Shift•ology Happy Meals

Defining Public Relations & Marketing through a Happy Meal

By Melanie Wilt, APR

“So, what exactly do you do?”

That’s a question we often encounter as marketing and public relations professionals. Explaining our roles can often feel like cracking a code. 

At Shift•ology, we use the science of communication to create meaningful connections that drive change and spark resonance among our clients’ key audiences and stakeholders.

“But seriously, tell me, what do you REALLY do?”

Alright, let’s unravel “what we do” using a simple, yet enlightening illustration — the iconic McDonald’s Happy Meal. 

No, we’re not clowning around (did that make you grimace?). Yes, we’re talking about that seemingly basic cardboard box with McNuggets, fries (or other options nowadays) and a toy. But it contains a lot more than that. A Happy Meal holds a memory, a rite of passage, a treat, an experience — carefully curated, not by chance.

The Happy Meal is a symphony of marketing, public relations and communication. It’s a masterpiece tailored to kids’ happiness and parents’ trust. It melds diverse elements to create an unforgettable experience. And, it’s a perfect example to help explain what we do at Shift•ology Communication. 

Let’s break it down: 

  • Marketing: The marketing team at McDonald’s is focused on creating desire and demand. They pinpoint the right price point, target the audience (kids and parents), and strategically position the Happy Meal as a treat that brings joy to young hearts. 
  • Public Relations: The PR team excels in developing deep understanding of its key audiences and forging long-term relationships. They cultivate emotional ties with parents and children that transform Saturday outings into treasured traditions. They position the benefits of the Happy Meal’s nutrition and food safety, which builds confidence and earns trust. 
  • Communication: Armed with insights from marketing and communication, we craft a data-driven strategy using the best facets of public relations and neuromarketing. The goal? To tell a story that captivates desires, influences opinions and kindles imaginations — a narrative that forges a connection between the audience and the brand that transcends consumption.

It’s important to understand that public relations, marketing and communication are not isolated silos; they are interconnected threads that form a powerful tapestry. 

So what do we do?

We meld public relations, marketing and communication to strengthen a brand’s voice, fuel engagement and deliver tangible outcomes for our clients. Our strategies, grounded in the science of communication, are meticulously tailored to connect with your audience’s emotional triggers, values and aspirations. 

For McDonalds, this combination looks like a Happy Meal. For Shift•ology, it oftentimes looks like an issue campaign, a magazine, a website, digital media targeting or a video series. No matter what it looks like upon completion, it is the result of a well-thought-out combination of marketing, communication and public relations designed to reach your audience, convince them of your value and progress towards your business goals. 

We are architects of resonance, creators of connections and agents of change for our clients. We’re your partners in creating a recipe for success — a Happy Meal of meaningful communication that leaves a lasting impact.

Melanie Wilt explains how marketing, PR and communication can be defined through a Happy Meal during a recent episode of Shift•ology’s “Shooting the Shift” podcast.