Why Do You Want PR?
by Bob Kelly
Why Do You Want PR? To get someone's name in the newspaper or a
product mention on a radio talk show?
If that's all you expect, fine.
But that response tells me that, as a business, non-profit or association
manager, you may have overlooked an important reality: people act on
their own perception of the facts, leading to predictable behaviors about
which something can be done on your behalf.
And you may be compounding
that error by failing to insist that your department, division or subsidiary
PR people make this very special effort: create, change or reinforce
the perceptions of those external audiences whose behaviors really DO
impact your unit.
If true, it means you don't have a proactive public
relations plan that targets the kind of stakeholder behavior change
that leads directly to achieving your operating objectives.
I'll bet you'd like to do everything you can to help your unit's PR team
persuade your important outside stakeholders to your way of thinking.
Especially so when such a program works to move those stakeholders to
behaviors that lead to the success of YOUR department and YOUR
Well, there's still time to fix things.
Sit down with
the public relations people assigned to your unit and make certain the whole
team buys into why it's so important to know how your outside audiences
perceive your operations, products or services. Be sure they accept the
reality that perceptions usually morph into behaviors that can hurt your
Explore with them how you will monitor and gather perceptions by
questioning members of your most important outside audience: how much do you
know about our organization? Have you had prior contact with us and were you
pleased with the interchange? How much do you know about our services or
products and people? Have you experienced problems with our people
Of course, you can always engage survey pros to round
up these data for you, but that can be expensive. Besides, remember
that your very own PR team is already in the perception and behavior game
and could be of use for this opinion monitoring project.
who interacts with members of your target audience, questioners must stay
alert to false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, misconceptions
Here you must be cautious because the perception
information you gather helps you set a specific public relations goal.
For example, clarify the misconception, spike that rumor, or correct the
You pursue that goal by picking the right strategy from
the three choices available to you. Change existing perception,
create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it. Be
certain, however, that the strategy you choose is an obvious fit with
your new public relations goal.
The question now becomes, what will
you say to members of your key target audience who harbor the offending
perception, to help persuade them to your way of thinking?
PR team's best writer because s/he must prepare a very special, corrective
message. One that is not only compelling, persuasive and believable, but
clear and factual if it is to shift perception/opinion towards your point of
view and lead to the behaviors you have in mind.
Happily, the next
step is easy. You select communications tactics to carry your message to the
attention of your target audience. Making certain that the tactics you select
have a record of reaching folks like the members of your target audience,
you can pick from dozens that are available. From speeches,
facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings,
media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many
Remember that the method of communication often affects
the credibility of the message. So you may wish to deliver it in
small get togethers like meetings and presentations rather than through
a higher-profile media announcement.
Others will soon clamor for signs
of progress, and you'll want to demonstrate such results. And that means a
second perception monitoring session with members of your target audience.
Using many of the same questions as in your first benchmark session, you
will now be on alert for signs that the offending perception is being altered
in your direction.
Fortunately, you can always speed things up by adding
more communications tactics as well as increasing their
You'll know exactly why you wanted to apply proactive
public relations when you sharpen your focus on the very groups of outside
people who play a major role in just how successful a manager you will be –
your key external stakeholders.
Especially when you follow through with a
workable plan that helps you persuade those important outside stakeholders to
your way of thinking, then moves them to take actions that lead to the
success of your department, division or subsidiary.
As comedian Jackie
Gleason used to say, "How sweet it is!"
The Best PR Has to Offer Managers
When you, as a unit manager for a business, non-profit or
association, take these steps to help persuade your key outside
stakeholders to your way of thinking, then help move them to
take actions that lead to your managerial success, that IS the best PR has to offer. managers.
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Robert A. Kelly © 2004.
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 holds a bachelor of science
degree from Columbia University, major in public relations. Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com
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