PR Buyers Beware!

May 16 21:00 2003 Robert A. Kelly Print This Article

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, ... offline ... or website. A copy would be ... at ... Net word count is 765 ... gu

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 Net word count is 765
including guidelines and resource box. Robert A. Kelly © 2003.

PR Buyers Beware!

It can bite you and waste your public relations budget when the
program emphasizes communications tactics instead of how to
make certain your key outside audiences understand who and
what you are.

Especially sad when tactics are placed in motion before you
really know how your key target audience views your organization,
and exactly at whom those tactics should be directed. Things can
really fall apart if you then fail to decide up front what changes in
perceptions, and thus behaviors you desire at the end of the program.

That’s no way to structure a public relations program.

Instead, before pulling any triggers, ask one big question. Who is
my #1 public relations target? Focus on that certain outside audience
that you know affects your organization more than any other.
It makes sense because that particular external “public” probably
will have a big say about the survival of your organization.

Keep in mind that your other external audiences will need similar
care and feeding as you move forward.

So, with your target in sight, you need to interact with members of
that key audience and get inside their heads. What, if anything, do
they think about you and your organization? As you talk to them,
do negative feelings or observations come to the surface? Why?
What appears to need correction? Are there inaccuracies?
Misconceptions? For that matter, is there a dangerous rumor loose
out there that badly needs neutralizing?

The answers are solid gold because they let you form a public
relations goal which, when achieved, corrects what’s wrong. Your
goal could be to knock down that rumor, clarify that misconception,
or correct that inaccuracy.

In setting your goal, stay alert to the fact that altering the perceptions
of that target audience recognizes that perceptions almost always
lead to predictable behaviors that can either hurt or help you achieve
your objectives.

Now you need a roadmap that tells you how to get to that goal. In
other words, a strategy. In dealing with personal opinion, we only
have three strategic choices. Create, change or reinforce that
perception, i.e., that opinion.

Which of the three strategies you employ is dictated by, and flows
naturally from your public relations goal.

Now, the toughest part of the public relations problem solving
sequence is formulating what you are going to say to your #1
target audience.

Your message must be very clear as to what needs clarifying,
correcting or rebuttal. It should, no, MUST be persuasive and
believable as well as direct and candid as possible. Make it as
compelling as can be. And to help prevent further misunder-
standing, give your message draft a trial run before two or three
members of your target audience, and adjust as needed.

Here comes the fun part – deciding which communications
tactics will best carry that super message of yours to the right
eyes and ears among your target audience.

There are scores of such tactics available to you including, for
example, newspaper interviews, face-to-face meetings, press
releases, special events, speeches and many, many more.

This is where we hear groans when we point out that you must
once again monitor what members of your key target audience
are perceiving about your organization. The reason, of course,
is to determine if your public relations program is making
any progress.

Same questions the second time around. But now, you want to
see if all those communications tactics succeeded in moving key
audience perception in your direction.

If not far enough, you may have to increase the frequency and
mix of your tactics. And you may need to take another look at
your message reassessing its content for believability and impact.

The test for public relations success will turn on whether you
actually altered enough perceptions, and their follow on behaviors,
in your direction.

In which case, you will have insured that your most important
outside audiences understand who and what you are. And that
strongly suggests that your organization is well on its way to
achieving its operating objectives.


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About Article Author

Robert A. Kelly
Robert A. Kelly

Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks 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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