Neglect PR at Your Own Risk

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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

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.”


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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