When times are tough, it's no time to ignore those external
audiences whose behaviors matter so much to your organization.
In your own best interest, are you seeing to their care and
feeding? I mean, if a certain group of outsiders behaves in ways
that really help or hinder your operations, they do rate your
Of course they do! That's why we call them key target audiences,
or publics. Either way, what they think about you, then how
they behave, can support or derail the best laid plans.
Why take any chances?
Make a list of those important external audiences and put them
in priority order. Then pick #1 and let's go to work.
Since it's their perceptions that lead to behaviors, you must get
inside their heads. That means monitoring members of that key
audience and asking lots of questions to determine what they
think about you and your operation.
Watch for rumors. And for negativity. Misconceptions and misunderstandings involving your products, services and pricing
should be pursued in those conversations.
With that kind of data in hand, you are able to establish the public
relations goal. Namely, correct that misconception, or neutralize
that rumor, or clarify that fuzziness about your services.
Goals are certainly necessary, but they need a strategy that shows
HOW you will alter those worrisome perceptions. In this business,
we have just three possible strategies: create opinion (perceptions)
where none exist, change existing opinion, or reinforce it.
Obviously, you will select the strategy that leads directly to
achieving your public relations goal.
Now the tough part. What will you communicate to members of
your #1 target audience? Your message is key to the success of
your public relations effort.
It must be clear as crystal as to what needs to be clarified or
neutralized. It must be obvious that the message is truthful,
authoritative and compelling. In short, it must deliver a specific
message about what is being corrected.
What do you do with the message? As with a bullet in a rifle, you
pull the trigger. Or, to mix metaphors, you call in the "beasts of
burden," communications tactics, to carry your message directly
to members of that key target audience.
You're fortunate that there are piles of communications tactics
just waiting for you - the Internet, broadcast appearances, press
releases, brochures, seminars, personal meetings, special events,
emailings, and on and on.
Sooner rather than later, you're going to want some signs that
your public relations program is working. And that means
Remonitoring that target audience, again asking lots of questions
and seeking evidence that a misconception has been corrected,
an inaccuracy cleared up, or a rumor explained away.
If that is the result of your REmonitoring drill, your public
relations program has succeeded.
Should your remonitoring not yield those results, you will need
to adjust your communications tactics to produce a broader mix
of "weapons" going against that audience. You may also decide
to increase the frequencies of your tactics. Your message, of
course, must be reevaluated for clarity, emphases and factual
Handling public relations this way, you're moving in the
right direction because you're mobilizing your most important
external audiences in support of YOUR goals and objectives.
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