As the kids say, how cool is this?
You're a business, non-profit or association manager
and, finally, you decide to do something positive about
the behaviors of those important outside audiences of
yours - behaviors that MOST affect your operation.
What you're doing, of course, is creating the very
external stakeholder behaviors that will help achieve
your managerial objectives. Best part is, you'll actually
pull it off when you persuade those key outside folks
to your way of thinking, then move them to take
actions that help your department, division or
subsidiary reach its goal.
What it comes down to is this. Your public relations
effort must involve more than news releases, special
events and brochures if you really want to get your
money's worth. The right PR really CAN alter
individual perception and lead to changed behaviors
that help you succeed.
Here's a public relations blueprint that functions like
your own PR Global Positioning System: 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 your
organization the most, the public relations mission is
There's no end to the kinds of results that can flow from
that fundamental premise. For example, prospects
starting to work with you as well as customers making
repeat purchases; improved relations with government
agencies and legislative bodies; capital givers or
specifying sources making inquiries. And even stronger
relationships with the educational, labor, financial and
And don't rule out such results as enhanced activist group
relations, and expanded feedback channels; rebounds in
showroom visits; community service and sponsorship
opportunities; new proposals for strategic alliances and
joint ventures; membership applications on the rise, and
almost certainly, new thoughtleader and special event
Because your most important outside audiences really
must come to regard your services, operations or products
in a positive way, every member of your PR support team
A variety of results can flow from this managerial approach
to public relations. It can generate follow-on activity like
customers making repeat purchases; stronger relationships
with the educational, labor, financial and healthcare
communities; improved relations with government agencies
and legislative bodies; prospects starting to work with you,
and even capital givers or specifying sources looking your
You can even see results such as community service and
sponsorship opportunities; new proposals for strategic alliances
and joint ventures; enhanced activist group relations, and
expanded feedback channels; rebounds in showroom visits;
and membership applications on the rise, not to mention new
thoughtleader and special event contacts.
Because you obviously want your most important outside
audiences to regard your services and operations or products in
a positive manner, every member of your PR support team
must be sold on what you are doing. Be especially cautious
that they accept the reality that perceptions almost always
lead to behaviors that can help or hurt your unit.
Go over the PR blueprint with them, in particular 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?
As you might suspect, the perception monitoring part of
the effort can be handled by professional survey people IF
the budget is there. However, you can always use your PR
people who 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
Here, you need to set your public relations goal, one that
addresses the aberrations that cropped up during your key
audience perception monitoring. No doubt your new goal
will strive to straighten out that dangerous misconception,
or correct that gross inaccuracy, or do something about
that damaging rumor.
Every goal needs a strategy to show you how to get there.
There are three strategic choices when it comes to doing
something about a perception or opinion challenge: create
perception where there may be none, change the perception,
or reinforce it. By the way, if you select the wrong strategy,
it will taste like horseradish sauce on your brownies. So be
certain the new strategy fits well with your new public
relations goal. For example, you don't want to select "change"
when the reality dictates a "reinforce" strategy.
Since there is never any rest for the weary, you must now task
your PR team to prepare some carefully targeted, corrective
language. Language that is compelling, persuasive and
believable AND clear and factual. There is little choice here.
You must correct a damaging perception by shifting opinion
towards your point of view, leading to the desired behaviors.
Now, work with your communications specialists to 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.
Because the credibility of a message can depend on how
it's delivered, you might introduce it to smaller gatherings
rather than using higher-profile tactics such as news releases
or talk show appearances.
When you no longer can resist calls for a progress report,
you will have to respond by returning to the field with your
PR team for a second perception monitoring session with
members of your external audience. Using many of the same
questions used in the first benchmark session, you'll now be alert
for signs that the bad news perception is being altered in
In the event the program loses momentum, you can always
accelerate matters by using more communications tactics
along with increased frequencies.
Again as the kids say, it IS cool when public relations gives
you a choice, one that lets you alter individual perception in
a way that results in changed behaviors that lead directly to
your organization's success.
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