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How About MANAGING Your Own PR?

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, ... offline ... or website. A copy would be ... at ... Word count is 995 ... guidel

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your
ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. A copy would
be appreciated at Word count is 995
including guidelines and resource box. Robert A. Kelly © 2003.

How About MANAGING Your Own PR?

It’s one thing for a senior manager to approve story angles
for the publicity folks to use in shopping around for print and
broadcast placements. Not an especially large amount of
managing needed there.

It’s quite another matter, however, when that senior manager,
with the best interests of his or her own department or unit in
mind, actually overlooks the reality that people act on their
own perception of the facts, leading to predictable behaviors
about which something can be done on his or her behalf. Then
compounds the error by failing to insist that the PR people
make a special effort to create, change or reinforce the
perceptions of those external audiences whose follow-on
behaviors really DO impact his or her unit.

That’s a bit of too bad because those two, core, public
relations functions require hands-on managerial cooperation
throughout the organization if it’s to get its money’s worth.
The two functions deserve first-class treatment because they
help each manager target the kind of stakeholder behavior
change that leads directly to achieving his or her objectives.

Pretty important stuff!

What it says to business, association and non-profit managers
is this: a key part of your job description is – or should be –
do everything you can to help your organization’s PR effort
as it strives to persuade important stakeholders to your way
of thinking. And particularly when the program works to move
those stakeholders to behaviors that lead to the success of
your department and your programs.

In your own best interest, that means assuring yourself that
your public relations program is actively MANAGED to
that end.

Has anybody to your knowledge sat down and listed those
external audiences whose behaviors could hurt your
unit badly? Then prioritized them according to the
impacts they have on your operation? This is a necessary
first step in creating the right public relations goal for you.
Here, in fact, is how public relations activity could proceed
on your behalf.

Let’s take a look at the audience at the top of your target
audience list. Because there could be negative perceptions
out there, some of your colleagues will have to interact with
members of that audience and ask a number of questions.
“Do you know anything about our organization? Have you
had any kind of contact with our people? Have you heard
anything good or bad about us or our services and products?”
Watch respondents closely for hesitant or evasive answers.
And stay alert for inaccuracies, rumors, untruths or mis-

The responses gathered by this kind of perception monitoring
among members of the target audience provides grist for your
public relations goal. Namely, the specific perception to be
altered, followed by the desired behavior change.

While the goal by itself isn’t of much use, with the right strategy,
the public relations program is off to a good start. Fortunately,
there are just three strategic choices for dealing with matters of
opinion and perception. You can create perception/opinion
where there may not be any, you can change existing opinion,
or you can reinforce it. An effort should be made to match the
strategy to the specific goal. For example, if you want to correct
a misconception, you need the strategy that changes existing
opinion, not one that reinforces it.

Now, some serious writing is needed. The corrective message to
be communicated to members of the target audience is an
opportunity to write something designed to change individual
opinion, and that’s a positive experience for any writer.

Clarity is first, followed closely by accuracy and believability.
Stick closely to the issue at hand – like an inaccurate belief, a
misconception or a dangerous rumor. A compelling tone is
useful because the message must alter what a lot of people
believe, and that is a big job. Tryout the message on some
colleagues for effectiveness.

With goal, strategy and message in hand, it’s time to call in the
“Beasts of Burden” – the communications tactics that will carry
that first-class message to the attention of members of the target
audience. Luckily, there are many, many such tactics ranging
from luncheons, news releases and personal contacts to print and
broadcast interviews, speeches, press releases and dozens of
others. Only requirement is that they have a proven track record
for reaching your target audience.

In short order, colleagues will inquire whether any progress is
being made in altering the offending perception or opinion. Ruling
out an expensive opinion survey, your best hope of assessing
progress is to return to the field and re-monitor the target public
member’s perception.

While you ask the same questions as in the initial monitoring
session, the difference now is you’re looking for evidence in
the responses that the offending perception is, indeed, being
altered. What you want to see and hear are signs that percep-
tions are actually moving in your direction because, then, you
know that positive behaviors cannot be far behind.

By the way, you can always move things along at a faster clip
by adding a few more communications tactics, and even
increase their frequencies. Your message should also be re-
vetted again to double-check its clarity and factual accuracyScience Articles,

One way to persuade your operation or department’s key
stakeholders to your way of thinking – and move them to
behaviors that lead to the success of your organization – is
to insure that the public relations effort on your behalf is
actively managed along such lines every step of the way.


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Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to general management
personnel about the fundamental premise of public relations.
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. Visit:

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