You had better care! Because what people think usually leads
to predictable behaviors that can really affect your business,
non-profit or association for better or worse.
Look at your employees. If they believe you really don't care
about them, your organization's productivity can take a nose
And what about customers? They had better remain convinced
of the value of your products and services or off they go to a
Even prospects constantly need to be made aware of your
product and service values or you'll never get them as
customers in the first place.
And seriously caring what key groups of people think about
your organization doesn't stop there.
You'll have trouble hiring and keeping employees if area
residents don't see your organization as a good place to work.
Same with minorities if, true or false, the idea takes hold that
you discriminate in your hiring practices.
And don't forget the need to be above board with journalists
covering your operation. A suspicious reporter can create what
you'll certainly view as "bad press."
While we've talked briefly about a half dozen of your key
"publics," there are certainly others that need your attention.
That's why the care and feeding of your most important
external audiences can easily turn into a full-time job when
you stop and think about the impacts they can have on how
successfully you achieve your objectives.
O.K., so you can't afford full-time public relations help, but
is it hopeless?
Not at all because there are several actions you can and should
take to address this challenge. It will require a chunk of time
to implement, but isn't it worth it?
First, list the top five or six audiences that could keep you
awake at night.
Clearly, the top priority is to stay aware of how they perceive
your enterprise. And that translates into speaking regularly
with members of each group ? members, customers, employees,
area residents, reporters, prospects ? and LISTENING for any
Of course, in your own best interests, you should be a regular
speaker at area podiums and a willing interviewee when local
or trade media want to ask you questions. By doing so, you
"ventilate" matters and lessen the impact of future "bumps in
the road" when they inevitably occur.
So, when problems ARE identified, corrective actions should
be put in place. And when it's time to take those actions, you
need a two-part strategy: one, a clear, truthful message written
to persuade that audience and, two, effective communications
that will actually reach that audience.
Communications tactics may range from media interviews,
open houses, facility tours and plain, old meetings to promotional
events and news releases.
It's important to track progress if you ever hope to know
whether your efforts are changing minds. Most important, do
you appear to have successfully addressed the problem areas
that came up in your initial information gathering among those
And that means more of the same ? personal meetings with
members, customers, prospects, employees, area residents,
reporters and other so-called "thought-leaders."
What people think is really key to the success of your
organization because, like it or not, people act on their
perception of the facts before them and that leads to certain
behaviors. Because something can be done about those
behaviors, this article outlines how you can address any
problem areas BEFORE they negatively affect your business.
Remember, if you leave those problems unattended for very
long, you may be trifling with your own survival. How much
better to deal promptly and effectively with questionable
perceptions and encourage behaviors that insure the success
of your business.
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. Net word count is 700
including guidelines and resource box. Robert A. Kelly ? 2003.
Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to business, non-profit and
association managers about using the fundamental premise of public
relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR,
Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR,
Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communi-
cations, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press
secretary, The White House. He holds a bachelor of science degree
from Columbia University, major in public relations.