By Robert A. Kelly
How cool is this? You're a business, non-profit or
association manager. You decide to get serious about
your public relations and shift the spotlight away from
communications tactics. You implement an action
blueprint that (1), helps you persuade your key external
stakeholders to your way of thinking. And then (2), helps move them to
take actions that lead to your success as a department, division
or subsidiary manager.
It comes into sharper focus when that public relations blueprint
helps deliver target audience behaviors like new waves of
prospects buzzing around, more qualified calls about strategic
alliances, a jump up in repeat purchases, a boost in
the number of engineering consultants specifying your
products or services, and even increased membership
applications and contributions.
What is that blueprint, anyway? Try this: People act on
their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to
predictable behaviors about which something can be done.
When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching,
persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people
whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public
relations mission is accomplished.
As I've said many times in the past about that fundamental
premise of public relations, it shines the PR spotlight directly
on those outside groups of people with a large say about how
successful a manager is going to be – namely, it targets
his or her most important external audiences.
But you need the PR folks assigned to your unit to buy into
the program and shift their priorities from communications
tactics to a workable, comprehensive plan like this one
designed to deliver those key, outside audience behaviors.
Behaviors, by the way, that obviously help or hinder a
manager in achieving his or her operating objectives.
The real work for you as the department, division or subsidiary
manager starts by listing all your key external audiences in
priority order so that you initially focus your resources on
that number one audience.
Next step is answering the question, what do members of that
audience think about your organization? Short of spending big
money on professional survey counsel, you and your PR team
can/should/must interact with those members by asking
questions such as "What, if anything, do you think about us?
Have you ever dealt with our people? Were you pleased with
the experience? Have you heard other comments about our
At each step in this perception monitoring drill, you and your
team must watch carefully for negatives like false assumptions,
rumors, misconceptions and inaccurate statements. In other
words, negativities that might turn into target audience
behaviors that could really damage your operation.
The monitoring data you collect is the stuff of your public
relations goal. For example, stifle the rumor, straighten out the
misconception, turn around the false assumption, or make that
However, managers know that achieving any goal demands the
right supporting strategy to show you how to reach it.
Considering the workload, you'll be glad to know that opinion/
perception matters allow just three strategy choices: create
perception where there isn't any, change existing perception,
or reinforce it. But be alert to the need to select a strategy that
directly complements your public relations goal.
The real burden of this PR problem solving sequence rests with
the actual message you use to communicate your corrective facts
to your target audience. This is where the public relations heavy
lifting takes aim at altering individual perception among your target
First and foremost, your message must be clear, persuasive and
carefully factual if it is to nudge perception/opinion in your
direction and lead directly to those behaviors you desire. And it
will do so only if your message is both believable and compelling.
Which suggests that it be vetted prior to release by a variety of
individuals to insure that it measures up to these standards.
You're in luck because you will benefit from a long list of
communications tactics to help carry your message to the eyes
and ears of members of your target audience. The list includes
tactics like speeches, special events, media interviews and
newsletters as well as press releases, customer briefings, facility
tours, emails and quite a few others. Only caution here is,
research each tactic carefully to be certain it has a record of
reaching people just like those who make up your target
Fortunately, things can always be accelerated by adding more
high- impact communications tactics, increasing their frequencies
and fine-tuning your message.
Answering the opening question, using a public relations
blueprint of this nature can be extremely "cool." Especially
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.
In my view, that IS the best PR has to offer managers.
Yes, Public Relations Can Help Your Business
Do you worry about certain behaviors among your most important audiences because those
behaviors are vital to achieving your objectives? If your answer is yes, you need
What Is "Best Practice" Public Relations?
Best practice public relations is that stays true to its fundamental premise.
A Simple Formula for Success
Leaders in the business world need public relations big time, and they show it every day.