How PR Helps Fiercely Competitive Managers
Fiercely combative business, non-profit and association managers use every PR weapon they can lay their hands on. Which means they employ strategic, rapid-fire print and broadcast tactics every day of their business lives.
Still, many realize they need more than that to win the long-range battle. Fact is, they need a public relations budget that can deliver results far beyond publicity tactics.
The fierce and the smart know they need real behavior change among their most important outside audiences that leads directly to achieving their managerial objectives.
So they make sure they persuade those key outside folks with the greatest impacts on their organizations to their way of thinking, then move them to take actions that help their department, division or subsidiary succeed.
The really fierce use a public relations blueprint something like this one: 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.
If that’s you, over time your results probably look like these: fresh proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures; prospects starting to do business with you; welcome bounces in show room visits; membership applications on the rise; customers starting to make repeat purchases; community leaders beginning to seek you out; capital givers or specifying sources beginning to look your way, and even politicians and legislators starting to view you as a key member of the business, non-profit or association communities.
But the fierce ones don’t go it alone. They make certain every member of the PR team agrees that it’s crucially important to know how your outside audiences perceive your operations, products or services. Dig deep to ensure they REALLY accept the reality that perceptions almost always lead to behaviors that can damage your operation.
Now it’s time to activate the PR blueprint and monitor and gather perceptions by questioning members of your most important outside audience. Ask questions like these: how much do you know about our organization? Have you had prior contact with us and were you pleased with the interchange? How much do you know about our services or products and employees? Have you experienced problems with our people or procedures?
Lucky for all of us, your PR folks are already in the perception and behavior business, so they can be of real use for this opinion monitoring project. Professional survey firms can be brought in to handle the opinion monitoring chore, but that can cost you a lot of money. So whether it’s your people or a survey firm who asks the questions, your objective is to identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, and misconceptions .
Which of the above abberations is serious enough that it should become your corrective public relations goal? Clarify the misconception? Spike that rumor? Correct the false assumption? Fix those inaccuracies? Or yet another offensive perception that could lead to negative results?
With your public relations goal established, you can assure you’ll achieve it by picking the right strategy from the three choices available to you. Change existing perception, create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it. But be sure your new strategy naturally compliments your new public relations goal.
So what will your message emphasize when you address your key stakeholder audience to help persuade them to your way of thinking?
Select your best writer to prepare the message because s/he must put together some very special, corrective language. Words that are not only compelling, persuasive and believable, but clear and factual if they are to shift perception/opinion towards your point of view and lead to the behaviors you have in mind.
Happily, the next step is easy. You select communications tactics to carry your message to the attention of your target audience. Making certain that the tactics you select have a record of reaching folks like your audience members, 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.
Keep in mind that HOW one communicates often affects the credibility of the message, so you may wish to deliver it in small getogethers like meetings and presentations rather than through a higher-profile media announcement.
You’ll soon feel pressure for signs of progress. And that will lead to a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. Employing many of the same questions used in the first benchmark session, you will now be watching carefully for signs that the offending perception is being altered in your direction.
Remember that you can always accelerate the program by adding more communications tactics as well as increasing their frequencies.
This bears repeating – yes, fiercely combative business, non-profit and association managers use every PR weapon they can lay their hands on, and that includes strategic, rapid-fire print and broadcast tactics.
But those same competitive managers also know they need an aggressive blueprint such as this one that will deliver behavior change among their most important outside audiences leading directly to achieving their managerial objectives.
Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to business, non-profit and
association 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 communi-
cations, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press
secretary, The White House. He holds a bachelor of science degree
from Columbia University, major in public relations.