Good public relations starts with a strong identity, a planned
program and concrete goals. Therefore, as with all other project
management activities, establishing a PR activity or program starts
with appointing someone to be responsible and then have them develop
an appropriate plan. The PR program leader himself must be outgoing
and positive, yet able and willing to work through a program systematically.
He or she must also be capable of preparing carefully constructed
text and presentations. In developing the PR plan, the following
eight basic steps are suggested:
- Know the project organization and its objectives thoroughly.
- Determine who the interested publics will be and the characteristics
- Establish the relative importance of each to the project, and
in particular, identify the "high risk" areas.
- Assess the current reputation of the sponsoring organization
as it is perceived by each of the interested publics.
- Determine appropriate action in each case.
- Develop strategy, resources, priorities and schedule.
- Implement the plan.
- Continuously monitor the effectiveness of the program during
its implementation and adjust the plan for optimum results.
Project #1: LNG
In the case of the LNG project a private sector public relations
firm was hired. Their major asset was in knowing local dignitaries
and media representatives and in being able to get quick and favorable
access to them.
ŠThe financial success of the Expo 86 project is heavily dependent
upon exhibitor participation on the one hand and attendance on the
other. At least 15 million admissions are required to break even.
A major promotional effort is therefore obviously part of the project.
However, a project such as this must have the support of the local
communities, who initially viewed the enterprise with skepticism.
Therefore the PR effort was separated from hard sell marketing at
the outset and became the responsibility of the Communications Division.
The basic philosophy of the PR program is to create public interest
and awareness, to establish a sense of ownership and thereby to
increase the number of local visitors. The focus is external and
consistent effort is made to be proactive rather than reactive.
The Communications Division is divided into four departments, namely:
community relations; protocol i.e. dealing with local dignitaries;
media relations; and supporting information services. Each department
has its own budget and plan which is reviewed monthly.
Internal project PR is the responsibility of the personnel department,
which faces the problems of a widely dispersed workforce, variable
hours worked and rapid turnover. Internal news letters are issued.
Project #2: ALRT
On the transit project a communication plan was developed and approved
by management early in the design development stage. This plan was
designed to bring to the surface the major issues and concerns that
would impact the project at:
- the street level
- the community level
- the Provincial Government level
- the National level
It set out a program of activities that communicated the project's
policies, practices and their rationale to the project's key publics.
The plan first conducted a current situation. review which included
probable public reaction to the risk of adopting advanced technology,
its commercial viability, the safety of running trains without drivers,
what happens in the event of a power failure and so on. At the street
level there may well be hardship due to property expropriation,
proximity to people's homes and construction upset.
The plan continued with its PR program philosophy, as outlined
earlier, including the intent to promote and maintain a full understanding
of the Transit Project by all project officers and staff. It concluded
by identifying specific issues and concerns raised to date, and
set out a complete and detailed implementation strategy and action
program. During the life of the project, the plan has been reviewed
regularly, and updated annually. The program was conducted by a