Don't Waste Money on Public Relations
by Robert A. Kelly
Like it or not, people take
action based on the facts they see before them. And that can
create behaviors that impact your business, sometimes
So, in order to succeed in your business, you need to take steps to create,
change or reinforce that key audience's opinion by reaching them,
persuading them and moving them to take the actions you desire.
Does it work every time? No.
Is it easy? No.
Is it necessary? Yes.
I recommend working with a local public relations specialist
because your work day probably leaves little time for this activity,
and you may have minimal experience to bring to the party.
So, before hiring anyone, try out this notion on him or her.
What we know is that people will act on their own perception of
the facts before them. And we know that those perceptions will
lead to predictable behaviors, but about which something can be
done. Then, 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.
If you're met with the equivalent of a blank stare, look elsewhere.
Once you find a compatible public relations person, let's roll! For
openers, you'll earn his or her enduring support when you commit
to take action when your information gathering turns up troubling
perceptions among those target audiences.
First, try to be a regular speaker in your marketing area, an
interviewee for radio and newspapers, a sponsor of special events
and an active member of local business and fraternal clubs. You
put "money in the good will bank" when you do this, against the
day trouble breaks out.
Start by staying in touch with groups of people whose actions help
or hinder your operations. What do they believe about your products
and services and your organization itself? Stay alert to potential
problems. This is the fact finding, information gathering phase.
Then list your key audiences. But, at first, just the ones whose
actions REALLY concern you. Begin interacting with them.
They can include stakeholders like customers, employees,
prospects, media, community residents, local government agencies
and many others.
Make a promise to yourself to take the following actions when you
discover a troubling perception.
First, set down your public relations goal. Examples: neutralize that
negative rumor; pacify that activist group; restore the faith of that
group of former customers, or reinforce your prospects' interest in
your product or service.
In any case, left unattended, each can hurt your business.
Next, HOW will you approach the perception problem? In other
words, what is your strategy?
We know there are just three ways to deal with such an opinion
problem. Create new opinion, change existing opinion, or reinforce
Decide which it is, and proceed. But work closely with your
public relations advisor by preparing persuasive messages
carefully and creditably designed to counter the misconception
you have uncovered. Try out the messages on a few outsiders
to see just how persuasive they really are.
Now, you must select the communications tactics – "beasts of
burden," I call them – to carry your persuasive message to the
eyes and ears of that crucially important target audience.
You have a huge choice of such communications tactics ranging
from emails, press releases, media interviews and newsletters
to personal meetings, speeches, open houses and dozens of others.
But your job is still not completed. You must continue to monitor
members of your target audience to measure not only awareness
of your message, but how well is it being received, and even did
it get there in the first place?
Then, if necessary, adjust your message content and the
To recap, until something better comes along, we have little choice
but to track perceptions among key audiences the best way we can.
Then, create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching,
persuading and moving-to-desired-action those people whose
behaviors effect the organization.
Adopting this kind of sequence puts the odds in your favor that the
money you spend on public relations will not be wasted.
How To Get Your Public Relations Money's Worth
There are only three ways a public relations effort can impact behavior: create opinion where it doesn't exist, reinforce existing opinion or change that opinion. No surprise that the process by which those goals are realized is known as public relations.
Let's Blow The Lid Off Public Relations
Do you take the core strengths of public relations into account as you manage those communications tactics?
Because if you don’t, you’re missing the sweet-spot of public relations. The communications tactics you use must work together to create the behavioral change you want in certain groups of people important to the success of your business.
The PR Commitment to Small Business
Sometimes I wonder about those small businesses that ignore the perceptions and behaviors of the key audiences with the most immediate impact on their businesses – the very people who hold the future of that small business in their hands!
Small Business Failure? Nuts!
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.