Pardon my enthusiasm, but a large part of your small business'
success is somewhere else. Namely, out among the company's
important external audiences.
How they perceive you, and what they believe about you and
your business, directly affect your chances of success. And
that's because those perceptions usually lead to predictable
behaviors, good or bad. So they're pretty important!
Now, here comes the public relations professional who tests
the opinion waters, then decides whether, on your behalf, s/he
needs to create, change or reinforce that opinion about you
and your company. This is important because it will affect the
message content you prepare aimed at those perceptions.
Next, s/he'll attempt to reach, persuade and move-to-actions-
YOU-desire those very people whose behaviors affect your
operation the most. And we're talking about actions like neutralizing
a rumor, clarifying incorrect perceptions of your service quality,
or reinforcing awareness of your organization's contributions
to the local and regional community.
Now, of course, you and your PR counsel agreed up front, at
the beginning of the program, on the behavioral changes you
would like to see occur. So, it's a simple task to review
together just how successfully the public relations effort on
behalf of your small business is, or is not going.
As you may suspect, I do not give up easily when it comes to
how public relations can help a small business succeed.
So, who does what to get us to this point?
First, you list those two or three groups of people, i.e., key
external audiences, like your prime prospects, or certain
segments of area residents, or influential community leaders,
and others if appropriate to your product and service offerings.
You need a basis from which to evaluate opinions about you
and your small business. So you need to take the time to
interact with members of these key audiences to find out how
they perceive you, especially any areas of potential trouble.
This is the information gathering phase of the program.
Only then can you and your PR person decide just what
opinions need to be recreated, or changed, or simply reinforced.
This becomes the PR objective to be achieved in a realistic,
mutually agreed upon time frame.
Now, we prepare messages most likely to persuade both those
harboring misconceptions, or no perceptions at all about you,
and bring them around to your way of thinking.
Remember that bad perceptions can lead to bad behaviors and,
fortunately, vice versa!
At this point, you need to select the communications tactics -
"beasts of burden," I call them - that will carry your carefully
crafted messages to the eyes and ears of each target audience.
In other words, how will you reach these important people?
You and your PR counsel have a wide choice of tactics. Everything
from personal meetings with members of each target audience,
your periodic speeches, emails, newspaper and radio interviews to promotional events, awards ceremonies, news releases, and many
As time passes, you must continue to speak with members of your
target audiences watching and listening carefully for signs of
awareness of your business and its role in the marketplace and in
the community. Stay alert as well for a growing receptiveness to
your messages by prospective customers.
These are indications that reflect local feelings about your
organization. As your public relations counsel will tell you,
progress in this regard will be directly proportionate to how much
effort and attention you personally give to the outreach program.
The good news is that when public relations modifies behaviors
among groups of people important to your organization, the effort
may be pronounced successful when those altered behaviors help
you reach your managerial objectives.
Which is why the title of this article remains, "Small Business
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