Managers Who Spend PR $$ Wisely

Dec 22 22:00 2003 Robert A. Kelly Print This Article

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

Managers Who Spend PR $$ Wisely

If you are a department, division or subsidiary manager,
your budget is a precious possession whether you work
for a business, a non-profit or an association. So why
stand by while your public relations team spends too
much time and treasure on tactics like press releases,
column mentions and brochures? Especially when you
could be using an aggressive PR blueprint to persuade
your most important outside audiences to your way of
thinking, then move them to take actions that lead to
your success?

The good news is, that aggressive blueprint shines the
PR spotlight directly on those outside groups of people
who have a large say in how successful you’re going to
be – namely, on your key external target audiences. It
reads this way: 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.

Look at the kinds of behaviors that are possible using such
a blueprint. A big jump up in capital contributions,
increased membership queries, new prospects showing up,
more current buying and even repeat purchases occurring,
and even new proposals for joint ventures.

Spending your PR $$ wisely implies that you are getting
serious about your public relations by changing the
emphasis from communications tactics to a workable plan
for reaching those outside groups of people with a large say
about how successful you will be. I refer, of course, to those
key external target audiences of yours.

What do they think of you, anyway? Ask your PR staff why
they believe that’s important to you? Hopefully, they’ll agree
that target audience perceptions usually do lead to behaviors
that can help or hinder you in achieving your operating
objectives. In other words, is your PR team guided by solid
fundamentals rather than mechanics like special events and
communications tactics?

Next, decide together, then prioritize exactly which external
audiences have the most impact on your operation, and let’s
do some work on the audience at the top of that list.

Since you must monitor perceptions by interacting with
members of that audience, you can elect to join your PR
folks as they ask some penetrating questions: “Do you know
anything about us? How do you feel about our services
and/or products? Have you had any contact with our people?
Did it work out to your satisfaction?”

Remember that you can also employ a professional survey
firm to interact with members of your target audience. Only
drawback here is the considerable cost involved in taking
this route versus using your own PR folks who, as we know,
are already in the perception and behavior business.

Either way, while the perception monitoring effort is
proceeding, all questioners must stay alert to misconceptions
about your unit, as well as inaccuracies, exaggerations, rumors
or false assumptions. And keep an eye out for evasive and
hesitant responses to your queries.

Once all the answers are in-hand, you’re ready to establish
your public relations goal, thus fixing what needs correcting
the most. And that may well be to clear up a potentially
damaging misconception, shoot down a hurtful rumor, or
clarify that misleading exaggeration.

Now, how do you reach that new goal? The right strategy is
what you need and that means one of these: create perception
where there may be none at all, change that offensive
opinion/perception, or reinforce an existing perception. But
make sure the strategy you pick fits naturally with your PR
goal.

You still need a message that will correct/alter the negative
perception turned up during your monitoring activity among
members of your target audience. It must be a compelling
message, one that is completely believable and one that
explains why the offending perception is either untrue or
unfair. The message must be clearly presented because you
want to alter what people believe in a way that leads to the
target audience behaviors you need to achieve your unit
objectives.

Fortunately, delivering the message to those who need to hear
it and read it is a simple matter. You have a real variety of
communications tactics to help you from speeches, luncheon
presentations, media interviews and emails to newsletters,
facility tours, brochures and electronic magazines. Just be
certain the tactics you use have a good record of reaching
people similar to those who make up your target audience.
So as not to call too much attention to the original misperception,
your PR team may wish to deliver the corrective message as part
of various presentations to target audience members rather than
risk a high profile, news release transmission.

Now, to demonstrate program progress, you and your team
must once again monitor perceptions among your target
audience watching carefully for indications that your message
and tactics have moved those perceptions towards your views.

Of course, to speed up the process, you can always add new
communications tactics to the mix and increase their frequencies.

Finally, at this point you should be reassured that your new
public relations effort has (1) persuaded your most important
outside audiences to your way of thinking, (2) moved them to
take actions leading to your success, thus (3) helping achieve
your department, division or subsidiary objectives.

end

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About Article Author

Robert A. Kelly
Robert A. Kelly

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. mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

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