Hawaii is situated on an island and it is one of the constituent states of U.S. it is located on the western side of United States of America. Hawaiian residents have been historically known to attach more importance to the coral reefs. It has formed part and parcel of their life for a long period of time. According to Glazier and Peterson (2008), the coral reefs have provided the Hawaiian residents with a means of livelihood. Moreover, they have formed a deep culture and set of beliefs surrounding the reefs. Today, it is widely recognized that there exists close interdependence between the island lifestyle and the coral reef ecosystem. The living Reef program has operated under a logo called “A Living Reef Gives Our Islands Life”.
This program aims at impacting the public by creating increased awareness to the relative importance of the living coral reef ecosystem and its contribution to the Hawaii lifestyle (Coral Reef Outreach Network, 2005). This initiative began as a result of poor public awareness to conservation of nature as well as negative attitude. The move was informed by a research carried out in the island and funded by the Nature Conservancy in Hawaii which found out that there was a poor public attitude. The survey also observed that despite lack of societal awareness to the need of protecting the environment, they had noted with deep concern that the reefs were depleting. This comes amidst a background of threat of destruction through pollution and economic exploitation by the residents. Another goal of the program is to inculcate and encourage positive behavior amongst the residents of Hawaii (Rodgers & Cox, 2004). It also aims to encourage collaborative efforts geared towards conservation of the coral reefs. To achieve this goal, the program is working with various stakeholders who include the department of land and Natural resources, the division of Aquatic resources and non-governmental organizations (Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources & Hawaii Ecotourism Association, not dated).
Moreover, the main objective of Hawaii’s living Reef program is to enhance public awareness in a wholesale format of the significance of the coral reef in relation to the environment and people’s lifestyle in Hawaii. It is also aimed at launching teaching programs so as to teach the target audience on the need to forge positive behavioral pattern so that this valuable natural resource is taken care of. Besides, the program aims at harmonizing efforts from concerned environmental agencies especially dealing with coral reef outreach programs.
Objectives of the program
Increasing the level of awareness on the importance of conserving the coral reefs is the key objective of the Hawaii Living reef program. The target audience analysis aims at developing and improving the public level of awareness on the significance of the “coral reef ecosystem to the Hawaiian lifestyle” (Rodgers Cox EF, 2003). Through this awareness campaign, residents would be taught to uphold positive behavioral pattern. To achieve this, the program would require cooperation among all the lead agents as well as the corporate organizations that need to work as a team to achieve the conservation goals. Besides, government regulations on the coral reef conservation program are important at this stage. Increasing the level of public awareness in the conservation of the ecosystem is equally imperative. This would only be achieved by teaching the residents on the need to develop positive behavior and the right attitude in regard to conserving the coral reefs. The outreach imitative should be cooperation among all the corporate interested in the conservation of the coral reefs.
The Main Target Audiences
The main target audience to the Living Reef program has been the residents of the island. The promotional campaign is to be directed to the Hawaiian residents because they were the subject matter in this process. These are the major stakeholders in the reef conservancy program (Australia Adventures, 2009). The natural conservation program of the coral reefs has a strong commitment and belief that for any success to be realized the community members have to be incorporated and be made to feel part of the entire program. Similarly, any marketing efforts would record higher success when the residents are fully involved. This required the program initiators to inculcate the ownership of the program alongside the intended strategies. And as I mentioned earlier, the reef occupies a special place in the lives of the native residents.
In addition to the local residents, tourists were also found to be potential target group. Through the use of intensive and well-directed promotional campaigns, they could be reached in a much easier way. In order to achieve the first simple step, the organizers engaged in a branding campaign aimed at increasing the number of visitors to the island being an important source of foreign exchange. This foreign exchange would then be used to improve the livelihoods of the islanders as well as carrying out conservation programs to the coral reefs.
Another target audience is the business community. They are considered to be one of the major beneficiaries to the coral reef conservation program. Tourism activity would go towards benefiting business enterprises in terms of foreign exchange. A sizeable proportion of the business in Hawaii is directly and indirectly dependent on the proceeds from tourism (Rodgers and Cox, 2003). Thus, their input is crucial in the development of the tourist industry and also to sponsor efforts towards the conservation of the coral reefs. The state authorities, which are involved in formulation of policies and regulation, are also an important target group owing to the prime position they occupy in the society. It is through their support that the program has been able to achieve unprecedented levels of success. There are also a number of interest groups, which include environmental activists who were also targeted by the program. Their input for a long time has been very valuable in the running of the industry.
Policy makers also form inevitable target audience. In the formulation and implementation of programs that can help sustain the coral reefs, they play significant roles in generating workable solutions to the challenges facing conservation of coral reef. Besides, they have a duty of enhancing outreach and educational programs in order to help the locals appreciate the value of coral reefs (Brown et al., 2004). The most important strategy put in place by policy makers is education which is aimed at enlightening the locals of the importance of conservation. Policy makers also have the mandate of evaluating the performance criteria of each running program as part of follow up activities to meet the stated goals. In so doing, the cranking of these conservation programs can be rated as high, medium or low and thereafter necessary mitigation actions taken to either improve or re-organize the projects.
Last but not least under the target audience are those individual persons enthusiastic with the activities in the ocean. They include sports personalities and general lovers of the oceans. This audience can equally be of great significance in the conservation process of the coral reefs (Rodgers and Cox, 2004). These audiences need to be convinced on the need to conserving the coral reefs.
SWOT Analysis Summary
This analysis is going to focus on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats surrounding the coral reef protection and conservation program. In this regard, the evaluation is that a lot is at stake but more can be achieved with concerted effort from all stakeholders in the conservation process.
By leveraging on the strengths of the Hawaii’s living Reef Program, it will be possible to build on the principals of environmental conservation. This can be enhanced through the use of potential development partners who greatly value the need for conserving the reefs. A well-designed social marketing plan, which aims at reaching the target audience, can indeed be part of the strength mechanism for the Hawaii Living Reef program (Brown et al., 2004). This will not only enable the program to enhance fast and efficient marketing of the living Reef as a leading tourist attraction in the world but also create a sustainable solution. Eventually, leveraging of strength through building a viable capacity will lead to increased number of visitors and a significant drop in the destruction of the reef through pollution. In addition, it has enabled the organization achieve heavy support from environmental conservationists and other environmental conscious tourists across the world.
The coral reef outreach network alongside the Hawaii’s living reef program also has built strong network within the community and other key stakeholders in the industry which include Hotel owners associations, cruise ship operators, divers associations, government agencies and interest groups. This has facilitated efficient transfer of information among the key stakeholders. The collaboration has also helped built important synergies hence enabling quicker realization of the intended results. In the process the local community has also bought the ideas and hence facilitated ownership of the conservation initiatives, which has contributed to achievement of unprecedented levels of success. These determined efforts have definitely placed it ahead of its competitors.
One way of downplaying weakness is through cutting down the eminent operational costs, which are considered non-essentials. In spite of the likelihood of the program running on a minimal budget, a lot will be achieved with strategic marketing plan in place. Moreover, most non-technical tasks have been escalated to other stakeholders in the community who perform them on volunteer basis. Collaborative efforts with the media have also helped to lower the cost of tourism market promotion. In addition, the strong support of the government has served to create a favorable environment to build the tourism industry and also to promote the conservation campaign through its regulatory framework.
In addition, the beautiful scenery with a coastline made of sandy beaches and volcanic formations, which have drawn a lot of attention from tourists across the world (Anon, 2004). The unique marine life never found anywhere else in the world has become a huge strength for the program. As I mentioned earlier, 25% of the species on the shoreline are exclusive to the island.
Despite spirited attempts to market the country as the tourist destination of the choice, the country has not been able to effectively tap visitors from the emerging markets such as China, Russia, India and Brazil. In addition, visitors from Japan have been declining in the recent years posing a threat to the industry. The program has also not succeeded in curbing overexploitation of resources especially from the coral reef and fisheries hence dealing a cropper to the conservatory initiatives of the Coral Reef Outreach Network, which runs the program. Pollution of the coral reef has still continued despite of concerted efforts to reduce it. There still exists loose regulatory framework to govern protection of the environment. As a result it has become very hard to prevent depletion of the natural resources and pollution of the environment by the visitors and companies.
Massive opportunities still lie ahead in the largely untapped markets of South America and also the emerging markets often referred to as BRIC, which have been experiencing a rise in incomes. The Southern markets of Venezuela, Panama, Dominican Republic, and Colombia present an opportunity for Hawaii tourist industry to dig deeper into the markets and earn more revenues. The increasing relative stability and the rising incomes should be an incentive for Hawaii to intensify its market promotional initiatives in the region (Friedlander et al., 2003). The emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China likewise have presented a window of opportunity for stakeholders in the Hawaii tourist industry. More aggressive measures therefore ought to be taken to tap the potential of these markets. The collaborative effort between the network and the media is a good opportunity for Hawaii to market its tourist package more aggressively. The willingness of the natives to own the conservation strategies should also be a great opportunity for the program to mobilize the local resources towards sustainable tourism.
Despite the conservation initiatives undertaken, the island still continues being plagued by the problem of environmental pollution and overexploitation of natural resources. According to Jokiel Division of aquatic resources (n.d.), the problem of over exploitation of the fisheries and harvesting of the corals which are in high demand in USA is a threat to the future of the tourist attraction. The rising population in the island has continued to place immense pressure on the natural resources leading to the overexploitation (Jokiel et al. 2004). As a result the fish stocks have been declining for the last hundred years. The rise in the demand of coral jewelry and coral carvings has become a threat to the coral reefs whose harvesting has grown tremendously.
The island has also been invaded by alien species of plants and animals on its shore lines which posed a threat to the marine life. These have been predating and sometimes transmitting diseases and pests to the local species leading to reduction in their populations. The trend is threatening to bring the huge industry into its knees if not checked. Apart from these, human activity is also a big threat to the program due to the adverse effect it has on the marine environment. Agricultural activities lead to siltation and release of chemicals to the ocean which results to pollution of the ocean waters and death of some ocean life (Australia Adventures, 2009). There has also been rising release of sewage waste from cesspools and chemical waste from factories into the shores posing a huge threat to the marine life. Marine debris such as abandoned and discarded fishing gear also contributes to the death of the coral reef.
It is possible to develop a working plan which will not subject the conservation program into unlimited risks. By increasing competition from other coral reef beaches, a significant threat value will have been prevented, eliminated or even reduced. Indeed the greatest threat is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This has continued to attract tourists in drones hence posing a high threat of hiving a sizeable market share from the Hawaii islands. Others like the Islands of Guam are also increasing in prominence hence threatening the position of the Hawaii as a global tourist force (Jokiel et al 2003). The previous recession has had an adverse effect on the tourist arrivals. As a result many tourists have resulted in huge cuts in their expenditure hence leading to a reduction in tourism revenues. This has forced hotels and tour operators to scale down their output resulting to a reduction in incomes and employment.
The Strategic Plan Analysis
In carrying out a strategic plan for the Hawaii Living Reef Program, the principles of social marketing are significant. These fundamentals will not only work towards changing the attitude of the target audience but also improve on their welfare in regard to important messages they will get from the promotions. From the above analysis, it is important that the challenges that are likely to be encountered by the Hawaii Living Reef Program are adequately addressed. To begin with, the most important communication tool that can be utilized is a website. This would serve as a resource center. It would also assist in mobilizing of resources by disseminating valuable information to the stakeholders. It would also create linkages with supporting agencies hence helping to mobilize their support and coordination of activities. An award scheme can also be unveiled to recognize efforts in reef conservation. This would encourage more stakeholders to take a keener role in the conservation efforts which form part of the promotional campaigns.
Symposiums are equally viable tools that can be used to deliver important communication to the stakeholders. Through the media, integration of both visuals and messages to reach a larger audience is more effective. Joint collaborations with media companies have helped to deliver timely press releases on local, national, and international market. Stakeholders in all the federal states of the United States are sent opinion articles, and monthly emails to bolster their support on protection and management of the coral reef resources.
In order to gain relative support from the community and other notable target audiences, the operating symbol has to be approved alongside timeline and well harmonized communication system to be developed for the Hawaii Living Reef Program. To begin with, the program was developed in such a way that it would enhance awareness. In addition to this, there was need to practice conservation process which would ensure the success of the program. Individual persons and small organized groups were to be very instrumental in the spreading the news about conservation and protection of the coral reefs. There was also “the target side” which encompassed the touring organizations like hotels and fishing industry (Storlazzi et al. 2005). The fishing fraternity was mainly divided into two. There were those who aimed at venturing in the fishing activities for commercial purposes while others were just doing it for the purpose of relaxation in form of sport fishing. In addition, there were fishing clubs, those practicing fishing in aquariums, publishers dealing with information on fishing, competent fishermen and skilled workers and operators in water. Those enthusiastic to activities in the ocean like deep sea divers and snorkeling were also spotted as crucial audience.
Similarly, educators sent by the education department acted as informers of all the activities initiated by the program. The part played by self-owned schools could not be ignored at all. The main objective in the entire arrangement, which involved the numerous target audiences, was to produce a wider support base prior to engaging the public. By so doing, the idea of conserving the coral reefs and promoting positive attitude would achieve a major breakthrough.
Before the actual launch, there was need of gathering a cross section of community members as a show of unity and importance of the program. The effort had to be supported unanimously. In order to have a unilateral and a broad spectrum of support, there is needed to make the information have a positive outlook. Besides, the message should be encouraging to life and appealing to the mind (Rodgers & Cox, 2004). In other words, the message should be “inclusive rather than exclusive” (Friedlander et al., 2003). The presenters of this information should be more emphatic to the coming years rather than the past age. The lead agencies in the entire conservancy program should not be perceived as government oriented efforts. Their main role is to correlate the conservation ideas against the community efforts by brokering between the two. It harmonizes the support required from the grass root level. Those in this level include the aforementioned target groups like the business community and community members. The responsibility of the conservation agencies should not go beyond informing the residents their line of activities or order them to do this or that. The agencies are also not expected to give certain restrictions to people.
The worst that these agencies can do is to penalize those who are breaking the environmental conservation rules. This will not only lead to resentment towards the entire program, but also its final failure. It should restrict itself to the role of coordinating the program by making use of the community effort and willingness to lend a helping hand. They should surge towards seeking more support from the public, convincing the new target groups and work towards enhancing public participation in the program.
In order to reach this degree of community involvement, the efforts should be coordinated in a more professional manner. For instance, one-on-one meetings can be initiated alongside communal gatherings. These meetings should address pertinent issues in the Hawaii Living Reef Program (Brown et al., 2004).
These refer to different communication plans put in place to fit different target audiences. The media is the main campaign tool that can be used to facilitate the preparation of advertising materials. These can be in form of written materials or those used to air news in media houses. Since there is need to reach a bigger population, both the broadcast and print media can be used. In this case, the aired information can be properly budgeted for within the agency’s budget allocation. In some cases, the agency might not be able to cater for the financial needs and therefore it can engage other development partners to help it foot some of the budgetary requirements like those needed in advertisement and public announcement. Some sponsors can indeed help the agency produce the notices at reduced or subsidized rates. There are also media spaces which can be availed by some media houses. The agency should venture towards such opportunities. In using the media as a campaign tool, the following media channels can be used.
By launching a website especially when the program is kicking off, people will find it easier and comfortable to access information they need to know about Hawaii Living reef program. The site can be made user friendly with useful links.
Besides, there are sites which can be used more frequently like those visited by tourists. The Hawaii living reef program should enhance the use of such sites to increase publicity of the conservation process. This can be made more viable by availing the web site address to the target audience through print or broadcast media. Moreover, these websites need regular updating to facilitate “promotion of ongoing events and activities” (Australia Adventures, 2009).
The website will have several benefits. For example, children will enjoy and have fun on responsive games related to educative materials. In the same vein, grown-ups will have access to valuable interactive information related to their areas of interests like industries, general knowledge, scientific inventions, and coral reef development programs. To make the site more fascinating and engaging to its users, a page on “friends of the reef” can be incorporated giving details of program sponsors and at the same time awarding them the necessary recognition for the excellent work done. An invitation phrase for those target audiences who would like to support the program can be included as well in this page.
Strategies to use in changing the attitude
There are several strategies which can be used to change people’s attitude towards the reef conservation program. Each target group can be attended to separately with a different strategy. The following strategies can be instituted in an attempt to change the negative attitude and behavioral pattern of the audience.
In order to attract the attention of the target audience, the conservation program can be made livelier by developing a sub-program dealing with reef awareness in which participants are rewarded for their participation. This can be carried out across all age groups so as to attract a wider grass root support. In addition, the award ceremony can be crafted out to include lots of fan and entertainment. Appropriate award categories should be followed to avoid any possibility of lamentations and dissatisfaction after the ceremony (Glazier & Petterson, 2008). The award program can be carried out regularly especially after the end of each year. Individuals as well as corporate groups who have played some role in the reef conservation program should be rewarded accordingly. It is imperative to keep them in touch with the ongoing program and boost their morale too.
As a long-term vision and mission of the program, the award initiative should be a grand undertaking in which publicity through the media is important. This open publicity will work positively in the awareness program. The target audience to be awarded ought to range from individual community members to organizations.
Open interactive displays
The use of the media (whether print or broadcast) may not be sufficient in addressing the coral reef conservation program effectively. Other attractive fanfare activities need to accompany media campaign efforts (Coral Reef Outreach Network, 2005). Moreover, there are those target groups which cannot be reached easily by the media. As a result, open interactive public displays can be used to transmit information. This can be in form of “trade shows displays that could be used at public events, fairs, appropriate meetings, and empty storefronts” (Friedlander et al., 2003). There is a greater possibility of most Hawaiian residents not paying key attention to media news especially those concerning coral reef protection and conservation. By organizing public forums and rallies, most of them are more likely to change their attitude and scope of thinking towards the same. These open public fanfares should be highly interactive through such luring exercises as prize giving after short contests.
Besides, “tabletop displays should be created for dive, snorkeling, fishing, beach and book stores” (Glazier & Petterson, 2008). The public display date should be communicated well in advance to allow for thorough preparations. In this interactive program, some sponsoring partners can be sought to boost its success level. There is constant need to bear in mind that both corporate organizations and communities alongside individual business groups are very crucial in the eventual success of the conservation program. Therefore, none of the target audiences can be ignored in every single developmental stage of the initiative. Better participatory strategies should be entrenched from time to time as the program picks up from its feet and grows.
School going children
School children are considered to be very important target audience in the living reef conservation program. This is attributed to the fact that they are the key actors in the sustenance and viability of the future well being of the program. By imparting the necessary educational skills and competences in the school going age groups, the project is assured of sustainability (Anon, 2004). To begin with, program organizers can sponsor several education programs in schools related to coral reefs. Awards can be given during such educational displays. In order to capture the minds of the children, the displays should be made more interesting as science matters are incorporated. For instance, the program can make use of the opportunity created by the normal annual science congress for schools. Interactive and interrogative questions dealing with the conservation of the coral reef should surface more in the science contests. Another area of interest targeting the school children is through thorough “beach/reef cleanup day in coordination with the already successful existing “Get the Drift” program” (Anon, 2004).
In addition to this, entertainment packages suitable for children should go along way in making this audience change the bad attitude and embrace the conservation plan. It can be in form of a video movie running for a period of about half an hour. The videos can be made to be educational yet entertaining at the same time. Moreover, organizers need to ensure that they do not sail beyond the school curriculum. To avoid going off-track, the presentations should be done using curriculum materials provided by the education department.
Effect of recession
Recession, which has been coupled with economic slow down, is one of the factors that might work against the conservation program. For this reason, it is quite important to develop simple but effective working mechanisms. For instance, simple materials should be developed to be used in the awareness campaign. There is need for the information to be easy and simple to the target audience. The materials used should be durable to allow future reference sources. They can be made to last long by being made using waterproof materials. Tourist hotels should be equipped with video loaded with relevant information to the visitors.
Some of the messages that should be points of focus in the coral reef campaign strategies include the following:
- The lifestyle among the communities living in Hawaii relies on the coral reef.
- Human activities on the land affect the coral reef ecosystem.
- There are enough human and material resources to conserve the coral reefs
- Individual community members should take responsibility in the conservation program.
- The coral reefs are important to the island community
- The reefs are not dead but alive.
The above messages should be the basis of all campaign strategies as they relate to the conservation of the coral reef. Such information will also work towards changing the attitude of the Hawaiian residents. For example, by spreading the message that there are enough human and material resources that can be used to conserve the coral reefs, the target audience will be encouraged to engage in the conservation process without the feeling of being unable to do so.
The target audience analysis in this paper seeks to identify who are the critical target groups that need to be reached out in the conservation of coral reefs in Hawaii. The most notable groups identified so far are the business community, visitors, tourists, school going children, Hawaiian adults as well as ocean enthusiasts.
In reaching out these audiences, different types of communication media can be used. For instance, the role played by both the print and broadcast media is imperative. Launching a website to enhance communication flow as well as spirited public campaigns in form of rallies is recommended.
Hawaii is an island state which is part of the United States and is located West of America. The residents since time immemorial have attached great importance to the coral reefs. These have provided them with a vital source of livelihood for many centuries. They even have a deeply entrenched culture revolving around the coral reefs as a result. The most important tourist package in Hawaii is the spectacular scenery which dominates the island. The island is also made of a ring of islands with beautiful volcanic formation which have gained prominence as a popular tourist destination. This is enhanced by beautiful sandy beaches and millions of marine life. The waters of the island are home to unique collection of reef animals of which 25% do not live anywhere else in the world. The Islands marine industry is big and is growing at a very fast rate. Its full potential is still largely untapped as evident by the limited number of tourism attraction sites. The tourism venture is thus very viable given support and relevant input in terms of the right market strategies. The major strength of Hawaii’s living Reef Program is its ability to integrate environment conservation and protection initiatives with market promotion strategies within its organizational framework. In addition, it has enabled the organization achieve immense support from interest groups and other environmental conscious tourists across the world.
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