Here’s a quick description of such a passport: a high- impact, public relations action plan which does something meaningful about the behaviors of those important audiences that most affect your business, non-profit, government agency or association.

It does so by creating the kind of external stakeholder behavior change that leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives; then persuades those key outside folks to your way of thinking by helping move them to take actions that allow your department, group, division or subsidiary to succeed.

When you need to move a message from here to there, communications tactics can do the job. But that’s pretty much all they can do. Caution: a preoccupation with tactics will certainly deny managers the best that public relations has to offer by diverting their primary attention from the very PR end-products discussed above.

The PR passport relies heavily on this underlying
premise: 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 usually accomplished.

Actually, the premise promises that good public relations planning really CAN alter individual perception and result in changed behaviors among key outside audiences. But the fact is, you’ll only get there when your PR demands more than news releases, special events and broadcast plugs. Only then will you receive the quality public relations results you deserve.

Let’s take a closer look at the sort of PR end-products you can expect. Capital givers or specifying sources begin to look your way; new prospects actually start to do business with you; politicians and legislators begin looking at you as a key member of the business, non-profit, government or association communities; welcome bounces in show room visits occur; community leaders begin to seek you out; new proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures start showing up; customers begin to make repeat purchases; and membership applications start to rise.

A good first step is to work closely with your public relations professionals on your new opinion monitoring project since they’re already in the perception and behavior business. However, insure that the PR staff actually accepts why it’s SO important to know how your most important outside audiences perceive your operations, products or services. Essentially, be certain they believe that perceptions almost always result in behaviors that can help or hurt your operation.

Reserve the time you need to review plans for monitoring and gathering perceptions by questioning members of your most important outside audiences.
Try out 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?
Are you familiar with our services or products and employees? Have you experienced problems with our people or procedures?

Be advised that the use of professional survey firms for the opinion gathering chore, probably will be more expensive than using your PR people in that monitoring capacity. But whether it’s your folks 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.

Your number one responsibility now is to establish a clearcut and realistic PR goal that calls for action on the most serious problem areas you uncovered during your key audience perception monitoring.
You may decide to stop that potentially painful rumor cold. Or straighten out that dangerous misconception? Or correct that gross inaccuracy?

Goal-setting, obviously, requires an equally action-oriented strategy that shows you the path to your new goal. Here, you have 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. Needless to say, the wrong strategy pick will taste like peach Jello in your lentil soup. So be sure your new strategy fits well with your new public relations goal. You certainly don’t want to select “change”
when the facts dictate a strategy of reinforcement.

Good writing, always at the core of any public relations activity, requires that the best writer on your team prepare a persuasive message that will help move your key audience to your way of thinking. It has to be a carefully-written message targeted directly at your key external audience.
Your writer must develop really corrective language that is not merely compelling, persuasive and believable, but clear and factual if it is  to shift perception/opinion towards your point of view and lead to the behaviors you have in mind.

Now you must identify 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 sure the tactics you select are known to reach folks just like your audience members.

Because the WAY in which you communicate makes the credibility of your message suspect, you may wish to unveil your corrective language through smaller meeting presentations rather than using higher-profile news releases.

To demonstrate results, you may elect to use periodic progress reports. Which will alert you to begin a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. You can 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.

Because in any human activity, things can always slow down, you can always increase momentum by adding more communications tactics and/or increasing their frequencies.

Thus, any passport to public relations success will require that you move beyond tactics, and be free to use the right PR to alter the perceptions of your most important outside audiences, leading directly to achieving your managerial objectives.

end

Bob Kelly counsels and writes for business, non-profit and association managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has published over 200 articles on the subject which are listed at EzineArticles.com, click Expert Author, click Robert A. Kelly. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, 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.
mailto:bobkelly@TNI.net      Visit:www.PRCommentary.com

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