PR Whats the Point

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guidelines and box. Robert A. Kelly © 2006.

PR: What’s the Point?

Here’s the point: 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.

The point is simply stated for businesses, non-profits and

associations. Many concentrate their public relations

effort on newspaper and radio exposures, or funding

management’s favorite special event.

And this, when they should be driving an action plan that

persuades their key external stakeholders to their way of

thinking, then moving those important outside audiences

to take actions that help their departments, divisions or

subsidiaries succeed.

This difference in emphasis can turn into real trouble for

managers who work hard to achieve their operating objectives.

If this sounds like your situation, why not meet with the

public relations people assigned to your unit and make sure

they buy into a blueprint for PR success: the results might

amaze you. How about prospects starting to do business

with you; membership applications on the rise; customers

starting to make repeat purchases; fresh proposals for

strategic alliances and joint ventures; community leaders

beginning to seek you out; welcome bounces in show

room visits; higher employee retention rates, capital givers

or specifying sources beginning to look your way, and

even politicians and legislators starting to view you as a

key member of the business, non-profit or association


You can create those kinds of results when you do

something positive about the behaviors of those outside

audiences that MOST affect your business, non-profit or


And, when you use the promise of PR to deliver external

stakeholder behavior change – the kind that leads directly

to achieving your managerial objectives.

And again when you persuade those important outside folks to

your viewpoint, then move them to take actions that help

your department, division or subsidiary succeed.

If this is the kind of PR you need and want, list those

outside audiences of yours whose behavior helps or

hinders you in achieving your objectives. And list them

according to their impact on your operation.

If experience is any guide, you probably don’t have

access to data showing how most members of that key

external audience perceive your organization.

Truth is, hiring professional survey people to monitor

those perceptions can be expensive, so you and your

colleagues will have to do it yourselves. Interact with

members of that outside audience by asking questions

like “Have you ever had contact with anyone from our

organization? Was it a satisfactory experience? Are you

familiar with our services or products?”

Listen carefully for negative statements, especially

evasive or hesitant replies. Watch for false assumptions,

untruths, misconceptions, inaccuracies and potentially

damaging rumors. Any of which will need to be corrected

because we know counterproductive perceptions usually

lead to negative behaviors.

Of course you want to correct such problems before they

create negative behaviors. So you select the actual perception

to be altered, and that becomes your public relations goal.

Fact is, a PR goal without a strategy to show you how to get

there, is like catfish without the lemon and spicy tartar sauce.

That’s why you must pick one of three strategies structured

to create perception or opinion where there may be none, or

change existing perception, or reinforce it. What you want to do

here is insure that the goal and its strategy match each other.

It wouldn’t do to select “change existing perception” when

current perception is OK suggesting a “reinforce” strategy.

Here is where writing talent is needed. Someone on your PR

team must create a compelling message written in a way that

can alter your key target audience’s perception, as called for

by your public relations goal.

You can always combine your corrective message with a

product or personnel announcement and increase message

credibility by not highlighting the correction itself.

The corrective message should have several attributes,

clarity for one. Be specific about what perception needs

clarification or correction, and why. Your facts must be

accurate and they must be persuasive, logically explained and

believable if the message is to hold the attention of members

of that target audience, and move perception your way.

Now you pick your “beasts of burden” – the actual tactics

you will use to carry your corrective message to the attention

of that external audience.

Communications tactics of all kinds are available including

letters-to-the-editor, brochures, press releases and speeches. Or,

you might select radio and newspaper interviews, personal

contacts, newsletters, or group briefings. But be certain

those you pick have a record of reaching the same audiences

as those that make up your target stakeholders.

Prepare in advance for queries about progress by getting back

out in the field again monitoring perceptions among your

target audience members. Ask questions like those used

during the earlier monitoring session. This time, keep an eye

out for signs that audience perceptions are beginning to

move in your direction.

In public relations we can usually speed things up by

employing additional communications tactics, AND

by increasing their frequencies.

So what IS the point of PR? You’ll know the answer to that

question when you place a workable blueprint in action

that helps you persuade those important outside audiences

to your way of thinking, then moves them to take actions

that lead to the success of your department, division or subsidiary.

What you will have done is sharpen your focus on the

very groups of outside people who play a major role in just

how successful a manager you will be – your key external



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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