Kelly.

Are You Cool With This?

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Are You Cool With This?

Managers can be cool, right? Right! Especially business,

non-profit, public entity and association managers who

combine a sound public relations strategy with effective

communications tactics leading directly to the bottom line – perception altered, behavior modified, employer/ client/member objective achieved.

If you don’t as yet fall into that category, you may be

interested in embracing the notion of doing something

positive about the behaviors of the very outside audiences

that MOST affect your operation.

The result might be a surprise as you start to persuade

your key external audiences to your way of thinking, then

move them to take actions that allow your department,

group, division or subsidiary to succeed.

But why be surprised when all that is required is a first

class plan, a plan that will get each of your team members and organizational colleagues working towards the same external

stakeholder behaviors?

Actually, I wouldn’t be approaching the subject this way if

there wasn’t such a plan especially designed to keep a manager’s

public relations effort “on message:” for example, 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 usually accomplished.

We’re fortunate that we won’t have to wait long for results to

appear. For instance, capital givers or specifying sources

looking your way; prospects starting to work with you; customers

making repeat purchases; improved relations with government

agencies and legislative bodies; a rebound in showroom visits;

membership applications on the rise; new thoughtleader and

special event contacts; new proposals for strategic alliances

and joint ventures; fresh community service and sponsorship

opportunities; and even stronger relationships with the

educational, labor, financial and healthcare communities.

The way in which you use your PR staff will impact your

success as a manager. Will you use your regular public

relations staff? People assigned to you from above?

Or will it be PR agency staff? Regardless, they must be

committed to you as the senior project manager, and to

the PR blueprint starting with key audience perception

monitoring.

It would be a good idea at this time to satisfy yourself

that team members really believe that it’s crucially important

to know how your most important outside audiences

perceive your operations, products or services. Be certain

they buy the reality that perceptions almost always lead to

behaviors that can help or hurt your unit.

Another good idea is a review of the PR blueprint with

staff. In particular your plan for monitoring and gathering

perceptions by questioning members of your most

important outside audiences. Questions like these:

how much do you know about our organization?

Have you had prior contact with us and were you

pleased with the exchange? How much do you know

about our services or products and employees? Have

you experienced problems with our people or

procedures?

While costly, outside survey counsel can be used in the

perception monitoring phases of your program. But keep

in mind that your PR people are also in the perception

and behavior business and can pursue the same objective:

identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors,

inaccuracies, misconceptions and any other negative

perception that might translate into hurtful behaviors.

The most harmful issues turned up during your key

audience perception monitoring will demand that you do

something about them. This will turn out to be your new

public relations goal calling, for example, for straightening

out that dangerous misconception, or correcting that gross

inaccuracy, or stopping that potentially fatal rumor.

If you are to be successful in achieving your new PR goal,

you will need a solid strategy to back it up. One that clearly

indicates to you and the PR staff how to proceed. But

remember that there are just three strategic options available

to you when it comes to handling a perception and opinion

challenge. Change existing perception, create perception

where there may be none, or reinforce it. The wrong

strategy pick will taste like liver-stuffed ravioli. So, be

certain the new strategy fits well with your new public

relations goal. Obviously, you don’t want to select

“change” when the facts dictate a “reinforce” strategy.

Now, because persuading an audience to your way of

thinking is not easy, those PR folks of yours must come

up with words that are not only compelling, persuasive

and believable, but clear and factual. Only in this way

will you be able to correct a perception by shifting

opinion towards your point of view, leading to the

behaviors you are targeting.

Your public relations staff can regularly reevaluate the

message to reconfirm that it’s up to snuff and really

persuasive. Next, you’ll want to select the communications

tactics most likely to carry that message to the attention

of your target audience. There are scores of available

tactics. From speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to

consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters,

personal meetings and many others. Just be certain that

those you pick are known to reach folks just like your

audience members.

More often than you might guess, the credibility of the

message itself can actually depend on the perception of

its delivery method. So, you may decide to kick off the

corrective message by unveiling it before smaller gatherings

rather than using higher-profile tactics such as news releases.

It’s also advisable to schedule a followup perception

monitoring session with members of your external audience.

You and your PR people should plan another visit to the

field where you can gather comparative data for use in

producing progress reports. You’ll want to use many of

the same questions used in the benchmark session. Only

this time, you will be watching very carefully for signs

that the bad news perception is being altered in your direction.

Things can always slow down. So be ready to accelerate

matters with more communications tactics and increased

frequencies.

What you’ve now accomplished is simply this. You’ve moved

beyond tactics like special events, brochures, broadcast plugs

and press releases to achieve the very best public relations

has to offer.

And what makes it REALLY interesting is combining a

sound public relations strategy supported by effective

communications tactics leading directly to the bottom line –

perception altered, behavior modified, employer/client/member

objective achieved.

end

Bob Kelly counsels and writes for business, non-profit, public

entity and association managers about using the fundamental

premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives.

He has authored over 250 articles on the subject which are listed

at EzineArticles.com, click Expert Author, click Robert A. Kelly.

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.

mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:www.PRCommentary.com

Author:.

Bob Kelly counsels and writes for business, non-profit, government agency and association managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has published 245 articles on the subject which are listed at EzineArticles.com, click ExpertAuthor, click Robert A. Kelly. 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...

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