public.

The Power of Applied Public Relations

The Power of Applied Public Relations

Especially powerful when business, non-profit, public

entity and association managers plan for and create the

kind of external stakeholder behavior change that leads

directly to achieving their managerial objectives. All the

more so when they persuade those key outside folks to

their way of thinking, then move them to take actions

that allow their department, group, division or subsidiary

to succeed.

What they will have done, of course, is apply public

relations strategy to doing something positive about the

behaviors of the very outside audiences that MOST

affect their operations.

And the payoff from combining sound public relations

strategy with effective communications tactics is achieving

the bottom line – perception altered, behaviors modified,

employer/client satisfied.

And now the hard part. What steps must managers take

to apply this public relations approach to their operation?

By employing public relations activity that creates

first perception, then behavior change within that key

outside audience.

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. Plus, that right PR

comes with its own blueprint: 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 usually

accomplished.

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.

As time passes, 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.

A caution here. Satisfy yourself that your PR people are

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 PR staff accept the basic truth that perceptions

almost always lead to behaviors that can help or hurt your

unit.

And by all means, invest the time to review your public

relations plan with your entire staff. Especially so with

regard to 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?

It’s our good fortune that our team members 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.

Now it’s time to directly address the problems that

appeared during your key audience perception

monitoring. Probably, your new public relations goal

will call for straightening out that dangerous

misconception, or correcting that gross inaccuracy, or

doing something about that awful rumor.

Let’s pause for a moment and ask ourselves how we

plan to reach that PR 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

macadamia mousse on your gnocchi. 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.

Structuring your corrective message is especially crucial

because persuading an audience to your way of thinking is

the hardest kind of work. And never more so than when

you’re looking for words that are compelling, persuasive,

believable AND clear and factual. Hard work yes, 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.

Being particularly careful to select the precise

communications tactics most likely to reach your target

audience, you will find literally dozens of them available

to you. From speeches, facility tours, emails and

brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews,

newsletters, personal meetings and many others. Be

certain that the tactics you pick are known to reach folks

just like your audience members.

Another wrinkle to guard against is this. The very credibility

of your message can depend on how you deliver it. So, until

you’re certain as to its impact, try introducing it initially 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’m as impatient as the next person, so I suspect the same may

be true of you. If things slow down, you can always accelerate

matters with a broader selection of communications tactics

AND increased frequencies.

Managerial public relations applied this way can be a beautiful

thing to watch or, better yet, to happen to you. It also suggests

that managers like yourself can take a giant step forward when

you use public relations to do something positive about the

behaviors of the very outside audiences that MOST affect your

operation.

end

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

entity and association managers about using the fundamental

premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives.

He has authored 250 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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