A Natural Phenomenon? Really?

Sure. What else do you call a human discipline whose very nature is firmly rooted in the principle that people act on their own perception of the facts. Then goes on to create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization?

I call it public relations, and one heck of a natural phenomenon!

In fact, I believe it's the fundamental premise of public relations. Especially when it deals with the survival of just about any organization by successfully altering the perceptions and, hence, the behaviors of certain groups of people important to the success of that organization.

Because public relations problems are usually defined by what people THINK about a set of facts, versus the truth of the matter, we are well-advised to focus on that fundamental premise.

Does it become any less of a phenomenon as it works its magic in the real world?

No. Instead, it's the degree of human behavioral change it produces - through quality planning and execution - that defines the success or failure of a public relations program.

In my experience, most agree that people really do act on THEIR perception of the facts, and that how they react to those facts actually does affect their behaviors. So, to me, it follows that individual understanding of those facts must be continually informed if the follow-on behaviors are to help achieve the business' goal and objectives.

When all is said and done, a sound public relations strategy combined with effective communications tactics leads directly to success - perceptions altered, behaviors modified, client/employer satisfied.

In other words, when those changes in perceptions and behaviors clearly meet the original behavior modification goal set at the beginning of the program, the public relations effort is successful.

So, what comes first? I believe acceptance that individual perception of the facts is the guiding light leading to behavioral change, and that something can be done about those perceptions. While not everyone buys that, I must say that it actually helped shape my career in public relations.

I asked myself some time ago, why am I working in public relations anyway? The answers only strengthened my conviction. Was it simply to create major publicity for my employer or client? Often yes, but I realized that the tactic called publicity - like all tactics -- is designed primarily as a message carrier to a target audience in order to alter its perceptions and behaviors.

Tactics are not the endgame of public relations because, fact is, NO organization - business, non-profit, association or public sector - can succeed today unless the behaviors of its most important audiences are in-sync with the organization's objectives. And that means public relations professionals must modify somebody's behavior if they are to help hit the employer/client's objective and earn a paycheck. Everything else leads to that end.

Once public relations' "phenomenonal" characteristics are understood, an action pathway begins to appear:

-- identify the problem
-- identify target audiences
-- set the public relations goal
-- set the public relations strategy
-- prepare persuasive messages
-- select and implement key communications tactics
-- monitor progress
-- and the end-game? Meet the behavior modification goal

And we get a bonus because we're using a near-perfect public relations performance standard. I mean, how can you measure the results of an activity more accurately than when you clearly achieve the goal you set at the beginning of that activity? You can't. It's pure success.

So, as we apply our tactics, we'll nurture the relationships between our target audiences and our employer/client's business by burnishing the reputation of the organization, its services and products. We'll do our best to persuade those key audiences to do what our employer/client wants them to do. And while seeking public understanding and acceptance of that employer/client, we'll insure that our joint activities not only comply with the law, but clearly serve the public interest.

Then, we pull out all tactical stops to actually move those individuals to action. And our employer/client will be pleased that we have brought matters along to this point.

But when will s/he be fully satisfied with the public relations results we have produced? Only when our "reach, persuade and move-to-desired-action" efforts have produced visible change in the behaviors of those target audiences they wish to influence.

Big words but, in my view, the fundamental premise of a natural phenomenon called public relations, and the strategic context in which we must operate.

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.

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 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.

Visit: http://www.prcommentary.com; [email protected]

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

New York Times

How Facebook's PR Firm Brought Political Trickery to Tech
New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — When Tim Miller, a longtime Republican political operative, moved to the Bay Area last year to set up a public relations shop, he brought with him tradecraft more typical of Washington than Silicon Valley. He was well versed in ...

and more »


Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg says she saw materials from PR firm
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, on Wednesday revised her account of her knowledge of the company's relationship with Definers Public Affairs, the Washington-based public relations firm that the company hired last year and fired ...
Facebook policy chief admits hiring PR firm to attack George SorosThe Guardian
Facebook publishes memo where policy chief owns up to PR firm hiringSeeking Alpha
Facebook Admits To Targeting Billionaire George Soros In PR AttackHuffPost
NDTV -The Times of Israel -Haaretz -New York Times
all 333 news articles »


'Tim Cook for President' and other campaigns from Qualcomm's PR bulldog
'Tim Cook for President' and other campaigns from Qualcomm's PR bulldog. By Mikey Campbell Wednesday, November 21, 2018, 09:26 pm PT (12:26 am ET). Definers Public Affairs, the PR firm Facebook contracted to sling mud at critics after the Cambridge ...

and more »


Facebook's outgoing VP of comms defends using PR firm to dig up info on critics
Facebook's outgoing head of communications and policy has taken responsibility for hiring a controversial public relations firm that's accused of pushing stories critical of Facebook's opponents. Elliot Schrage stepped down from his role at Facebook in ...
Facebook's outgoing communications head reportedly takes the blame for hiring controversial PR firmCNBC
Mark Zuckerberg unhappy that PR firm Facebook hired went after George SorosJewish Telegraphic Agency
He's 'Terrible' at PR: 'Outnumbered' on Future of Zuckerberg Amid Facebook ControversiesFox News Insider
Newsmax -TechCrunch -New York Times -Wall Street Journal
all 655 news articles »


Amazon Studios PR Chief Craig Berman Exits Jeff Bezos Company
“I am fortunate for the opportunity to build a world-class PR and publicity team, and to lead this team through many remarkable and history-making moments across the entire company,” the now ex-VP Public Relations and Publicity at Amazon Entertainment ...

and more »

The Holmes Report

Digital Transforms PR Agency Relationships In China: R3 Study
The Holmes Report
PR budgets are increasing, but clients are bringing work in house and reducing their agency relationships, finds wide-ranging client survey.

and more »


PR leaders: 'Time to bin vanity metrics and focus on measuring impact'
That's the verdict of experts speaking at PRWeek Breakfast Briefing on measuring the true value of PR. Over the past decade, PR measurement has changed due to the growing influence of SEO in the discipline, a myriad of new tools, and reams of consumer ...

Media Update

Four reasons why you should be investing in PR
Media Update
Public relations (PR) gets a bad rap, and that's probably because so many people don't understand the concept at all, says Sue Charlton, founder of SJC Creative. She says although the industry hasn't always done a great job of communicating its value ...


4 Tips to Launch Your First Effective PR Campaign - Entrepreneur
When you dive into public relations, the spotlight will be on you.

and more »


Why Purpose Is Important To Your PR Strategy
While pursuing B Corp status aligned with our overarching goal of having a purpose beyond profit, it also became our most important and highest performing public relations (PR) story of the year. Many of the major travel outlets, and even business ...

Google News

Hey, Mr/Ms Manager!

Does it really make sense to bet your PR budget... Read More

PR Planning: Mapping Out Your Strategies, Tactics

With all due respect to all those stereotypical males out... Read More

Media Savvy - How To Lead, Persuade, And Influence

Media management has become one of the strategic tools for... Read More

What Does the Public Relations Client REALLY Want, and Why?

It's not unusual for clients of service providers to insist... Read More

PR: Heres All You Need to Know

Above all, you need to know that the right PR... Read More

Public Relations & Your Small Business

The practice of public relations is often misunderstood, thus overlooked... Read More

6 Steps to Using Trade Magazines To Reach Customers

When developing a publicity campaign for their business many owners... Read More

How To Get Radio-Active PR For Your Non-Profit Cause: Part Two of Three

FIVE WAYS TO GET ON THE RADIOHere are five basic... Read More

Leveraging Media Coverage - Your Tool For Business Growth

Media relations, simply put, is the business of building and... Read More

Five Publicity Buckets For Marketing-Minded Financial Planners

Maybe you've seen another financial planner on TV, and thought,... Read More

Publicity Tips from the Pros

If you want to know the best way to approach... Read More

This is the Power of PR

The power of public relations is its ability to alter... Read More

Managers: PR More Than Tix and Plugs?

You bet! And in three ways vital to you as... Read More

Managers Who Leave PR to Others

You're a business, non-profit or association manager who needs to... Read More

Managers: Why Not PR Like This?

I mean public relations that presumes from the get-go that... Read More

Watch Your Attitude

So many restaurants spend money on publicity and then practically... Read More

Do You See PRs Real Value?

As a business, non-profit or association manager, do you see... Read More

How to Get PR

There is a process for successfully getting publicity about your... Read More

Media Releases - Helping Grow Your Business

Business people often spend time and money trying to find... Read More

Photographs - Ten Tips For Getting Good Shots

Photographs are essential for getting good publicity in the print... Read More

The Right Hook

Have you fantasized about spreading word of your business on... Read More

Be Patient? Nah, Lets Kill Something

There's the old joke about the two buzzards sitting in... Read More

How To Write More Powerfully For PR, Offline And Online

Years ago when my Dad owned a group of local... Read More

The Most Important PR In America

Just happens to be public relations activity that alters individual... Read More

Between Now and Economic Recovery

There's still time to review your public relations program like... Read More