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  Issue 28

   

Concepts: Public relations (II)

The image that others have for you

Organization’s image The image is important, because it is the way others see you. Real image cannot be developed and then presented overnight; it takes time and it is more a process than just an event. You cannot immediately be in trend, the old users to like you, to be friendly to the children and multi-ethnic. However, you have to start from somewhere in a certain period, and the best place to start is where you are at the moment.

Ask all the employees what they think your image is like?

Remember that what you get as a result is just your perception of how you are seen. The only way to confirm how others really see you is to ask the ones outside your civic organization. To do this, it takes time and it is best if someone independent does it, because it is less likely that people will express their real opinion if you ask them directly, afraid not to insult you.

In this phase you could also have a benefit if you carry out “a communication mini-revision”. Collect all the printed material you produce – leaflets, annual reports, letters, compliments, brochures, even job advertisements – and try to see what kind of image they promote. Pay special attention to the design, to the words you use and the way the publications are written, and do not forget the photographs and illustrations.

Listen to the message on your answering machine. What does it show about you? Could you do it better? If so, do it!

Now think about the image you would like to have and compare it with the image you really have. Some public relations techniques could help you get these two images closer.


Warm welcome

Good public relations start from your reception room. Try to look at it as someone who is not from your organization would see it. What impressions does it leave about your organization? Is it the image you like?

It is also important the offices to be kept clean and tidy and to give a feeling of professionalism and organization. You will not be impressed if you visit an office that is untidy and disorganized, files scattered all around, messy desks, smell of old crisps, dirty mugs and dead plants at the windows. These kinds of offices do not offer confidence; they really make the visitors ask themselves about the office’s competence.

You should also work on your personnel. Are your visitors warmly welcomed by your receptionist who is friendly and ready to help, or they just receive yes/no answers by nodding? Let a friend of yours call your organization and evaluate the image via a phone conversation. Is your receptionist willing to help and does he know how to do it? The role of the personnel that welcomes visitors or receives phone calls is often forgotten and they are basic for good public relations. Most often they are the only people to contact with, so the image they convey is very important. The aim of your organization could be evaluated according to their work.

The choice of your president also influences your image. If you are concerned about the public perception of your organization, then another important question is: who are the members of your managing bodies? They should consist of people with some relevant experience and representative skills for your customers and the wider society, avoiding the superficial respecting at any price.

The people in your organization can make or spoil your image, as well as your publications and leaflets. What do they say about you? Is the language jargon or clear, concise and literary?

For some organizations it is a good test about how well you are known and what your image is like if you stand some 500 meters from your office and ask the people passing by to give you instructions how to get to your working premises. If you find out that most of the people have not heard about you or say something humiliating about your organization, you will have to face a difficult struggle to promote the public relations and your work, but your research will at least tell you something about your organization, even if it is an unpleasant truth.


Real image

There is no point in the decision to have the best profile in your field, or to be the greatest or the best, if it is not feasible.

If you want to be seen friendly, make sure that the receptionist will not mumble or shout at people on the other side of the phone or to your advocates. If you offer services to adults, but you want them to see you as friendly to children, remember to have some toys and picture books in your reception room, to provide childcare during the meetings.

In all you do, compare the image you want to have with the one you really project. If you make a new leaflet, check if the copy, design and illustrations express what you try to depict. Make sure the message you convey in the press announcements promotes the real image of your organization.

 

Image gaps
If the good image you promote for your organization does not comply with the reality, there is a gap in the image and you might be facing a problem. Your image will increase audience’s expectations and when, inevitably, you fail to meet these expectations, everyone will feel disappointed and cheated. Therefore, it is most important the image and the reality to conform.

 

Ten prompt ways to improve your image

1.      Record a new, more informative and friendlier message on your answering machine;

2.      Clean up your reception room and always keep it tidy;

3.      Warmly welcome the visitors, even when you are not really happy to see them! Make sure the whole personnel behaves that way, too;

4.      Smile when you answer the phone;

5.      Put some copies of your leaflets and publications in the reception room, so that the visitors can take them;

6.      If you have a lot of unread letters, immediately send a letter to the customers that there is a standstill in the post;

7.      Avoid using jargon when you write or speak;

8.      Always have copies of your leaflets in your briefcase or car, so that they will be on hand if you meet someone who is not familiar with your work;

9.      Put the working hours of your office on the door, as well as the dates when your office does not work because of holidays;

10.  Talk to your colleagues and find out what they do and give a press announcement to promote their work.

 

Prepared by: Gonce Jakovleska
(Used material: “The diy guide for

public relations”, Moi Ali)

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