Perhaps You SHOULD Be Concerned About Your Public Relations!

Particularly if your public relations budget is entirely devoted to tactics such as brochures, special events, media relations, and press releases.

Please do not misunderstand. Communications tactics are valuable tools that we occasionally use to get a message from here to there.

However, as a business, non-profit, or association manager, you can overlook the best of public relations, the crème de la crème of public relations!

Consider trying this on for size. The core public relations mission unites the resources and action planning necessary to alter individual perceptions, resulting in changed behaviors, among a business’s, non- profit’s, or association’s most influential external audiences. Then it assists a manager in persuading those key individuals to adopt his or her way of thinking and then motivates them to take actions that ensure the success of their department, group, division, or subsidiary.

Now, there is a real theory that underpins that mission, and it is the underlying premise of public relations: People act according to their own perceptions of the facts in front of them, which results in predictable behaviors that can be changed. The public relations mission is typically accomplished when we create, change, or reinforce that opinion by reaching out to, persuading, and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors have the greatest impact on the organization.

It is reassuring to know that effective public relations planning CAN ACTUALLY CHANGE PERCEPTION AND CHANGE BEHAVIOR AMONG KEY OUTSIDE AUDIENCES.

AND equally encouraging when you consider that your public relations effort must encompass more than special events, press releases, and talk show tactics if you are to achieve the high-quality results you believe you deserve.

And those results will come quickly, especially as capital providers or specifying sources begin to look your way; customer repeat purchases increase; membership applications increase; new proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures begin to surface; politicians and legislators begin to view you as a critical member of the business, non-profit, or association communities; welcome bounces in show room visits occur; and community leaders begin to seek you out.

Assistance is available, as the public relations professionals assigned to you can be extremely beneficial for your new opinion monitoring project, as they are already familiar with perception and behavior. However, ensure that the public relations staff understands why it is critical to understand how your most important external audiences perceive your operations, products, or services. Above all, instill in them the belief that perceptions almost always result in behaviors that can either benefit or harm your operation.

Plan for your public relations staff’s monitoring and perception gathering efforts by interviewing members of your most important external audiences. Consider the following: how much do you know about our organization? Have you previously communicated with us and were you satisfied with the exchange? Are you familiar with our services or products, as well as the people who work for us? Have you encountered issues with our personnel or procedures?

Bringing in survey firms to conduct opinion gathering can be significantly more expensive than using your public relations staff in that monitoring capacity. However, whether your employees or a survey firm ask the questions, the objective is the same: to uncover untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, and misconceptions, as well as any other negative perceptions that may translate into harmful behaviors.

Here, you must establish a goal aimed at resolving the most serious issues identified during your key audience perception monitoring. Will it be to dispel that pernicious misunderstanding? How about correcting that glaring inaccuracy? Or, alternatively, put an end to that potentially painful rumor?

Naturally, a goal requires a strategy outlining the steps necessary to accomplish it. When it comes to resolving perception and opinion issues, you have only three strategic options. Change pre-existing perceptions, create new ones where none exist, or reinforce existing ones. The incorrect strategy selection will resemble spare ribs with lemon sauce. Therefore, ensure that your new strategy aligns with your new public relations objective. You certainly do not want to choose “change” when the facts dictate a reinforcement strategy.

Now it is up to your people to produce some quality writing. You must craft a persuasive message that will persuade your target audience to adopt your point of view. It must be a well-crafted message directed squarely at your target external audience. Choose your best writer because s/he must create language that is not only compelling, persuasive, and credible, but also clear and factual if it is to shift perception/opinion in your direction and result in the behaviors you desire.

It is time to choose the communications tactics that are most likely to bring your message to your target audience’s attention. Numerous opportunities await you. From speeches, facility tours, emails, and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, and personal meetings, there are a variety of ways to communicate. However, ensure that the tactics you choose are well-known for reaching people who are similar to your audience members.

The manner in which you communicate your message is critical, as the credibility of any message is always precarious. Which is why, rather than using high-profile news releases, you may wish to unveil your corrective message prior to smaller meetings and presentations.

If the idea of a progress report appeals to you, you must initiate a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience to track progress. You can reuse a large number of the questions from your benchmark session. However, this time, you will be on the lookout for signs that the perception of bad news is being shifted in your favor.

If the program begins to lag, you can always accelerate it by adding additional communication tactics and increasing their frequency.

Worry, on the other hand, can be beneficial. Particularly when it shifts your focus away from a heavy emphasis on communications tactics and toward a strategy for positively influencing the behaviors of your most influential external audiences. And this is especially true when you persuade those critical external stakeholders to your way of thinking by assisting them in taking actions that enable your department, division, or subsidiary to succeed.