Managers, please take a minute and read two sentences:
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.
Properly executed, this comprehensive blueprint will
help you persuade your key external stakeholders to your
way of thinking, then move them to take actions that lead
to your unit's success.
And, as you move the emphasis of the public relations
crew assigned to your operation from communications
tactics to the model outlined above, YOU move ever
closer to personal success as a unit manager.
Here's why. The blueprint demands of you a sharper focus
on the very groups of outside people who play a major role
in just how successful a manager you will be - your key
Like most managerial initiatives you implement, your new
public relations blueprint also will require aggressive
But, how do we KNOW the blueprint works? In three ways:
1) Goal achievement
2) Follow the big boys
3) Problem-solving muscle
Goal achievement -- Because the blueprint requires that
a public relations goal be established, the first way we
know the blueprint works is when you achieve that goal.
That's just pure success when you end up nailing the
objective you planned for up front.
Follow the big boys -- watch the performance of big
business, non-profit and association operators. Over time,
large organizations become aware of those outside
audiences whose behaviors affect it the most because
those stakeholder behaviors can and do cause pain. In
due course, a list of these "publics" is created of special
interest to the public relations department and its agencies.
Because some behaviors hurt more than others, the big boys
often assign key stakeholder audience rankings. This prioritizes
them as to impact, highlighting which target audiences require
special attention and a hefty chunk of the public relations
Unlike smaller entities, big organizations benefit from extensive
early-warning networks in the form of field representatives,
suppliers, customers of all sizes, various vendors, local, regional
and national print and broadcast media who cover their activities,
university contacts, retirees, sales representatives and residents
of towns where its facilities operate.
Such networks provide much of the perception monitoring
needed to discover and track how the organization's key target
audiences perceive it. In many cases, larger organizations retain
professional survey counsel to gather these data, while others
utilize staff public relations expertise in perception and
Many larger organizations waste little time applying corrective
action to serious perception problems because they know how
they can morph into troublesome behaviors. The public
relations goal usually reflects the most negative perceptions
discovered either during the opinion monitoring phase or from
input gleaned from members of the organization's diverse
network. For example, a new goal such as clarifying a dangerous
misconception, correcting an unfortunate inaccuracy or spiking
a potentially hurtful rumor.
Time-honored strategies are applied to achieve the new PR
goal - change existing perception, create perception where there
isn't any, or reinforce it. And this is followed by preparation of
a persuasive, compelling and believable message designed to
alter perception of that key target audience in the organization's
Big operators tend to be strongest (and financially able) in
marshalling a variety of high-impact communications tactics
to carry the corrective message to the eyes and ears of members
of the key target audience. Everything from emails, media
interviews and newsletters to speeches, brochures, consumer
meetings and facility tours.
Finally, leaving little to chance, many large organizations go
back to the field to measure perception change among members
of their key target audience in order to track how their public
relations activity has actually moved perception of that key
target audience in the desired direction.
In this way, the success of a large organization PR effort
easily can be gauged.
3) Problem-solving muscle - here's how the public relations
blueprint can actually work for you, step by step, as a department,
division or subsidiary manager.
You and the public relations people assigned to your business,
non-profit or association unit, sit down and list and prioritize
your most important outside audiences.
You and your team interact with members of the key target
audience and ask a lot of questions about how they perceive
your operation. Watch for negatives.
You gather the data and use them to set your public relations
goal - i.e., correct that inaccuracy, clarify that misconception,
fix that false assumption.
Then you select one of three available strategies that will show
you how to reach that goal: create perception where there may
be none, change existing perception, or reinforce it.
Now you and your PR team prepare a persuasive, compelling,
factual and believable message designed to alter the most hurtful
perceptions among members of your key target audience.
Here, you select from among dozens of communications tactics
that will carry your message to the eyes and ears of your target
audience. Everything from media interviews, personal meetings
and emails to speeches, brochures and newsletters. You may
even speed things up by adding more communications tactics,
and by increasing certain key tactic frequencies.
To nail down results, you and your PR team again monitor the
perceptions of key target audience members, again asking
questions, but this time watching carefully for signs that the
negatives you discovered are actually being altered. And most
important, that your target audience perception is moving in your
You'll know your public relations effort is a winner when you
successfully apply your business, non-profit or association
resources to persuading your key external stakeholders to your
way of thinking, then move them to take actions that lead to the
success of your department, division or subsidiary.
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.
Robert A. Kelly ? 2004.
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.
Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com; bobkelly@TNI.net