Done right, it helps modify the behaviors of your most important
target audiences, and that can spell S-U-R-V-I-V-A-L.
I don't believe that's an overstatement because a customer who
thinks badly of you and your business will not soon be darkening
Nor are you likely to see prospects who know little or nothing
Ditto for people who may be miffed about something you, or one
of your people, said or did publicly.
And forget about those folks with a REAL beef about your business.
Like "I didn't get what I thought I paid for," or "it didn't live up to
its promise" or "my emails weren't answered" or "they take 5 days
to answer a phone inquiry."
Let's face it, meeting this challenge is either a priority for you or it
If it is, here's a little advice.
First, you should know that public relation's clout is rooted solidly
in its fundamental premise:
"People will act on their own perception of the facts before them.
And those perceptions will lead 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 those
folks whose behaviors affect the enterprise, the public relations effort
is a success."
And THAT'S clout in any language!
But the trick lies in using it to your best advantage. So, because few
of us can do justice to a dozen target audiences at once, let's start by
selecting the one with the most impact on your business. Members of
such an important group could range from homemakers, teenagers or
retirees to 30-something males, techies or military dependents on a
nearby base. Only you can say.
Now, do you know everything you should about the members of
that audience, that "public?" Are you aware of how they perceive
you and your business, if at all? Probably not in enough detail, so
you need to take the time to meet with several individuals drawn
from that audience. Listen carefully to their feelings and beliefs
about your business, its products and services. And be sensitive to
media mentions of your business.
Pay special attention to any hints of misconceptions and inaccuracies
about you and your business, as well as possible trouble areas that
might be brewing.
With those data gathered, you and your public relations advisor can
set your strategy. And that means deciding whether the opinions
you've gathered from members of your key audience need to be
created (in the absence of any opinion), changed or simply
reinforced. There must also be agreement on the time frame in
which the activity will take place.
This is especially important because you must now prepare persuasive messages to be aimed at those whom you discovered are harboring misconceptions, or no perceptions at all about you. Your objective
will be to move that opinion in your direction.
Which brings us to our "beasts-of-burden" - the communications
tactics designed to carry those persuasive messages to members
of your key target audience.
There are dozens of communications tactics available to you.
Everything from media interviews, news releases and letters-to-
the-editor to facility tours, personal meetings and newsletters.
But your work is still not done. To get the clout promised at the
top of the article, you must monitor your progress by continuing
to interact with folks from your target audience. The key is
watching and listening carefully for indications of a new
awareness of you, your business and how it functions in both
the community and your special marketplace.
At the same time, a sign that progress is being made will appear
in the form of a new receptivity to those persuasive messages by
members of your key target audience.
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.
Finally, as welcome signs of modified target audience behaviors
begin to appear, team members may take heart that the clout
offered by public relations has once again prevailed.
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