Techniques, and People, 3rd edition, Jossey-Bass, ISBN 0-787-96831-5

Gummesson, E. (1991),”Marketing-orientation Revisited: The Crucial Role of the Part-time Marketer”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 25Iss 2 pp. 60 – 75

Hernandez, M. (2012).Toward An Understanding of the Psychology of Stewardship.Academy of Management Review 37 (2), p172–193

Heskett, J. L., Jones, T. O., Loveman, G. W., Sasser, W. E., & Schlesinger, L. A. (1994) Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work: when service companies put employees and customers first, a radical shift occurs in the way they manage and measure success. HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW March – April 1994

Illia, L., &Lurati, F. (2006). Stakeholder Perspectives on Organizational Identity: Searching for a Relationship Approach. Corporate Reputation Review, 8(4), 293-304. doi:10.1057/palgrave.crr.1540256

Mantel, J. S., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M. & Sutton, M. M. (2011) Project Management in Practice; 4th Edition. John Wiley & Sons

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