You’ve Done PR the Hard Way Long Enough

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Robert A. Kelly © 2005.

You’ve Done PR the Hard Way Long Enough

As a business, non-profit or association manager, let the

tacticians handle the special events, brochures and press

releases from now on.

You have better things to do.

Like demanding the real results you’re entitled to, and for

which you’ve paid good money! Results, that is, that will

come about when you do something positive about the

behaviors of those important external audiences of yours

that most affect your operation. In particular, when

you persuade those key outside folks to your way of

thinking, then help move them to take actions that allow

your department, division or subsidiary to succeed.

In other words, good public relations can alter individual

perception and lead to changed behaviors among key outside

audiences. And that can help business, non-profit and

association managers like you, achieve their managerial


How do I know? Because 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


Luckily, here’s what can materialize from this approach:

prospects starting to work with you; capital givers or

specifying sources beginning to look your way; welcome

bounces in show room visits; membership applications on the

rise; customers starting to make repeat purchases; fresh

proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures; community

leaders beginning to seek you out, and even politicians and

legislators starting to view you as a key member of the business,

non-profit or association communities.

Clearly, your first priority will be involving your public relations

people by getting them on board this particular approach to PR.

They must buy into why it’s so important to know how your

outside audiences perceive your operations, products or

services. Be especially certain they accept the reality that

negative perceptions almost always lead to behaviors that can

damage your organization.

Take the time necessary to lay out how you will monitor and

gather perceptions by questioning members of your most important

outside audiences. 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?

Take comfort from the fact that your PR people are already

in the perception and behavior business and can be of real

use for the initial opinion monitoring project. Professional

survey firms are always available, of course, but that can

be a budget buster. But, whether it’s your people or a

survey firm who handles the questioning, the objective is

to identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors,

inaccuracies, and misconceptions.

Now, you identify which of the problems outlined above

becomes your corrective public relations goal – clarify the

misconception, spike that rumor, correct the false

assumption or fix a variety of other possible inaccuracies?

The truth of the matter is, you can meet that goal only

when you select the right strategy from the three choices

available to you. Change existing perception, create

perception where there may be none, or reinforce it.

Picking the wrong strategy is about as cool as using cajun

spices in your Tiramasu! So please be certain the new

strategy fits comfortably with your new public relations

goal. You wouldn’t want to select “change” when the

facts dictate a “reinforce” strategy.

Some regard this as the toughest part of the job — create

a persuasive message aimed at members of your target

audience. Yes, it’s always a challenge to put together

action-forcing language that will help persuade any

audience to your way of thinking.

And so, since s/he must create that very special, corrective

language, be certain you have your best writer on the

assignment. You need 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 desire.

From here on in, things get easier. For example, identify the communications tactics you need to carry your message to

the attention of your target audience. Insuring 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.

Stay alert to the fact that the credibility of the message can be

dependent on the credibility of its delivery method. Which

means you may wish to deliver it in small getogether-like

meetings and presentations rather than through a higher-

profile media announcement.

When you receive requests for progress reports, consider

yourself alerted to the need for you and your PR team to

undertake a second perception monitoring session with

members of your external audience. You’ll want to use

many of the same questions used in the first benchmark

session. But now, you will be watching very carefully for

signs that the bad news perception is being altered in your


Don’t fret if things seem to be slowing down. Your PR

program usually can be accelerated by adding more

communications tactics as well as increasing their


When all is said and done, the bottom line is, this workable

public relations blueprint will help you persuade your most

important outside stakeholders to your way of thinking, then

move them to behave in a way that leads to the success of

your department, division or subsidiary.

So, stop doing public relations the hard way.

The public relations rules that will best serve any business,

non-profit or association manager, read this way: the people

you deal with do, in fact, behave like everyone else – they

act upon their perceptions of the facts they hear about you

and your operation. Strongly suggesting that you deal

promptly and effectively with those perceptions by doing

what is necessary to reach and move your key external

audiences to actions you desire.


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