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If I Were Coaching You

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, ... offline ... or website. A copy would be ... at ... Word count is 1220 ... guide

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box
in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website.
A copy would be appreciated at bobkelly@TNI.net.
Word count is 1220 including guidelines and resource box.
Robert A. Kelly © 2004.

If I Were Coaching You…

If I were coaching you as a business, non-profit or
association manager on how to get the biggest bang
for your public relations dollar, I would sum it up for
you this way.

Use the fundamental premise of public relations to
produce external stakeholder behavior change – the
kind that leads directly to achieving your managerial
objectives. Usually, that outside behavior change can
be created in the financial, marketing, crisis resolution,
reputation management and other sectors of the public
relations discipline.

Thus, you do something positive about the behaviors of
those outside audiences that MOST affect your
organization. And you do so by persuading those
important external folks to your way of thinking, then
move them to take actions that help your department,
division or subsidiary succeed.

The reality is, your public relations effort must involve
more than press releases, brochures and special events
if you expect to get your money’s worth.

And that’s what the fundamental premise of public
relations really says when it points out that 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.

Happily, this kind of public relations approach can
deliver results like capital givers or specifying sources
looking your way; enhanced activist group relations;
expanded feedback channels; new proposals for strategic
alliances and joint ventures; community service and
sponsorship opportunities; rebounds in showroom visits,
membership applications on the rise; not to mention new
thoughtleader and special event contacts.

You could easily see improved relations with government
agencies and legislative bodies; prospects starting to work
with you; customers making repeat purchases; promotional
contest overtures, and even stronger relationships with the
educational, labor, financial and healthcare communities.

Still, the question remains, who makes the blueprint really
work? Will your workers be regular public relations staff?
Or people sent to you by a parent entity? Or possibly a PR
agency crew? Regardless of where they come from, they
must be committed to you as the senior project manager,
to the PR blueprint and its implementation, starting with
target audience perception monitoring.

Now, simply because a PR person describes him/herself
as a public relations specialist doesn’t mean they’ve bought
into the whole program. Convince yourself that your team
members really believe deeply why it’s SO important to
know how your most important outside audiences perceive
your operations, products or services. Be certain they buy
the reality that perceptions almost always lead to behaviors
that can help or hurt your unit.

Pore over the PR blueprint with your PR team, especially
your plan for monitoring and gathering 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
interchange? Have you experienced problems with our
people or procedures?

You can always invite professional survey counsel to handle
the perception monitoring phases of your program, if the
budget is available. But remember that 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.

Here, you need a public relations goal to shoot for as you
address the aberrations that cropped up during your key
audience perception monitoring. And that goal could be to
straighten out that dangerous misconception, or correct that
gross inaccuracy, or stop that potentially fatal rumor dead
in its tracks.

Of course what is a goal without a strategy to show you
how to get there? Fortunately, there are only three strategic
options available to you when it comes to handling a
perception or opinion challenge. Change existing perception,
create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it.
The wrong strategy pick will taste like hot tea with too many
teabags, so be certain the new strategy fits well with your
new public relations goal. You wouldn’t want to select
“change” when the facts dictate a “reinforce” strategy.

Keep in mind that members of your target audience will
likely react to a powerful message. Still, persuading an
audience to your way of thinking is hard work. Which
is why your PR folks must create some very special,
corrective language. Words that are not only compelling,
persuasive and believable, but clear and factual. Only in
this way will you be able to correct a perception by shifting
opinion towards your point of view, leading to the behaviors
you are targeting.

Let your communications specialists review your message
for impact and persuasiveness. Then, sharpen it before
selecting the communications tactics most likely to carry
your words to the attention of your target audience. You
can pick from dozens that are available. From speeches,
facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings,
media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many
others. But be sure that the tactics you pick are known to
reach folks just like your audience members.

It’s wise to respect the fact that the credibility of a message
can depend on its delivery method. So you might consider
unveiling it in presentations before smaller gatherings rather
than using higher-profile tactics such as news releases.

Finally, please recognize that people love progress reports, a
fact that will alert you and your PR team to get back out in
the field and start work on a second perception monitoring
session with members of your external audience. You’ll want
to use many of the same questions used in the first benchmark
session. Only this time, you’ll be watching very carefully
for signs that the bad news perception is being altered in your
direction.

Here’s a tip for those among us who are impatient. If things
aren’t moving fast enough for you, try increasing the beat
with more communications tactics and increased frequencies.

Yes, if I were coaching you as a manager on how to get your
public relations’ money’s worth, I would ask only that you
internalize a single reality, then build from there, as outlined
above.

By all means worry about the behaviors of those key external
audiences that most affect your organization, and you as a
manager. Then do something positive about them by persuading
those key folks to your way of thinkingFree Reprint Articles, moving them to take
actions that help you achieve your managerial objectives.

end

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