And the best way to mind your own business is to insure that
those audiences whose behaviors have the greatest effect on
your enterprise keep thinking about you in the most positive
way. Reason is, bad behaviors often follow bad perceptions,
so what your external audiences think about you can mean
success or failure.
It's not hard to do, but it's something you must attend to on
a regular basis. How? Try this.
Nobody can do it all, so put those outside audiences in
order-of-importance with the REALLY key audience at the
Once prioritized. and beginning with #1, learn more about
what's on the minds of that audience. In other words, monitor
their feelings and perceptions about you and your business.
Ask questions. While you will appreciate positive input
(and take it into account), it's absence of awareness,
misconceptions, inaccuracies and hard feelings that you're
really after because that's what can cause you grief. Also,
stay alert for similar indicators coming from print and
broadcast media, emails, and business and community
speeches and pronouncements.
In public relations, we know that people act on their own
perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable
behaviors about which something can be done. So, when we
create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading
and moving-to-desired-action those people whose behaviors
affect the organization, the public relations mission is
O.K., you've now gathered a lot of information about how your
key target audience feels or doesn't feel about you and/or your
business. What do you do with it?
You establish your public relations goal. For example, correct
this inaccuracy; straighten out that misconception; reinforce
and strengthen a slightly positive perception; change a view of
your business that's just plain wrong.
But now, you need a strategy to help you achieve that goal. In
public relations, that means you get to choose one of three
basic strategies: create opinion (perceptions) where none may
exist; change existing opinion; or reinforce it.
Take another look at the public relations goal you've established
and make certain that the strategy you've selected is a logical
Which brings you to "the message." Exactly what meaning and
what remedial understanding do you want to convey to members
of that key target audience? Your message must be crystal-clear
about the misconception, rumor, inaccuracy or wrong-minded
belief you discovered while interacting with, and gathering
information from members of that audience.
The corrective message must be persuasive and believable - not
aggressive or overbearing - as it outlines in plain language the
simple truth of the matter.
How do you move messages from your business to the eyes and
ears of members of your key target audience? You use
communications tactics, or "beasts of burden" as I like to call
them. There are a ton of them and their job is to carry your
message directly to the attention of key audience members.
Tactics range from Internet communications, facility tours,
editorial board meetings and press releases to broadcast
interviews, promotional contests, brochures, face-to-face
meetings and many others.
But how do you know whether the effort is succeeding or not?
You remonitor members of that key target audience, watching
carefully for signs that perception (opinion) is moving in your
direction. In other words, do you see progress towards achieving
the public relations goal you established at the beginning of
the program? For example, increasing numbers of people appear
to understand why the rumor was wrong, or what they believed
about your business was simply inaccurate.
If your goal and strategy make sense, and if your message is
persuasive and your communications tactics aggressive and
well-targeted, signs of public understanding and acceptance
will steadily increase.
In which case minding one's business in this manner will prove
especially rewarding as the public relations program achieves
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.
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