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How To Get Your Public Relations Money’s Worth
Regardless of what business we’re in, we all want the
value – let’s call it “money’s worth” -- we paid for up-front
at the beginning of any program we undertake. Like, for
instance, the money’s worth implicit in the underlying premise
of public relations. Namely, people act on their own perception
of the facts before them, leading to behaviors about which
something can be done. When public relations creates,
changes or reinforces that opinion by reaching, persuading and
moving-to-desired-action those people whose behaviors affect
the organization, the public relations mission is usually
accomplished and your money’s worth received.
What that suggests, of course, is that you keep your eye
on a project’s end game to make CERTAIN you get the planned
behavior modification you agreed to back when the activity got
How can we be more successful in life than achieving
the goal we set at the beginning of ANY effort? We can’t! It’s
pure success and, in public relations, a sure way of getting your
Why do I feel so strongly about the fundamental premise
of public relations? Because some of us have learned from
leaders in the field, from mentors and from long years of
experience that 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 strategies are
realized is known as public relations. Thus, while behavior is the
goal, and a host of communications tactics are the tools, our
strategy is the leverage provided by public opinion.
Which means the first money’s worth is the fundamental
value that alters target audience perceptions and, thus,
behaviors and helps you get where you want to be.
Next is tactical money’s worth. Carefully selected
communications tactics are the work horses of public relations.
They are effective communications carriers designed to reach
target audiences containing specially tailored, persuasive
messages aimed at influencing target audience perception and,
The list of available communications tactics is long,
flexible and richly diverse. It offers us effective message
carriers ranging from media publicity, special events,
sponsorships and financial communications to public speeches,
awards programs, brochures, annual reports, the worldwide
Internet and many, many more.
In the process, the employer/client receives yet another,
essential money’s worth when public relations gains and
holds the understanding and acceptance of those target
audiences, those publics, without which his or her organization
At the same time, you get reputational value because,
during the problem solving process, the organization’s
reputation is or should be burnished.
And that delivers enormous value to any organization
because it strengthens its ability to pursue successfully its
goals and objectives. And this, in turn, allows it to meet its
obligations to society as a good corporate, association or
There’s still more money’s worth to come – now you
get measurement value. In other words, gathering evidence for
those paying the bill that the communications tactics have
actually changed behaviors.
You should look for signs of measured success via
Internet chatter, in print and broadcast news coverage, reports
from the field, letters-to-the-editor, consumer and customer
reactions, shareholder letters, comments from community
leaders and other feedback.
Even more specific, you’re not going to get your public
relations money’s worth if you fail to deal with what I call
unattended perceptions among those audiences most important
to achieving your objectives.
What would you do if your information gathering
showed potentially damaging, yet unattended perceptions out
there among target audiences vitally important to your
Fact is, to get your public relations money’s worth,
perceptions among your most important audiences MUST
be monitored regularly and, to the extent possible, their
concerns reconciled with both the interests of your own
organizations and, of course, the public interest and the law
of the land.
Fortunately, in the crucible of battle, an action pathway
begins to emerge allowing us to track how each key audience
perceives our organization, particularly watching for any abrupt
changes in perception. Let’s call that a tracking mechanism
that identifies the problem.
Now we can set the public relations goal. For example,
take immediate action to correct the perception and behavior
imbalance, and do so as soon as possible.
Next, we need a public relations strategy to meet that
goal and deal with any imbalance. We have only three
choices: create opinion where there isn’t any, change existing
opinion, or reinforce it. Here, we try to establish clearly what
degree of behavior modification we expect to achieve because
that’s how we’ll know to what extent we have succeeded.
Then, we carefully prioritize our target audiences
starting, for example, with customers, prospects and employees,
minority relations and regulatory agencies.
At this point, we prepare persuasive messages designed
to change any negative perceptions we discovered. Following
which we select those effective communications tactics to
carry those persuasive messages to our target audiences.
At last we come to the end game – did we meet the
behavior modification goal we established up front? If we did,
our public relations program is successful. If we didn’t, we
must re-evaluate our goal, strategy, messages, communications
tactics and our audience perception data gathering methods,
and adjust them for the next effort.
The best part is this: when the behavioral changes
become apparent, and meet the program’s original behavior
modification goal, three satisfying values are realized: One,
the public relations program IS a success.
Two, by achieving the behavioral goal you set at the
beginning, you are using a dependable and accurate public
relations performance measurement. And three, when the
“reach, persuade and move-to-desired-action” efforts
produce a visible modification in the behaviors of those
people you wish to influence, you are using public relations’
core value to its very best advantage insuring that you really
do receive your public relations money’s worth.
Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks about the fundamental
premise of public relations. He has authored 245 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. Kelly holds a bachelor of science
degree from Columbia University, major in public relations.
mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com