If you don't have a grip on public relations, how your most
important outside audiences behave really CAN eat you alive.
But that needn't happen, and for a simple reason: people like
those who make up your key target audiences, act on their
perception of the facts (like everybody else) which leads to
predictable behavior, good or bad, about which something
can be done.
The way to address target audience perceptions is to regularly
monitor how members perceive your organization, especially
any existing misconceptions or brewing problem areas. This
is the monitoring phase.
Now, you isolate what is causing the perceptions you've
uncovered, and the probable "fix" you will apply. Then you
decide upon a realistic amount of behavior change you can
achieve in an equally realistic time frame. You've just
established your public relations goal.
Here, your public relations advisor moves into action by
selecting one of three strategies available, to reach that goal:
create a perception if none exists, change an existing
perception, or reinforce it.
Then you prepare the persuasive messages you need to
change perceptions among your key target audience. They
should also address indirectly those problems or
misconceptions that cropped up during your information
gathering. The messages must also clearly identify what is
really at issue, and be perceived as credible.
Now that you've done some information gathering while
interacting with that key target public, you've set your public
relations goal, strategy and prepared persuasive messages.
How will you get those messages to the eyes and ears that
need to hear and read them?
That's what communications tactics are for - the "beasts of
burden" that deliver your carefully prepared, persuasive
messages to your #1 external audience.
And there are scores of them including face-to-face meetings
with adversaries, newspaper and radio interviews, op-ed
placements, speeches, press releases, community meetings
and many, many more.
From this point forward you're really in monitoring mode.
You must interact again with members of that key, target
audience, and keep an eye on print and broadcast media
for references to your messages or viewpoints.
Because such indicators will reflect how local feelings about
your organization are changing, you'll then have a chance,
if needed, to adjust both the communications tactics and
As time passes, you'll begin to notice increased awareness
of your business and its role in the marketplace; a growing
receptiveness to your messages by customers and others;
increased public perception of the role your organization plays
in its industry and in the community, as well as increasing
numbers of prospects. At the same time, you'll look for
indications that any misconceptions, or other problems you
discovered, have been resolved.
Of course, how much progress you achieve will depend heavily
upon your continued personal involvement in the activity, and
the amount of effort you invest.
The good news is that when behaviors among those groups of
people important to your organization are actually modified, the
public relations effort is a success, and nobody gets eaten alive.
In public relations, there are no more happier, happy endings.
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 ? 2005
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 communications, 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