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Neglect PR at Your Own Risk!
For those who do, it can only mean:
1. they don’t value tracking the perceptions of important
outside audiences whose behaviors can hurt their operation;
2. they care little about setting a public relations goal designed
to correct those hurtful misconceptions, inaccuracies
3. they care even less about strategies to get them from here to
that PR goal they already don’t care about;
4. and they obviously have no regard for the persuasive messages
needed to convince their key outside audiences that
damaging perceptions of their enterprise are dead wrong.
But, obviously, YOU care or your organization would
reside in the dust bin of history by now, and you wouldn’t be
reading this article!
In fact, I’ll bet you would probably subscribe to the fundamental
premise of public relations itself:
“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 those
people whose behaviors affect the organization, the public
relations mission is usually accomplished.”
But do you monitor what that #1 external audience thinks
about you and your organization? Do you regularly interact
with them asking questions like “What do you think of us, and
why?” at the same time watching for negative undertones,
wrong-headed beliefs, inaccuracies or misconceptions?
If you do, you’ll be anxious to create a public relations
goal that corrects such misconceptions and inaccuracies before
they can lead directly to those negative behaviors.
For example, your goal may aim at pacifying an activist
group, reinforcing prospect interest in your services, or even
countering that painful rumor.
Fortunately, there are only three ways to deal with opinion
or perception problems. Create all-new opinion where
none exists, change existing opinion, or reinforce it.
Now that both your goal and strategy are set, you have some
real work to do. What will you say to your key audience
members to persuade them to your way of thinking? You must
be clear about what should be corrected or clarified. You must
also be persuasive, and your facts and figures believable. If
appropriate, try to be compelling, perhaps with a certain sense
Your communications tactics – some call them “beasts of
burden” -- can now carry that hard-won message to the attention
of your #1 target audience, and there are scads of tactics just
waiting for you to send them into action. For example, letters-
to-the-editor, speeches, open houses, news releases, brochures,
special events, radio interviews, one-on-one meetings and many,
Sooner or later, you’ll need to tell whether or not you are making
any headway with your public relations effort.
Once again, you interact with members of that key audience of
yours. And with questions along the lines of those you used
during your original information gathering exercise when the
program began. But now, you want to know whether your
communications tactics have moved perceptions in your direction.
Are the new responses showing indications that you were
successful in neutralizing that dangerous rumor, or correcting that
misconception, or changing that inaccurate belief once and for all?
Not satisfied with how perceptions are moving? Take another
look at your message to see if it is actually compelling. Is it truly
persuasive? Do your facts really support your goal and strategy?
Did you write it clearly enough?
Remember, what you are looking for here, is a strong indication
that your efforts have clearly moved perceptions and target audience behaviors in the desired direction. If needed, expand the number of
tactics in play and, by all means, increase their frequencies.
When your second perception and behavior drill confirms that
result, feel free to conclude that you have a successful public
relations effort on your hands.
Together, your goal, strategy, message and communications tactics
will have made it possible for you to proclaim, as promised in the fundamental premise, “My public relations mission is accomplished.”
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.