Granddaddy because this public relations strategy
has always been true, and because it delivers to
business, non-profit, public entity and association
managers, the best value public relations has to offer.
Value in the form of doing something really
significant about those important outside audience
behaviors that MOST affect the department, group,
division or subsidiary unit you manage. Then letting
you take advantage of the perception levels you’ve
achieved as those key external audiences of yours
become persuaded to your managerial way of thinking.
What you end up with, of course, is public relations
activity that creates perception and behavior change
among your key outside audiences – behavior change
that leads directly to achieving your managerial
Here’s a blueprint outlining how to manage this kind
of public relations. 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 usually is
There should no longer be any doubt about whether
you’ll need a lot more than news releases, brochures,
special events and broadcast plugs to get a satisfactory
return on your PR investment. Among the results
business, non-profit, public entity and association
managers can expect from this kind of public relations
are new proposals for strategic alliances and joint
ventures; rebounds in showroom visits; membership
applications on the rise; community service and
sponsorship opportunities; enhanced activist group
relations, and expanded feedback channels, and even
new thoughtleader and special event contacts.
In due course, you should notice 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.
Because you want your key outside audiences to really
perceive your operations, products or services in a
positive light, be sure that you and your PR staff are
really on the same page in the hymn book.. Reassure
yourself that they accept the basic truth that perceptions
almost always lead to behaviors that can help or hurt
Review with your people 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?
Although somewhat expensive, you can always depend on
professional survey people to handle the perception
monitoring phases of your program. But fortunately,
your PR people are also in the perception and behavior
business and can pursue the same objective: identify
untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors,
inaccuracies, misconceptions and any other negative
perception that might translate into hurtful behaviors.
Setting your public relations goal requires that you
address the problems that appeared during your key
audience perception monitoring. It’s likely that your
new goal will call for straightening out that dangerous
misconception, or correcting that gross inaccuracy,
or doing something about that awful rumor.
To show you how to get there, you’ll need the right
strategy. And, luckily, you have three such strategy
choices when it comes to handling 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
grape salsa on your caviar, 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.
Since persuading an audience to your way of thinking
is hard labor, the way in which you put together your
corrective message is top priority. Especially when
you’re looking for language that is compelling,
persuasive, believable AND clear and factual. Yes, hard
work, 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
You want your communications tactics to carry your
words to the attention of your target audience, so you
need to select the precise tactics most likely to reach them.
Fortunately, you can pick from dozens of available tactics.
From speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to
consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, personal
meetings and many others. But be certain that the tactics
you pick are known to reach folks just like your audience
The credibility of your message can be dependent upon
HOW you deliver it. Which means you might try
introducing it to smaller gatherings rather than using
higher-profile communications such as news releases
or talk show appearances.
Shortly, you’ll need to produce a progress report, which
means you and your PR folks should get back out in the
field for a second perception monitoring session with
members of your external audience. Yes, 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.
By the way, things can always be accelerated with a
broader selection of communications tactics AND
Yes, I call this the “Granddaddy” of PR strategies because
human nature hasn’t changed over the millenia. People
have always acted upon their perceptions of the facts
they hear, see or read about an organization or person,
then behaved accordingly.
Thus, remember please, a single issue – for example, a
potentially dangerous, unattended perception among
a key audience, and its resulting behaviors, can spread
like wildfire nudging any operation closer to failure
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.
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