By Robert A. Kelly
Something that results in your most important outside audiences doing what you need them to do should not be warming the bench.
But that's exactly what's happening at organizations that allow
their public relations people to play games with tactics like
newsletters, press releases and brochures instead of aggressively
pursuing the major benefits PR can provide.
If this describes your public relations program, why not give real
PR a chance, especially since you're already paying for it?
Tell your public relations counsel you want to see the plan for how
s/he will take advantage of the fact that people act on their own
perception of the facts before them leading to predictable behaviors
about which something can be done.
Ask her/him how aggressively s/he will create, change or reinforce
those perceptions by reaching, persuading and moving-to-actions-
you-desire those important external audience members whose
behaviors really affect your organization?
That's the fundamental premise of public relations and you should
be getting your share of that action.
Fact is, this sequence can help you alter the perceptions, and thus
behaviors of your most important external target audiences making
achievement of your business objectives much easier.
This is good news for managers like you because, when the
behavioral changes become apparent, and meet your public relations
program's original behavior modification goal, your PR effort has
Done right, that's when you'll notice customers making repeat
purchases; prospects starting to do business with you; community
leaders seeking you out; businesses proposing beneficial joint
ventures; and legislators and political leaders viewing you as an
important member of the business community.
And that key target audience is just for starters because other
external audiences of importance to you can also be monitored for
perceptions, behaviors and corrective communications as needed.
Now, while there's more than one way to peel an orange, here's
one high-impact, problem-solving sequence that can work for you.
Start by listing your most important audiences whose behaviors
affect your operation in any way. Rank them by how severely their
behaviors impact you, and let's work on the target audience at the
top of your list.
Of course you should be continually aware of how members of that
key target audience view you by taking the opportunity to interact
with folks who make up that audience, and ask questions. Have you
heard of us? What do you think of our products or services? Listen
carefully for signs of negativity and, when you hear them, probe a
little deeper to find out details. Stay alert for inaccuracies, mistaken
beliefs, rumors or misconceptions.
The answers to your questions will quickly coalesce into your new
public relations goal i.e., the specific perception problem and,
thus, behavior change you want. As examples, neutralize that hurtful
rumor, clarify that untruth, turn around that misconception or
correct an important but inaccurate number.
As of this moment, you have a goal and no strategy. But, for
perception and opinion purposes, there are three strategies sitting
on the shelf ready to show you how to use your new PR goal.
You can create perception/opinion where there may be none,
change existing opinion, or reinforce it. Fortunately, your new
public relations goal will indicate clearly which strategy should
The message you send to members of your key target audience is
vitally important. After all, its mission is to alter people's
perceptions or beliefs which you hope will lead to behaviors that
are more helpful to your organization.
Clarity, believability and persuasiveness are the important
ingredients of your message. It must present the truth credibly
and, to the extent possible, make a compelling case.
Now you trot out your "beasts of burden" your communications
tactics to carry your message to members of your key target
audience. And you have an embarrassment of riches in this regard
consumer meetings, emails, press releases, facility tours, speeches,
special events, brochures, radio and newspapers interviews, and
Progress "Are we making any?" will rear its head at this
juncture. Best way to find out is to go back to members of your
target audience and ask the same questions as before.
Only the big difference now versus your first perception monitoring
go-around is, you are now looking for signs that your message
and your communications tactics have combined to alter perceptions,
and thus behaviors in your direction.
Should progress be too slow, you may need to use a broader selection
of communications tactics as well as increasing their frequencies.
Also, revisit your message to determine if your facts were
persuasive, then adjust as needed.
This is the way to Get PR Off the Bench and into your battle for the
hearts and minds of your key target audiences.
By altering perceptions and behaviors in this manner, you take a
giant step towards achieving your business objectives.
Successful Small Businesses Use PR
Are you ready to follow the winners and get public relations working for your small business?
The payoff can be significant key audience behaviors that directly support your business objectives and make the difference between failure and success.
How to Keep Your PR Campaign from Falling Flat
Why do so many PR campaigns fall flat, failing to attract the media attention that their creators crave?
For the same reason that a loaf of bread falls flat if you leave out the yeast. Youve failed to add a small, but vital ingredient.
Does Public Relations Really Matter?
People will act on their own perception of the facts before them.
And those perceptions will lead 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 those folks whose behaviors affect your business,
the public relations effort is a success.