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PRs Only True Measure

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PR’s Only True Measure

Sure, you could measure the rather narrow results

achieved by tactical subsets of your public relations

program like special events, brochures, broadcast

plugs or press releases. On the other hand, you as

a business, non-profit or association manager might

better measure the results of your strategic efforts to

alter individual perception among your key outside

audiences leading to changed behaviors, which then

help you achieve your managerial objectives.

I mean, can we agree that managers MUST plan to

do something positive about the behaviors of those

important external audiences of theirs that most affect

their operation?

And especially so when they persuade those key outside

folks to their way of thinking by helping to move them

to take actions that allow their department, division or

subsidiary to succeed?

But it takes more than good intentions for any manager

to alter individual, key-audience perception leading to

changed behaviors, something of profound importance

to ALL business, non-profit and association managers.

He or she needs a plan dedicated to getting every member

of the public relations team working towards the same

external audience behaviors which insures that the

organization’s public relations effort stays sharply focused.

The plan could be based on a foundation that looks like

this: 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

accomplished.

Results can materialize faster than you might suspect.

For example, bounces in showroom visits; new proposals

for strategic alliances and joint ventures; customers making

repeat purchases; prospects starting to work with them;

membership applications on the rise, and capital givers or

specifying sources looking their way.

Watch the real performers at work. They find out who

among their key external audiences is behaving in ways

that help or hinder the achievement of their objectives. Then,

they list them according to how severely their behaviors

affect their organization.

Next they must determine how most members of that key

outside audience perceive the organization. If the resources

to pay for what could be costly professional survey counsel

aren’t there, Ms. or Mr. manager and his or her PR colleagues

will have to monitor those perceptions themselves. Actually,

the PR folks should already be quite familiar with how to

gather and assess perception and behavior data.

Doing so means meeting with members of that outside

audience and asking questions like “Are you familiar with

our services or products?” “Have you ever had contact

with anyone from our organization? Was it a satisfactory

experience?” And if you are that manager, you must be

sensitive to negative statements, especially evasive or

hesitant replies. Watch carefully for false assumptions,

untruths, misconceptions, inaccuracies and potentially

damaging rumors. When you find such, you will need to

take steps to correct them, as they inevitably lead to

negative behaviors.

Now comes the challenge of selecting the specific

perception to be altered which then becomes your public

relations goal. You obviously want to correct those

untruths, inaccuracies, misconceptions or false

assumptions.

The core reality of the whole drill is that a PR goal

without a strategy to show you how to get there, is like

corned beef and cabbage without the cabbage. It’s just

not the same. So, as you select one of three strategies

(especially constructed to create perception or opinion

where there may be none, or change or reinforce it,)

what you must do is insure that the goal and its strategy

match each other. You wouldn’t want to select “change

existing perception” when current perception is just right

suggesting a “reinforce” strategy.

Now the time has come when you must create a compelling

message carefully constructed to alter your key target

audience’s perception, as specified by your public relations

goal.

Remember that you can always combine your corrective

message with another news announcement or presentation

which may give it more credibility by downplaying the

apparent need for such a correction.

The content of the message must be compelling and quite

clear about what perception needs clarification or correction,

and why. Naturally you must be truthful and your position

logically explained and believable if it is to hold the attention

of members of that target audience, and actually move

perception in your direction.

Occasionally, folks in the PR business will allude to the

communications tactics necessary to move your message

to the attention of that key external audience, as “beasts

of burden” because they must carry your persuasive new

thoughts to the eyes and ears of those important outside

people.

Luckily, there is a wide choice because the list of tactics

is lengthy. It includes letters-to-the-editor, brochures,

press releases and speeches. Or, you might choose radio

and newspaper interviews, personal contacts, facility tours

or customer briefings. There are scores available and the

only selection requirement is that the communications

tactics you choose have a record of reaching people just

like the members of your key target audience.

Of course, you can always move things along by adding

more communications tactics, AND by increasing their

frequencies.

Right about now, the subject of progress reports will arise,

but you will already be hard at work remonitoring

perceptions among your target audience members to test

the effectiveness of your communications tactics. Using

questions similar to those used during your earlier

monitoring session, you’ll now be on sharp alert for signs

that audience perceptions are beginning to move in your

general direction.

Throughout, keep your eye on the core of this approach:

persuade your most important outside audiences with the

greatest impacts on your organization to your way of

thinking. Then move them to take actions that help your

department, division or subsidiary prevail.

Thus, instead of measuring the rather narrow results

achieved by the tactical subsets of your public relations

program like special events, brochures, broadcast plugs

or press releases, you will have discovered the only true

measure of public relations: the results of your strategic

efforts to alter individual perception among your key

outside audiences leading to changed behaviors, helping

you achieve your managerial objectives.

end

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