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PR: Let's Talk Fundamentals

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, ... offline ... or website. A copy would be ... at ... Word count is 840 ... 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 840
including guidelines and resource box. Robert A. Kelly © 2003.

PR: Letís Talk Fundamentals

How much more fundamental can you get than this? As a
business, non-profit or association manager, if you donít
get your most important outside audiences on your side,
you will fail.

To me, failure means key target audiences that donít
behave as you want them to. For example, capital donors
or specifying sources who look the other way, customers
who fail to make repeat purchases, community leaders
working closely with your competitors, prospects still
doing business with others, organizations looking
elsewhere to propose new strategic alliances and joint
ventures, and even legislators and political leaders
overlooking you as a key member of the non-profit,
association or business communities.

All that can change in a New York minute when you
base a public relations effort on this simple premise:
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 those people whose
behaviors affect the organization, the public relations
mission is accomplished.

The primary benefit of that premise to you as a business,
non-profit or association manager is the kind of key
stakeholder behavior change that leads directly to
achieving your objectives.

And thatís very doable. Especially when you take the
time to list your most important external audiences,
then prioritize them according to the impacts they have
on your organization.

The real key to success using this premise is actually
gathering information as to how members of your key,
external audience perceive your organization.

If you have the resources available and can afford
professional survey help, fine. If, however, like most
of us you donít, the best alternative is for you or your
colleagues to begin interacting with audience members.
Ask many questions starting with, ďHave you heard of
us? What do you think of us, if at all? Have you ever
done business with us? Why do you feel the way you do?Ē

Listen carefully for signs of negativity, and watch for
untruths, false assumptions, inaccuracies, misconceptions
or flagrant rumors.

Obviously, the data you gather from this monitoring
activity form the basis of your public relations goal.
For example, correct that untruth or inaccuracy, clear up
that misconception, or spike that rumor.

Now here, you encounter three forks in the road.

You need a strategy to show you how to get where you
need to go. But only three choices are available to you
when dealing with matters of perception and opinion:
create perception where there may be none, change
existing perception, or reinforce it. And make certain the
strategy option you choose flows naturally from your
new public relations goal.

Itís writing time Ė hard work preparing the actual message
designed to alter peopleís perceptions leading, hopefully,
to the behaviors you need to help achieve your objectives.

The corrective message is crucial. It must be clear about
just what perception needs clarifying, and why. Your facts,
of course, must be truthful, logical and believable in order
to be persuasive. And the tone of the message should be
compelling if it is to command attention and alter perception.

Next step is easy. Pick your Ēbeasts of burden,Ē the
communications tactics you will use to carry that brand
new, corrective message to members of your target audience.

You have a very long list of such tactics at your disposal.
The only caveat is, make sure each one shows a proven
record for reaching people like those who make up your
specific target audience.

Tactics range from electronic magazines (called eZines!),
speeches, brochures and emails to radio/newspaper
interviews, press releases, newsletters, facility tours and
so many more.

Shortly, you will start to wonder if you are making any
progress. And that means a second round of Q&A with
members of your target audience. Same questions as before,
by the way, only now your focus is on signs that their
perception has been altered to reflect that described in your
carefully prepared message.

You can always speed up the effort by introducing new
communications tactics, and by increasing their frequencies.
Also, not a bad idea to check that message of yours one
more time for both factual accuracy, and for how successful
it was at actually impacting opinion.

Clearly, as a business, non-profit or association managerHealth Fitness Articles,
you benefit most when your public relations program
succeeds in creating the kind of key stakeholder behavior
change that leads directly to achieving your objectives.


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Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to business, non-profit
and association managers 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.

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