relations.

The Biggest PR Speed Bump of All

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The Biggest PR Speed Bump of All

A single issue – for example, a potentially dangerous,

unattended perception among a key outside audience

– can spread like wildfire nudging ANY business,

non-profit, public entity or association closer to

failure than success. Remember, it’s what people

BELIEVE to be true – rather than the truth itself –

that too often defines the public relations challenge.

Why the top of the head actually hurts just thinking

about a public relations speed bump like that!

It also cries out for a sound public relations strategy

combined with effective communications tactics

leading directly to the bottom line – perception

altered, behaviors modified, employer/client satisfied.

But how do we get there?

By employing public relations activity that creates

first perception, then behavior change within that key

outside audience. And I mean behavior change that

leads directly to achieving managerial objectives.

It’s not easy, but as a manager, you can do it if

you accept the fact that the right PR really CAN

alter individual perception and lead to those changed

behaviors you need. Especially if you follow up by

doing something positive about the behaviors of

those important outside audiences of yours that

MOST affect your operation.

You can take your best shot at it by creating the kind

of external stakeholder behavior change that leads

directly to achieving your managerial objectives. But

only when you persuade those key outside folks to your

way of thinking, and then move them to take actions

that allow your department, group, division or subsidiary

to succeed.

You’ll be glad to know that this approach comes

complete with a blueprint showing you how to manage

this kind of public relations. 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 usually is

usually accomplished.

Here’s a reality that will come crashing in on you as you

start work on this project. Obviously, you will need a lot

more than news releases, brochures, broadcast plugs and

fun-filled special events to get a satisfactory return on

your PR investment. Among the results business, non-

profit, public entity and association managers can expect

are renewed interest from your key external audiences,

new proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures;

rebounds in showroom visits; membership applications

on the rise; new community service and sponsorship

opportunities; and even new thoughtleader and special

event contacts.

With the passage of time, you will notice such customers

making repeat purchases; prospects reappearing; stronger

relationships with the educational, labor, financial and

healthcare communities; improved relations with

government agencies and legislative bodies, and perhaps

even capital givers or specifying sources looking your way.

Be sure that your PR staff is really on board for the whole

effort because you want your key outside audiences to really

perceive your operations, products or services in a positive

light. Reassure yourself that your people accept the basic

truth that perceptions almost always lead to behaviors that

can help or hurt your unit.

Take the time from your busy day to go over the plan, the

blueprint in detail with your staff, especially regarding how

you will gather and monitor perceptions by questioning

members of your most important outside audiences.

Questions like these: how much do you know about our

organization? How much do you know about our services

or products and employees? Have you had prior contact

with us and were you pleased with the how things went? Have

you experienced problems with our people or procedures?

Fortunately, your PR people are also in the perception

and behavior business and can pursue the same objective

as the professional survey firms might were they to

handle the perception monitoring phases of your program:

identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors,

inaccuracies, misconceptions and any other negative

perception that might translate into hurtful behaviors.

Setting your public relations goal in concrete carries

with it the responsibility to address the problems that

appeared during your key audience perception monitoring.

Probably, your new goal will call for straightening out

that dangerous misconception, or correcting that gross

inaccuracy, or doing something about that awful rumor.

But this raises a knotty question: how do you plan to

reach that goal? You have just three strategic choices

when it comes to dealing with a perception or opinion

challenge: create perception where there may be none,

change the perception, or reinforce it. Unfortunately,

selecting a bad strategy will taste like gooseberry

preserves on your salt cod. So be certain the new

strategy fits well with your new public relations goal.

For example, you don’t want to select “change” when

the facts dictate a “reinforce” strategy.

We’re all painfully aware that how you structure your

corrective message is crucial because persuading an

audience to your way of thinking is awfully hard work.

Particularly so when you’re looking for words that are

compelling, persuasive, believable AND clear and

factual. Hard work, but a must if you are to

correct a perception by shifting opinion towards your

point of view, leading to the desired behaviors. Review

your message with your communications specialists

for its impact and persuasiveness.

You can pick from dozens of available tactics to carry

your words to the attention of your target audience, but

you need to select the precise communications tactics

most likely to reach them. From speeches, facility tours,

emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media

interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many

others. Be darn certain that the tactics you pick are known

to reach folks just like your audience members.

Another PR fact of life is that the credibility of your message

can depend on how you deliver it. So, try introducing it to

smaller gatherings rather than using higher-profile

communications such as news releases or talk show

appearances. Before long, you’ll need to produce a progress

report, which means it’s probably time for you and your PR

folks to get back out in the field for a second perception

monitoring session with members of your external audience.

You can use the same questions used in the first benchmark

session, but now you must stay alert for signs that your

communications tactics have worked and that the negative

perception is being altered in your direction.

I know that things don’t always move fast enough for me, and

I suspect the same may be true of you. If you’re caught in a

slowdown, matters can always be accelerated with a broader

selection of communications tactics AND increased frequencies.

So that biggest PR speed bump of all – a potentially dangerous,

unattended perception among a key external audience – really

CAN spread like wild fire and nudge any business, non-profit,

public entity or association closer to failure than success.

Only thing standing between you and such a disaster is your

own resolve as a manager to do something positive about the

behaviors of those important outside audiences of yours that

MOST affect your operation.

Create the kind of external stakeholder behavior change that

leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives. And do

so by persuading those key outside folks to your way of thinking,

by moving them to take actions that allow your department,

group, division or subsidiary to succeed.

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 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. 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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