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Managers: Yes, You DO Need Public Relations

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Why? Because sooner or later, virtually all business, non-profit and association managers must alter individual perception leading to changed behaviors among their most important outside audiences.

And they must help persuade those external publics to their way of thinking, then move them to take actions that allow the manager’s department, group, division or subsidiary to succeed.

Yes, all managers really DO need public relations.

Which means, should you be such a manager, that you must do something positive about the behaviors of those important external audiences of yours that most affect YOUR operation.

Results can come quickly when business, non-profit or association managers use public relations to alter individual perception among their target publics, leading to changed behaviors which then helps to achieve their managerial objectives.

Fueling such an effort is the reality that 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 you decide to undertake such an effort, please keep in mind that your PR effort must demand more than special events, brochures and press releases if you are to achieve the quality public relations results you’re counting on.

No end of positive results can come your way. Capital givers or specifying sources begin to look your way; fresh proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures appear; politicians and legislators starting to view you as a key member of the business, non-profit or association communities; customers start to make repeat purchases; membership applications on the rise; welcome bounces in show room visits; prospects starting to do business with you; and community leaders beginning to seek you out. Your public relations staffers, who are already in the perception and behavior business, can be of real use for your new opinion monitoring project. But be certain that the PR staff really accepts why it’s SO important to know how your most important outside audiences perceive your operations, products or services. And make sure they really believe that perceptions almost always result in behaviors that can help or hurt your operation.

Meet with your PR folks and review with them your plans for monitoring and gathering perceptions by questioning members of your most important outside audiences. Questions along these lines: how much do you know about our organization? Have you had prior contact with us and were you pleased with the interchange? Are you familiar with our services or products and employees? Have you experienced problems with our people or procedures?

Measure the cost benefit of using those PR folks of yours in that monitoring capacity against the cost of using professional survey firms to do the opinion gathering work. You may find that using your public relations people is the better bargain. But, whether it’s your people or a survey firm asking the questions, the objective remains the same: identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, misconceptions and any other negative perception that might translate into hurtful behaviors.

At this juncture in the problem solving sequence, establish a goal calling for action on the most serious problem areas you uncovered during your key audience perception monitoring. Will it be to straighten out that dangerous misconception? Correct that gross inaccuracy? Or, stop that potentially painful rumor cold?

No one these days sets a goal without a supporting strategy to show them how to reach that goal. However, there are just three strategic options available to you when it comes to doing something about perception and opinion. Change existing perception, create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it. The wrong strategy pick will taste like butterscotch syrup on your fish sticks, so be sure your new strategy fits well with your new public relations goal. You wouldn’t want to select “change” when the facts dictate a strategy of reinforcement.

Here comes some real work. You must write a persuasive message that will help move your key audience to your way of thinking. It must be a carefully-written message targeted directly at your key external audience. Your very best writer will be needed because s/he must produce really corrective language. Words that are not merely 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.

Some view the next step as a wild and wacky part of the effort — selecting the communications tactics most likely to carry your message to the attention of your target audience. There are many available. From speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many others. But be certain that the tactics you pick are known to reach folks just like your audience members.

Fact is, HOW you communicate should also concern you since the credibility of any message is fragile and always up for grabs. Which is why you may wish to unveil your corrective message before smaller meetings and presentations rather than using higher-profile news releases.

The thought that a progress report may be needed usually pops up at about this point. Which means you and your PR team should view the notion as an alert to begin a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. You’ll want to use many of the same questions used in the benchmark session. But now, you will be on strict alert for signs that the bad news perception is being altered in your direction.

Of course, the reality that you can always speed things up by adding more communications tactics as well as increasing their frequencies, will be a source of comfort for you should program momentum slow.

So, it’s true. Sooner or later, virtually all business, non-profit and association managers must alter individual perception in a way that leads to changed behaviors among their most important outside audiences.

Which translates this way: managers really DO need public relations to achieve 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.
bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com

Managers: Yes, You DO Need Public Relations
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About Robert A. Kelly
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. bobkelly@TNI.net Visit:http://www.prcommentary.com WebProNews Writer
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