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Modification of Objectives of a Public Relations Practitioner

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The public relations practitioner often finds after research that goals set are unattainable. They must be modified. Some ideas, products, or services may need more education of the public. The public may have prejudices against a particular cause or product or service, or a competitive situation may be such that it is impossible to meet the goals set. Under such conditions, the principal, on advice of the public relations practitioner, changes goals, modifies them to accord with realities.

Decision on Strategy

When specific goals have been set, strategy is determined. By strategy is meant how mind power, manpower, mechanics, and money are deployed. This demands high professional skill by the practitioner, the application of art to a science-social science. How should social science be applied to bring about the desired objectives? It demands professional expertise of the kind a doctor or lawyer employs in handling cases.



Themes and Appeals

Themes and appeals are shortcuts to human understanding. Their proper selection is essential to well-planned public relations. They are derived from the results of public opinion research. Properly used, they intensify already favorable attitudes, convert the undecided, and negate unfavorable attitudes.

To decide upon themes and appeals, the public relations practitioner turns to the social sciences. Humans are motivated by three main drives: (1) bodily or physiological; (2) cultural or social; and (3) individual. These drives are subject to outside stimuli.

Physiological drives, arising from bodily needs, cause us to act in certain behavior patterns. Hunger, for instance, is a positive physiological drive. Withdrawal from unpleasant or dangerous situations is a negative one. Sex and thirst are physiological drives. For instance, the appeal of the soft-drink industry is based on arousing the thirst reaction and stressing the ability of the product to bring relief.

Social drives affect our attitudes toward products, policies, and practices of all units impinging on the public. They affect our judgments on political candidates, toothpastes, and auto-mobiles. Purchase of a particular motor car is often motivated by social pressure.

Individual drives dominate other conduct. Safety factors, for instance, appeal to a desire for self-preservation-the life wish.

This covers plans to carry on activity. Activity involves all elements of the principal in contact with publics. A well-thought-out organization plan embraces planning for the necessary complement of people and things to carry out the program. Organization provides for the expected and the unexpected. The plan of organization details the flow of authority, assignment of duties, and execution.

Planning of Timing and Tactics

Timing and planning of tactics are essential to carry on effective strategy and achieve goals.

Sound tactics demands interlocking of resources based on the findings of the research, and meeting of the goals set. The fore-sighted practitioner plans tactics to handle routine matters and to meet emergencies as they may arise. Tactics may involve changing policies and practices of the principal. It may also involve information and persuasion activities through the media, including newspapers, periodicals, radio, television, motion pictures, pamphlets, posters, and handbills. It may include contact (personal, by telephone, and by letter) with group leaders and opinion molders. It may also include the development of created circumstances, planned events such as symposia, conferences, luncheons, forums, and the like.

A chart that covers advance planning is useful. This schedules all activities according to the timing of the overall strategy. Like a general with a carefully drawn battle plan, the public relations practitioner uses a comparable blueprint to aid in the effective carrying out of action.

Sometimes tactics has for their aim penetration through the media to the public, in order that specific or general public's be made aware of certain facts or points of view. Timing may well be an important factor in such an activity.

The orderly spacing of tactics naturally plays a role in effectiveness. As an example of such good timing, when glycerin was first used as antifreeze in the first airplane flight across the North Pole, the promotion campaign to sell the product was launched immediately afterward.

The public relations practitioner must realize that certain days are more logical than others from the standpoint of news coverage of a planned event or press conference. Sunday may well be the best day for events not related to business activity. Monday's media have little commerce and industry to report and therefore have more space and time for presentation.

Monday is poor for staging an event. The accumulation of events at the beginning of a busy week makes competition for attention on Tuesday too great a risk.

Tuesday is a good day. People have caught up with themselves on Monday. Wednesday is also a good day. People can come up for air, give time to something new.

Thursday is not quite so good, because the momentum of the week's activity means greater competition for attention all around.

Friday is poor for the same reason, as is Saturday.

Saturday is poor for two other good reasons. First, it is a day of release and escape from routine for most people; and second, Sunday newspapers go to press early. Special interest sections are run off before Saturday for the most part. Broadcast media news coverage is much less than on weekdays.

In scheduling for maximum public visibility, the public relations professional watches public trends closely. To avoid conflict of dates and also to find possible tie-ins with other interests, the public relations planner turns to such reference sources as World Convention Dates; The United States Chamber of Commerce Special Days, Weeks, and Months (which lists weeks given over to certain products, ideas, or services); Chase's Calendar of Annual Events; trade and professional publications that often list events in the fields they cover; and Variety, Publishers Weekly, Editor and Publisher, and Broadcasting, which run advance comment on trends in the mass media affecting the climate of public opinion.
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