PR Failure Defined

I define public relations failure this way:

  • key audience perceptions are not monitored

  • a realistic, corrective goal is not set

  • an improper, or no real strategy is selected

  • a persuasive, compelling message is not prepared

  • communications tactics are selected mostly by hunch

  • and no follow-through perception monitoring is done to determine progress.

Failure insured! Similar, in fact, to the artillery commander who tells his gunners to point their cannons in any direction and fire them when they feel like it!

No plan, no results!

Why not deal this way with those external target audiences whose behaviors really have an impact on your organization?

Who are they? List them in order of their impact on your operation. And let's concentrate here on #1.

What do you really know about how they perceive your operation? This is vital, of course, because perceptions almost always lead to predictable behaviors. That's why it's so important that you get this step right.

Fact is, you must interact with members of this target audience and question them carefully. What do they think of you and your organization? Do you detect negative undercurrents? Are you surprised by certain inaccuracies or misconceptions? Has a rumor crept in to their consciousness to do its dirty work?

The answers prepare you for establishing the corrective public relations goal. For example, straighten out that wrong impression. Or fix that misconception. Or correct that unfortunate inaccuracy. Rumors, of course, need immediate attention to neutralize them in the minds of target audience members.

With your goal all set, what is your strategy for achieving it? This one is a time-saver because there are only three strategies designed to deal with this situation: create opinion (perceptions) where none may exist; or change existing opinion; or reinforce it. Your goal will point you toward the proper choice.

Now here is the real challenge ? preparing the message you will send to members of your target audience.

To be persuasive, it must be believable, clearly presented and compelling. Ideally it should deal with the most important problem you wish to correct so as not to divide the reader's attention. For example, an inaccuracy, misconception or damaging rumor. Of course, your message must use supporting facts and figures that have been carefully checked for accuracy.

Recapping, you have now monitored and evaluated opinion among your target audience to determine the extent of any problems, you have set your corrective public relations goal and strategy, and you have prepared an impactful and corrective message.

How will you effectively deliver that message to members of that important outside audience? The answer lies in communications tactics, which some refer to as "beasts of burden" because they will carry your message to the right eyes and ears.

There are scores of tactics awaiting your pleasure. For instance, you can use newsletters, special events, press releases or open houses. You might also consider face-to- face-meetings, radio and newspaper interviews, speeches or emails. The key consideration is that a communications tactic be targeted specifically at the members of your #1 external audience.

Sooner rather than later, you will wonder if your public relations effort is making any progress towards your goal.

And that will require that you put on your opinion monitoring hat and go talk to members of your target audience once again.

As them the same questions you used in your earlier information gathering exercise. Only this time, stay alert for answers that indicate perceptions are changing in your direction. Of course, this means that, before long, behaviors should be changing as well.

And that is the test for public relations success: perceptions altered and behaviors modified as called for in your plan.

When all is said and done, what you will have is an important outside audience more accurately informed about your organization and, thus, more likely to behave in ways that help you achieve your objectives.

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. A copy would be appreciated at [email protected].

Robert A. Kelly © 2003

About The Author

Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks about the fundamental premise of public relations. 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. mailto:[email protected]. Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com

In The News:

How to get a job in games PR  GamesIndustry.biz
Letter: Earthquake in PR  Highlands Current
What is Public Relations?  Small Business Trends
Political PR Power 50  City & State
Pete’s Puerto Rico Problem  The American Prospect
PR 246 Reopens To Traffic  SteinbachOnline.com

Why Restaurants Go Out of Business

Recently someone asked me why so many restaurants go out... Read More

Financial Planner Marketing - Problems Are Good (For Financial Planners Seeking Free Publicity)

A common complaint you'll hear is that the media is... Read More

5 Critical Tests Every Press Release Must Pass

You've heard "them" say it, haven't you?By "them" I mean... Read More

Media Relations: When Numbers Lie

NUMBERS, NUMBERS EVERYWHEREYou just placed a terrific story on the... Read More

Managers, Have You Been Shortchanged?

You have been if you're a business, non-profit or association... Read More

Media Relations: Making Your Story More Newsworthy

During my career as the head of media relations for... Read More

Free Radio Publicity for Marketing-Minded Financial Planners

Radio is a powerful publicity tool. Most stations offer news... Read More

Make Your PR Budget Work Harder

Do it by restructuring your business, non-profit or association public... Read More

How To Get FREE Publicity Whenever You Want !

What you are about to read is a step by... Read More

How PR Helps Fiercely Competitive Managers

Fiercely combative business, non-profit and association managers use every PR... Read More

Press Kit Elements That Work

Considering how fundamental they are to the publicist's trade,it's always... Read More

When Should You Outsource Your PR Efforts?

1) Do you NEED solid, consistant media exposure...week after week,... Read More

Get PR Off the Bench

Something that results in your most important outside audiences doing... Read More

Think Like a Reader, Viewer, or Listener to Get Great Publicity

About a year ago I read a feature story in... Read More

Forget the Press Release - Heres How to Pitch Like Roger Clemens

Stripped down to its core, publicity is little more than... Read More

Publicizing Your Company

Got a huge need for publicity and a tiny publicity... Read More

Why Not PR That Gets Real Results?

And not results you can measure only in terms of... Read More

PR: Whats the Point?

Here's the point: people act on their own perception of... Read More

Credibility Lost or Gained, Are you Prepared?

If a reporter approached you about an interview, would you... Read More

PR: A Potent Force for Success

What's REALLY potent for a business, non-profit or association manager... Read More

Are You Dissing Public Relations

If you leave a star player sitting on the bench,... Read More

What Does Your Telephone Say About You When You Are Away?

Business to Business relationships come to expect a certain level... Read More

Is There a Plumber in the House?

I don't know about you but I get really frustrated... Read More

Dealing With Reporters in Your Small Business

It behooves you to know and remember the names of... Read More

Its CNN! They Want To Talk To You!

Being invited to appear on radio and television used to... Read More