Yes, and that pressure often comes from a CEO who knows
what a public relations investment SHOULD produce.
And do public relations folks fear such pressure? Not those
who've got the answers!
For example, "we're spending your public relations investment
in the most effective way - insuring that our most important
external audiences perceive us accurately, understand what we
do, and end up taking those actions we desire.
"We're operating from a solid foundation," Mr/Ms Chairman,
or Executive Director. Namely, 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 your business, the public relations
effort is a success.
So, what actions flow from that underlying premise?
First, we run a kind of G-2 operation by interacting with our
most important external audiences - customers, members,
prospects, technical specifiers and employees, among others.
Here, we ask questions and gather information.
We need to know how they perceive our operation and our
management. We listen carefully to what they say about us,
especially our products or services. At the same time, we
track print and broadcast media and other feedback sources.
We believe it's important to watch for developing
misconceptions and inaccuracies. Particularly potential problem
areas that may need corrective action. Problems like suggestions
of technical difficulties with our products, personnel questions,
perceptions of obsolescence, or trouble-making competitive
Once we've identified perceptions that need correcting, the
question is, what is our strategy for getting it done? Here,
we must ask ourselves whether we need to create a certain
perception where none exists, change an existing perception,
or merely reinforce it.
This is really important because the answer obviously will
affect the persuasive messages we're about to prepare to
correct the misperceptions.
So we carefully put together what we hope will be really
compelling messages. Then, we aim them at those key target
audiences we discovered are harboring misconceptions that,
left unattended, will certainly result in behaviors we don't like.
Our objective will be to move that opinion in our direction.
Now, not surprisingly, we must select communications tactics,
known in some quarters as "beasts of burden," that are carefully
structured to carry those persuasive messages directly to the
attention of members of that key target audience.
Communications tactics range from one-on-one meetings,
newspaper and radio interviews and press releases to open
houses, speeches, brochures, newsletters and promotional events.
There are literally scores of such tactics available to you.
Finally, we must gauge the impact of our communications
activity by continuing to meet with members of that key target
audience, and by monitoring our other feedback sources. We
will watch and listen for signs of developing awareness of you,
your operation and how it functions. But especially for
indications that any misconceptions, or other problems we
discovered, have been resolved.
"Mr/Ms Chairman, at the end of the day, I believe you want us
to use our expertise in a way that helps you achieve your
Thus, regardless of what strategic plan we create to solve a
problem, regardless of what tactical program we put in place,
when all is said and done, we must modify somebody's behavior
if we are to earn our keep.
And that is our certain path to public relations 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 ? 2003
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