Please feel free to publish this article and resource box
in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website.
A copy would be appreciated at bobkelly@TNI.net.
Word count is 1170 including guidelines and resource box.
Robert A. Kelly 2004.
Attention PR Shoppers!
As a business, non-profit or association manager, what
do you want?
Publicity that delivers newspaper and talk show mentions,
or behavior change among your key outside audiences
that leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives?
Special events that attract a lot of people, or public relations
that persuades your most important outside audiences to
your way of thinking, then moves them to take actions that
help your department, division or subsidiary succeed?
Zippy brochures and videos, or a way for you to do
something positive about the behaviors of those external
audiences of yours that MOST affect your organization?
As a manager, what I believe you need to know about PR
are two realities:
1) The right PR really CAN alter individual perception and
lead to changed behaviors that help you succeed, and 2
your public relations effort must involve more than special
events, brochures and news releases if you really want to
get your moneys worth,
The underlying truth about PR goes this way: people act
on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads
to predictable behaviors about which something can be done.
When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching,
persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people
whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public
relations mission is accomplished.
And it can generate results like; prospects starting to work
with you; customers making repeat purchases; stronger
relationships with the educational, labor, financial and
healthcare communities; improved relations with
government agencies and legislative bodies, and even
capital givers or specifying sources looking your way
Once the program gets rolling, you also should see results
such as new proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures;
rebounds in showroom visits; membership applications on the rise;
community service and sponsorship opportunities; enhanced
activist group relations, and expanded feedback channels,
not to mention new thoughtleader and special event contacts.
Thats a lot of results from even a high-impact blueprint.
It almost goes without saying that your PR crew agency
or staff must be committed to you, as the senior project
manager, to the PR blueprint and its implementation,
starting with target audience perception monitoring.
Is it crucially important that your most important outside
audiences really perceive your operations, products or
services in a positive light? Of course, so assure yourself
that your PR staff has bought into the whole effort. Be
especially careful that they accept the reality that perceptions
almost always lead to behaviors that can help or hurt your
Sit down with your PR team and review the PR blueprint
in detail, especially the plan for monitoring and gathering
perceptions by questioning members of your most
important outside audiences. Questions like these: how
much do you know about our organization? How much
do you know about our services or products and
employees? Have you had prior contact with us and
were you pleased with the interchange? Have you
experienced problems with our people or procedures?
Professional survey people obviously can handle the
perception monitoring phases of your program, IF the
budget is available. But always remember that your PR
people are also in the perception and behavior
business and can pursue the same objective: identify
untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors,
inaccuracies, misconceptions and any other negative
perception that might translate into hurtful behaviors.
What about your public relations goal? You need a goal
statement that speaks to the aberrations that showed up
during your key audience perception monitoring. And
it could call for straightening out that dangerous
misconception, or correcting that gross inaccuracy, or
doing something about that damaging rumor.
When you set a goal, you need a strategy that shows you
how to get there. You have three strategic choices when
it comes to handling a perception or opinion challenge:
create perception where there may be none, change the
perception, or reinforce it. A bad strategy pick will taste
like marinara sauce on your brownies, so be certain the
new strategy fits well with your new public relations goal.
For example, you dont want to select change when the
facts dictate a reinforce strategy.
Because persuading an audience to your way of thinking
is awfully hard work, your PR team must come up with
just the right, corrective language. Words that are
compelling, persuasive and believable AND clear and
factual. You must do this if you are to correct a perception
by shifting opinion towards your point of view, leading to
the desired behaviors.
Sit down again with your communications specialists and
review your message for impact and persuasiveness. Then,
select the communications tactics most likely to carry your
words to the attention of your target audience. You can pick
from dozens that are available. From speeches, facility tours,
emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews,
newsletters, personal meetings and many others. But be sure
that the tactics you pick are known to reach folks just like
your audience members.
Youve heard the old bromide about the credibility of a
message depending on its delivery method. On the chance
its true, you might think about introducing it to smaller
gatherings rather than using higher-profile tactics such
as news releases or talk show appearances.
The need to produce a progress report will sound the
alert for you and your PR folks to return to the field for a
second perception monitoring session with members of
your external audience. Using many of the same questions
used in the first benchmark session, youll now be watching
very carefully for signs that the bad news perception is
being altered in your direction.
If impatience enters the fray, you can always accelerate things
with more communications tactics and increased frequencies.
Finally, like a military unit, your public relations effort can
use an action-oriented motto: the right PR really CAN alter
individual perception and lead directly to changed behaviors
that help you succeed.