Yes, that IS security when nobody can downsize you
because you OWN that small business of yours! But
preserving that special advantage is a never-ending job.
In fact, do you know what needs to be preserved more than
Well, since they hold the future of your business in their
hands, I believe that an outside group of people whose
behaviors can effect your business' survival more than
any other, deserves your rapt attention.
What I'd like you to conclude from that is, what your key
target audiences think about you can take you down in a
New York minute!
* customers displeased with your product or service don't come back
* prospects who don't know about you don't buy
* employees who believe you don't care about them lean on their oars
* when minority folks believe you discriminate, you have new problems
* and if community residents believe your business is a lousy place to work, you have hiring and retention problems.
Even though help is on the way, you can't work on everything
at once, so prioritize those key audiences. That is, which external
audience is of immediate concern?
The good news is that problems like those above just don't
happen when you closely and regularly monitor what those
"key publics" think about you. First, you find ways to interact
Then probe what they think about you and the business. In
what behaviors are they engaging? What about misunderstandings?
Do you see any problems brewing?
When you take the trouble to stay in touch with those folks
whose behaviors affect your business the most, you've taken
an important first step towards preserving your business.
There's a real sequence here. Once you gather those facts
from monitoring your key, target audience, it becomes
obvious what your problem is and, thus, the public relations
goal. For example, correct that misconception about your
product; or reinforce a budding perception that you deliver
superior service; or correct a suspicion that you don't put
women in positions of responsibility.
With your goal in-hand, how are you going to achieve it?
You need a strategy which, in public relations, only comes
in three flavors: create opinion (perception) where none
may exist; change existing opinion, or reinforce it.
So, you've set your public relations goal AND a very doable
strategy. Now, what must your message say to implement
that strategy? It must address the "fix" you decided upon
when you set the goal. It must be clear, specific, persuasive
and, above all, believable. As you write it, remain sensitive
to what you are trying to do: change somebody's perception
which almost always leads to the change in behavior you
really want. Does your message meet this challenge?
Many would now find themselves with a great goal, a super
strategy and a first class message, and nowhere to go.
But not you. Here, you select the "beasts of burden" you
need to carry that message to the eyes and ears of those
members of your key, target audience whom you need to
reach and move to action.
And that means communications tactics. There are more
available to you than we have time or space to list. Among
them: community briefings, seminars, special events, news
releases, speeches, brochures and personal contacts.
Is your work completed? Nope, because how will you track
your progress? The answer is, Round 2 of the monitoring
job. Interact with members of your prime outside audience
all over again, carefully evaluating what you hear. If the
goal was "correct a misconception," are you beginning to
notice signs of that correction? Do those you talk to show,
however little, a better understanding of the facts of the
matter as represented in your message?
What's the bottom line? Behaviors, of course.
When your messages and communications tactics combine
to alter a questionable perception held by members of your
key, target audience, certain behaviors will soon follow.
Among them, favorable mentions in the media and in
individual speeches and lectures; increased patronage for
your business; "corrected" perceptions by influential
members of that important group of people, and many
other similar signs that your message and your
communications tactics have, indeed, "drawn blood."
Happily, what that adds up to is a successful public
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