PR Essential to your Success

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PR Essential to your Success

Whether you are a business, non-profit or association

manager, your success will depend, to a large degree,

on how well you positively impact the behaviors of

those outside audiences that most affect your operation.

You need to create external stakeholder behavior

change – the kind that leads directly to achieving your

managerial objectives.

And you do that by persuading those important outside

folks to your way of thinking, then moving them to take

actions that help your department, division or subsidiary


The road to that success is filled with potholes, but

you’ll hardly feel them if you have the right roadmap.

Like this one: 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.

Where can such a blueprint take you? Maybe to more

qualified proposals for strategic alliances and joint

ventures; or to big givers looking at your 501-c-3;

or to interested specifying sources requesting more

information; newly qualified prospects showing interest;

a big jump in sales floor visits; more requests for

membership applications; repeat purchases reappearing;

political figures taking a closer look at your unit as a

key member of the business, non-profit or association

communities; not to mention new contacts from

community leaders.

As that business, non-profit or association manager,

there are two steps you should take asap. List those

outside audiences of yours whose behavior helps or

hinders you in reaching your objectives. Then note

how severe their impact is, and we’ll take a shot at the

target audience you show as number one.

Sad to say, you probably haven’t assembled the

information that tells you how most members of that

key outside audience view your organization. So,

presuming there is no sign of a large professional survey

budget in your shop, you and your colleagues will have

to handle the job of monitoring external audience

perception by asking the questions yourselves.

Interrogatives such as “Have you ever met anyone from

our organization? Was it a satisfactory experience?

What do you know about our services or products?”

Stay alert for negative statements, especially evasive or

hesitant replies. And be on the lookout for false

assumptions, untruths, misconceptions, inaccuracies and

potentially damaging rumors. Any of those must be

corrected because we know they usually produce negative


Now you must decide which of these nasties is the most

dangerous at this moment and correct it before it really

starts to hurt. In other words, once you select the specific

perception to be altered, you have identified your public

relations goal.

But there’s always a “but.” In this case, a PR goal

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

pasta without the sauce. So, you get to select one of

three strategies especially useful for creating perception

or opinion where there may be none, changing existing

perception, or reinforcing it. But be careful that your

new goal and the new strategy compliment each other.

After all, you wouldn’t want to select “change existing

perception” when you have a good current perception

suggesting a “reinforce” strategy.

Now let’s talk about writing ability. This is where your

PR team must employ those writing skills and put

together a compelling message. One designed to alter

your key target audience’s perception, as called for by

your public relations goal.

To boost message credibility, combine your message

with a newsworthy announcement – or make it part of

a different presentation. Helps downplay the fact that

something is being corrected.

Message clarity is paramount here, i.e., what perception

needs clarification or correction and why? You must

be truthful and your language must be persuasive,

logical and believable. Experience tells us this is the

best way to hold the attention of members of that target

audience, and move perception in your direction.

Now let’s talk about the tools you will use to carry this

persuasive message to the attention of that external audience

(I call such tactics “beasts of burden”).

This should be the easiest part of your PR effort because

there is an endless selection of communications tactics

available such as group briefings, letters-to-the-editor,

brochures, press releases and personal contacts. Or

possibly, radio and newspaper interviews, speeches,

newsletters, and many others.

A word here. Be careful about the tactics you select.

Is there a clear record of how effectively they actually

reach people similar to those you call your target


At this point, you’ll want to anticipate queries about

progress by beginning your second perception

monitoring session among members of your target

audience. There is, however, a considerable difference

the second time around. Using questions similar to

those used during your earlier monitoring session, you

now will be alert for signs that audience perceptions are

beginning to move in your direction. Fortunately,

that means progress.

Yes, we are also lucky in the PR business that we can move

almost any program along at a faster rate by using

additional communications tactics, AND by increasing

their frequencies.

Remember to keep your attention focused sharply on

the very groups of outside people – your key external

stakeholders -- who play such a major role in just how

successful a manager you will be.

And by all means, use a workable blueprint such as that

mentioned earlier. One that helps you persuade those

important outside stakeholders to your way of thinking,

then moves them to take actions that lead to the success

of your department, division or subsidiary.

Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to 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, 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. 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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