Neglect PR at Your Own Risk

Please feel free to publish this article in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. Only requirement: you must use the Robert A. Kelly byline and resource box. Word count is 795 including guidelines and box. Robert A. Kelly © 2006. 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 or rumors; 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 of urgency. 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, many more. 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.” end 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, 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. Visit:


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, 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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