The public relations executive assures that all contacts with the public that demand change are plotted for action. In a hotel, for instance, this would embrace the attitudes and behavior of the porter who brings in the baggage, the attitude of the front-office clerk, the carefulness of the telephone operator in transmitting messages, the speed of a bellboy in answering a call, the courtesy of waiters, and so on.
The public relations practitioner plans to ensure that all written and spoken action is executed with awareness of possible reactions and in accordance with the recommendations based on the survey and the goals to be reached.
The public relations practitioner is aware that, contrary to 18th-century belief, man is not always a reasoning being who arrives at reasonable conclusions. Response to communications is not exclusively the result of reasoning processes. Very often people believe only what they want to believe. They absorb only what they want and avoid or discard anything counter to their a priori concepts.
Persuading a person to accept facts cannot always be achieved by appealing only to reason. Emotions, loyalties, and belief in relevant or irrelevant authority play roles in belief. Firsthand experience does not automatically create correct perception.
False perceptions are not necessarily rectified by correct facts. Factual knowledge is essential and useful but limited in its power to gain approval. Truth alone cannot win acceptance. The astrology columns in newspapers would not exist if it did.
A combination of methods needs to be employed to gain acceptance for ideas and things-factual evidence, authorities, reason, persuasion.
In carrying out tactics, the public relations practitioner needs to guard against attributing to others thoughts and actions of his own. For instance, a man who counsels a department store to advertise women's girdles by illustrations of scantily clad women is an example of unsound psychological thinking: Such appeals interest men, not women.
Planning tactics effectively is an ultimate test of the public relations practitioner's competence as a societal theoretician and technician.
Every well-planned activity must have a budget carefully thought out and planned in advance. This budget should attempt to allocate the money available for varied purposes-part for creative expression and part for administrative expression. Such budgeting is most desirable in safeguarding the economics of every situation.
Handling Friction between Independent Counsel and Principal
Obstacles to complete cooperation between principal and independent outside counsel are not infrequent. The client may not understand the reasons for recommended changes in behavior and actions, or just how they will be achieved. The principal may go ahead on his own in certain phases of activity, then later blame poor results on the adviser. The principal may attempt to restrict the adviser's functions to narrower areas of activity, and the incompleteness may affect results. The principal may be oriented to material considerations without regard to intangibles. He may think of the activity in terms of public visibility in the media, without paying attention to broad policy goals. The principal may withhold important facts from the adviser, with adverse results.
Such maladjustments also arise in the case of other professionals and their clients or employers. The possibility is greater in public relations because the field is so new and patterns or relationships are less well established.
There is one sound way to achieve adjustment in such situations: Always base relationships on the principle of "open covenants openly arrived at." Public relations practitioners will find that they can overcome resistance by applying to themselves comparable strategies and actions to those they recommend to their clients. They can gain greater acceptance for their actions and establish greater authority for themselves and their profession by applying sound principles and practices of public relations to themselves.
The public relations practitioner does not depend only on what he has learned by experience. Outside reading of periodicals and books should be continual. In an earlier article useful periodicals were listed. To find books, the practitioner learns to consult bibliographies. It took me years to learn that there were publishing companies such as H. T. Wilson in New York City and Gale Research Co. in Detroit that publish bibliographies on a variety of topics. There are even bibliographies of bibliographies, invaluable in getting facts and points of view on a multitude of subjects.
Becoming a Policy Maker
A public relations practitioner may attain a position in which he or she participates with other executives in policy-making.
Those with decision-making power often prefer to retain that function rather than share it with others. In older professions- law, for instance-advice is willingly accepted; but principals often are unwilling to accept public relations advice because the profession is still so young. Sometimes unwillingness stems from innate conservatism or bad experiences. Yet a qualified practitioner with knowledge, experience, and understanding of the social sciences has much to offer. As time goes on and society demands more rigid standards of the practitioner, participation in policy-making will become frequent.