Let Public Relations Do The Job It's Meant To Do


by Robert A. Kelly

Here's one view of the job its meant to do.

Public relations is firmly rooted in both the principle and reality that people act on their perception of the facts, and that something can be done about those underlying perceptions. When public relations activity successfully creates, changes or reinforces that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to-action those people whose behaviors affect the organization, the public relations effort is a success. In the end, a sound public relations strategy combined with effective tactics leads directly to the bottom line - perceptions altered, behaviors modified, client/employer satisfied.

Contrasting Opinions

But not everybody believes that's the job public relations is meant to do. Here, in hopes of getting closer to the truth, are a few "contrasting opinions," and a reaction to each.

Employers and clients are not primarily interested in our ability to schmooze with the media, communicate or paint images. Nor are they especially fascinated with our efforts to identify target audiences, set public relations goals and strategies, write persuasive messages, select communications tactics, et al.

What they invariably DO want is a change in the behaviors of certain key audiences which leads directly to the achievement of their business objectives. Hence, the emphasis in this article on careful planning for altered key audience perceptions and modified behaviors.

Which is why quality planning, and the degree of behavioral change it produces, defines success or failure of a public relations program.

Done correctly, when public relations results in modified behaviors among groups of people important to an organization, we're talking about nothing less than its survival.

About the Author

Bob Kelly, public relations consultant, was director of public relations for Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-Public Relations, Texaco Inc.; VP-Public Relations, Olin Corp.; VP-Public Relations, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. mail to: bobkelly@TNI.net


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