Sharkey’s Machine


The 3 P’s of The North Face’s PR Strategy

In the 1984 book “Managing Public Relations” James Grunig and Todd Hunt outlined the four academic models of public relations. With the shift in technology mediums over the past few decades, many organizations that operate within the general public execute a version of the Two-way Symmetric Model of PR. The major concept of the Two-Way Symmetric Model is that there is reciprocity in the exchange of information between the producer and the consumer that facilitates mutual achievement of goals. The North Face is no different than any other modern organization as it creates two-way communication avenues in its PR functions that benefit its customers and its bottom line. The North Face has open dialogue with its customer base in three ways:

 

People:

The North Face sponsors over 50 athletes on alpine climbing, rock climbing, skiing and snowboarding, and endurance running teams. These athletes serve a crucial role in TNF PR platform in two ways. The athletes serve as somewhat of a “stable of guinea pigs;” they can test and rate gear and report back to R&D with suggestions and critiques. In essence The North Face has a focus group that at will it can dialogue with to improve its products.

 

The athletes also serve as sounding board to other customers. The athletes serve as ambassadors of The North Face. Whenever the athletes are on the trail they are always open to suggestions from other outdoor enthusiasts; also, they can demonstrate and explain the benefits of TNF gear. This engagement between corporate athletes and the general public is carried off the trail into retail locations during product demos special events.  

 

Partners:

The North Face has three categories of partners: corporate, technology, and philanthropic. Corporate partners, like the Alpine Club of Canada; the Island Lake Lodge; and the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, provide close committed relationships with organizations that allow constant detailed feedback on the products and services of TNF.  Technology partnerships with companies like DuPont, Gore-Tex, and Boa allow The North Face to produce innovative products for its consumers. Partnerships with cutting-edge technology companies allows TNF to incorporate advancements in other industries (e.g. automobile racing, aeronautics, textiles) into solutions for its products and consumers. The philanthropic partnerships, with Global Giving; Leave No Trace; and The Conservation Alliance, promote corporate goodwill and community involvement and encourage dialogue between management and the public.  

 

Presence on the Web:       

As I previously outlined in my blog post Article Review on How Social Media is Changing, the ubiquity of communication technology is changing the way PR is practiced today. The advent of the internet, blogs, wi-fi, mobile devices, networking applications, and the list goes on changes how consumers communicate with corporate America. These new forms of communication mediums allow for a more immediate effective interchange between a corporation and its publics. The North Face has taken advantage of the evolution of communication. The North Face has a community webpage separate from its retail homepage that allows people to read and comment on athletes’ blogs, have general discussion on topics like endurance sports, and preview and discuss the release of upcoming gear. The North Face has also established a presence in social media. From TNF’s homepage there is a link to its Facebook Fan page. The over 19,000 fans can post comments, link to TNF blogs, upload their own videos, and connect with other members who have common interest. Web applications like blogs and Facebook allow TNF management to keep a thumb on the pulse of its brand.

 

 

References:

McClintock, M. (2008).VF Corporation at Lehman Brothers Annual Retail Conference – Final. Fair Disclosure Wire (Quarterly Earnings Reports). Conference transcription, Accessed online November 25,2008, from EBSCOhost database Georgia Southern University.

The North Face, (2008). Get Inspired. Go Explore. . Retrieved December 3, 2008, from The North Face Community Web site: http://tnf.typepad.com/community/

 The North Face, (2008). Never Stop Exploring . Retrieved October 26, 2008, from The North Face Web site: http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/index.html

The North Face, (2008). The North Face Fan Page. Retrieved November 10, 2008, from Facebook Web site: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-North-Face/6550003123

 

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