Since the documentary “Blackfish” aired earlier this year Seaworld Inc. has faced a public perception nightmare as its market shares and park attendance has declined to record lows. At this point Seaworld Inc. may be at the point of no return with its current business model and the only saving grace may be to re-brand entirely in order to remain open. Immediately following the airing of the documentary, Seaworld Inc. went on the defensive about its conservation efforts and how their work benefits aquatic wildlife as a whole.
Despite this effort, which is fairly noticeable once you visit the company webpage and social media outlets, Seaworld Inc. is still in financial disdain. Listed below are my ideas as to how Seaworld can pull away from the current negative image and win back the general public. Social Media- Currently Seaworld Inc. is using social media to report the conservation efforts over the last 40 years. This is being met with nothing but resistance and public outrage. Seaworld may have to go the route of “less is more” and post less to counter all the openly negative comments being osted on both their facebook and twitter accounts.
At the very least there should be someone actively on both accounts all day deleting all negative comments immediately. When posts are made on social media it should solely on park promotions and park activities. Website- Upon visiting the site you will notice all the pictures and links to Seaworld’s Inc. conservation efforts. This is great but to those that have seen the documentary which is recorded evidence of the mistreatment of the animals this is counter productive and comes off as a lie to an extent. Yes, Seaworld Inc. oes do its fair share to help wildlife but at the same time the recorded proof of the treatment of the animals at the parks is what people will remember. I would do away with the vast amount of conservation reporting and show more of what each park has to offer. By showing the waterpark and rides as well as the shows at the park Seaworld Inc. is pulling potential park visitors away from the negative publicity. Search- upon searching for Seaworld on the internet you will notice over half of the searches first page is paid for links by Seaworld Inc. owcasing its conservation efforts and links to each parks webpage. Once you get to the bottom Of the search page you will find negative articles about Seaworlds reported mistreatment of its animals. To combat the negative sentiment, Seaworld Inc. must dominate the first page of Google in regards to brand related search queries. This can be done by paid searches. Ad extensions are available on Google that will increase the depth of the brand listing such as location, call, offer, sitelink, product, social, dynamic search and app extensions.
All will flood the first page of Google and provide the average web searcher all of the information needed to explore company content and avoid the negative propaganda. Events/Partnerships- Seaworld Inc. must be aggressive with its public outreach and go beyond posting its conservation efforts on its webpage. I would recommend Seaworld organize a team to travel to major public events as well as schools to spread their conservation message directly with the public. At each event prizes and coupons to the park should be given away.
The active approach will help win back the public and shed the negative public opinion. Outbound Marketing- If Seaworld Inc. can withstand the current storm, profits should increase over time. The best way to go about this is to step away from being on the defensive and go about doing what made this theme park so popular in the first place and that is showcasing what made the park so great. Design the website around the parks attributes and flood social media with current park promotions. Sell the general public on the “fun” that ill be experienced at this park.
Reach the public by way of television commercials highlighting the rides and waterpark at the park. Prices through out the park should be reduced as an added incentive to bring people back. Promotions for discounts and “buy one get one free” tickets should be widespread to reach its target market and to get people back at the park. Seaworld Inc. may have to lose some money upfront to win back the public but by getting people back into the park it will begin to fade the negative image and reverse its downward spiral.