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The Most Important PR In America

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, ... offline ... or website. A copy would be ... at ... Word count is 1125 ... 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
Word count is 1125 including guidelines and resource box.
Robert A. Kelly © 2004.

The Most Important PR In America

Just happens to be public relations activity that alters
individual perceptions leading directly to changed
behaviors. PR pulls that off by persuading a manager’s
key outside audiences with the greatest behavior impacts
on the organization, to its way of thinking. Then it moves
those external stakeholders to take actions that help the
organization succeed.

I don’t believe public relations can deliver much more
than that.

Not surprisingly, PR runs best on its own fundamental
premise that gets everyone working towards the same
external audience behaviors. Insuring that your PR
effort stays focused, the blueprint goes like this: 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.

Results can range from community leaders beginning to seek
you out, welcome bounces in show room visits and
specifying sources looking your way to prospects starting to
do business with you, customers making repeat purchases,
and even fresh proposals for strategic alliances and joint

If, as a manager, that scenario appeals to you, try this path.

First, who handles the work required to produce such results?
Your own full-time public relations staff? Some people
assigned by the corporate office to your unit? An outside
PR agency team? No matter where they come from, they
need to be committed to you, to the PR blueprint and to
its implementation, starting with key audience perception

It’s useful to make certain the public relations people assigned
to your unit really believe – deep down – why it’s SO
important to know how your most important outside audiences
perceive your operations, products or services. Make sure
they accept the reality that perceptions almost always lead to
behaviors that can help or hurt your unit.

Working closely with the PR folks, start by nailing down
who among your important outside audiences is behaving
in ways that help or hinder the achievement of your objectives.
Then, list them according to how severely their behaviors
affect your organization.

Now, take steps to find out precisely HOW most
members of that key outside audience perceive your
organization. If you don’t have the budget to pay
for what could be costly professional survey counsel,
you and your PR colleagues will have to monitor those
perceptions yourself. Actually, they should be quite
familiar with perception and behavior matters.

Best way to get that activity under way is to meet with
members of that outside audience and ask questions like
“Are you familiar with our services or products?” “Have
you ever had contact with anyone from our organization?
Was it a satisfactory experience?” Be sensitive to negative
statements, especially evasive or hesitant replies. And
watch carefully for false assumptions, untruths,
misconceptions, inaccuracies and potentially damaging
rumors. When you find such, they will need to be
corrected, as they usually lead to negative behaviors.

Now, it’s time to select the actual perception to be altered,
which then becomes your public relations goal. Naturally,
you want to correct any untruths, inaccuracies,
misconceptions or false assumptions.

Kind of goes without saying that a PR goal without a
strategy to show you how to get there, is like a sailor’s
sandwich without the knockwurst. As you select one of
three strategies especially constructed to create perception
or opinion where there may be none, or change existing
perception, or reinforce it, what you want to do is insure
that the goal and your new strategy dovetail. You don’t
want to pick “change existing perception” when current
perception is just right suggesting a “reinforce” strategy.

At this juncture, you create a compelling message
carefully structured to alter your key target audience’s
perception, as directed by your public relations goal.

Your message must be a grabber and crystal-clear about
what perception needs clarification or correction, and why.
Of course you must be truthful and your position logically
explained and believable if it is to hold the attention of
members of that target audience, and actually move
perception in your direction.

Then try this. Combine your corrective message with another
news announcement or presentation which may provide
more credibility by downplaying the need for such a

Believe it or not, I call the communications tactics you
will use to move your message to the attention of that key
external audience, “beasts of burden” because they must
carry your persuasive new thoughts to the eyes and ears
of those important outside people.

You will be glad to know that a long list of such tactics
awaits your pleasure. It includes letters-to-the-editor,
brochures, press releases and speeches. Or, you might
choose radio and newspaper interviews, personal contacts,
facility tours or customer briefings. The only selection
requirement is that the communications tactics you choose
have a record of reaching people just like the members of
your key target audience.

A fortunate factor is, things can always be accelerated by
adding more communications tactics, AND by increasing
their frequencies.

Questions will soon arise with regard to progress. Of
course, you will already be hard at work remonitoring
perceptions among your target audience members to test
just how good your PR program really is. Using questions
similar to those used during your earlier monitoring session,
you’ll now be alert for signs that audience perceptions are
beginning to move in your general direction.

We are fortunate indeed that our key stakeholder audiences
behave like everyone else – they act upon their perceptions
of the facts they hear about you and your operation. Leaving
you little choice but to deal promptly and effectively with
those perceptions by doing what is necessary to reach and
move your key external audiences to actions you desire.

There’s never a happier moment in the practice of public
relations than when the data shows that you have achieved
the kind of key stakeholder behavior change that leads directly
to achieving your departmentArticle Submission, division or subsidiary objectives.


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Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. 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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