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Sound Like Your Situation?
by Robert A. Kelly
What a shame! Potentially productive public relations people
resting on their oars in a large organization. Just kind of
tinkering with tactics and leaving target audience perceptions
(and behaviors) to pretty much do their own thing.
Big pain on the way!
Unattended, key public perceptions can morph into painful
behaviors that hurt the organization.
Just plain shouldnt happen.
In military-speak, all it takes is some ongoing intel.
First, insist that that potentially productive public relations
team get busy by prioritizing your most important audiences.
They cant work on everything at once. So for starters, they
can identify that really key target audience.
Then monitor perceptions by interacting with some folks who
make up that audience, and do it on a regular basis. Same with
other important external publics, when time allows.
Whats on their minds? Any negative feelings? See or hear
anything that needs correcting? Is there a problem on the
horizon that may come your way?
The answers to those questions help your crew form the public
relations goal altered perceptions leading to altered behaviors.
For example, correct the impression that you sell shoddy
merchandise; or a perception that you favor one particular
ethnic group; or a belief that your services arent worth the
price you charge.
Setting the public relations goal lets your public relations
team focus on which strategy they want to employ to reach
Theres not a big choice. In fact, just three are available.
They can choose between creating perceptions (opinions)
when none exist, or changing existing opinion, or reinforcing it.
But their ammo will be the persuasive messages they
prepare for communication to that key target audience.
Messages designed to affect perceptions in a way that leads
to the behaviors you desire.
The message must outline what the problem is and what
some members of that target audience believe. Then it must
clearly set down the truth of the matter omitting any
exaggeration or hype. In other words, it must be believable,
credible and especially persuasive and compelling.
Enter beasts of burden, the communications tactics your
people will use to move your message to the attention of
members of your key, target audience.
There is a vast array of communications tactics from which
your public relations people can choose. They include
everything from face-to-face meetings, emailings, op-eds and
news releases to special events, speeches, trade show
appearances and town hall meetings.
Wait a minute, not so fast! How will your public relations
team measure progress? Best way is to put on the monitor
hats again and fan out among members of the target audience.
Using the persuasive message as a guide, are respondents
aware of the message? If so, what is their reaction to it?
Does your crew find evidence that prior opinion (perception)
has moved in your direction? If so, to what extent? Was the create/change/reinforce strategy choice correct, or must it be
adjusted? Are refinements in the message in order, meaning
there is still considerable work to be done?
Obviously, the problem solving sequence must be carefully
retuned as progress is made in order to keep it on target
alter perception, change behavior, and achieve not only the
desired, but successful public relations result.
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
EzineArticles.com, click Expert Authors, 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.