Move Key Audiences To Actions You Want
Move Key Audiences to Actions You Want
Try a blueprint like this: 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.
It seems worth the effort when you get results like 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
But winning business, non-profit and association managers
don?t pull it off by themselves. First, they find out who
among their important outside audiences is behaving in
ways that help or hinder the achievement of their objectives.
Then they list them according to how severely their
behaviors affect their organization.
Next they take steps to learn exactly how most members
of their key outside audience think about their organization.
And by the way, they make certain their entire PR team
buys into the crucial importance of knowing for sure how
their outside audiences perceive their operations, products
or services. And they dig deep to ensure they REALLY accept
the reality that perceptions almost always lead to behaviors
that can damage your operation.
When it?s time to activate the PR blueprint, 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?
Not so incidentally, 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 be a costly undertaking. But 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 .
Here, ask yourself which of the above aberations is serious
enough to 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?
Once you firmly set your public relations goal, 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. Especially important that your new strategy
naturally compliments your new public relations goal.
How will your message deal with the offending perception
when you address your key stakeholder audience to help
persuade them to your way of thinking?
Identify your best writing talent 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.
Now it?s time for rapid fire 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.
Of course, 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.
It will soon be time to show signs of progress. And that will
call for 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.
Of course you can always accelerate the program by adding
more communications tactics as well as increasing their
At day?s end, the managers to whom this is addressed also
know this essential truth: 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.
About the Author: 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.