PR Still a Mystery to Some

PR Still a Mystery to Some

Unfortunately, there are managers who define public relations by its applications. Which explains neither its underlying strengths nor what PR is all about.
The casual observer is left with a confusion of tactical, application-oriented definitions of the public relations function: Is it publicity? Crisis management? Special events? Reputation management? Promotion? Or a slew of other tactics in which we engage from time to time?
Which is it? More important, just what lies at the core of managerial public relations anyway?
I believe the core lies in doing something positive about the behaviors of those important outside audiences of yours that most affect your operation.
In other words, create external stakeholder behavior change – the kind that leads directly to achieving your managerial objectives.
And do so by persuading those key outside folks to your way of thinking, then help move them to take actions that allow your department, division or subsidiary to succeed.
Luckily, there’s also a blueprint at the center of public relations to help you cement that PR core for your own managerial benefit.
And it goes like this: People act on their own perception of the facts before them, which leads to predictable behaviors about which something can be done. When we create, change or reinforce that opinion by reaching, persuading and moving-to- desired-action the very people whose behaviors affect the organization the most, the public relations mission is accomplished.
And for managers such as you, here’s the type of results that could emerge. Healthy bounces in show room visits; community leaders seeking you out; prospects starting to do business with you; membership applications on the rise; customers making repeat purchases; fresh proposals for strategic alliances and joint ventures in the inbox; capital givers or specifying sources looking your way, and even politicians and legislators beginning to view you as a key member of the business, non-profit or association communities.
You also need PR team members who understand that blueprint and commit themselves to its implementation, starting with key audience perception monitoring. Let’s face it, your PR people are already in the perception and behavior business, so they should be of real use for this initial opinion monitoring project.
Caveat: you must be certain your public relations people really believe – deep down — why it’s SO important to know how your most important outside audiences perceive your operations, products or services. Make sure they accept the reality that perceptions almost always lead to behaviors that can help or hurt your unit.
Talk it over with them, especially your plan for monitoring and gathering perceptions by questioning members of your most important outside audiences. Questions like these: how much do you know about our organization? Have you had prior contact with us and were you pleased with the interchange? Are you familiar with our services or products and employees? Have you experienced problems with our people or procedures?
While professional survey firms can always be hired to do the opinion monitoring work, they also can cost big bucks. So, whether it’s your people or a survey firm asking the questions, the objective remains the same: identify untruths, false assumptions, unfounded rumors, inaccuracies, misconceptions and any other negative perception that might translate into hurtful behaviors.
The PR goal, obviously, is to do something about the most serious distortions you discover during your key audience perception monitoring. Will it be to straighten out that dangerous misconception? Correct that gross inaccuracy? Or, stop that potentially bloody rumor dead in its tracks?
Truth is, you won’t get there at all without the right strategy to tell you how to proceed. But keep in mind that there are just three strategic options available when it comes to doing something about perception and opinion. Change existing perception, create perception where there may be none, or reinforce it. The wrong strategy pick will taste like pepper flakes on your Crème Brulee, so be sure your new strategy fits well with your new public relations goal. You wouldn’t want to select “change” when the facts dictate a “reinforce” strategy.
Now it’s time to put together a well-written message and direct it to members of your target audience. It’s always a challenge to create an actionable message that will help persuade any audience to your way of thinking.
You need your best scribes for this one because s/he must build some very special, corrective language. Words that are not merely compelling, persuasive and believable, but clear and factual if they are to shift perception/opinion towards your point of view and lead to the behaviors you have in mind.
Once you’ve run draft copy by your PR team, it’s on to the next selection process — the communications tactics most likely to carry your message to the attention of your target audience. There are scores that are available. From speeches, facility tours, emails and brochures to consumer briefings, media interviews, newsletters, personal meetings and many others. But you must be certain that the tactics you pick are known to reach folks like your audience members,
By the way, you may wish to avoid “shouting too loud” and unveil your message before smaller meetings and presentations rather than using higher-profile news releases, as the credibility of any message is fragile and always at stake.
The people around you will start agitating in short order for progress reports, which signals to you and your PR team to get going on a second perception monitoring session with members of your external audience. You’ll want to use many of the same questions used in the first benchmark session. Big difference this time is that you will be on red alert for signs that the bad news perception is being altered in your direction.
Incidentally, I’ve always thought it fortunate that such matters usually can be accelerated simply by adding more communications tactics as well as increasing their frequencies.
So, at the end of the day, what you want the new PR plan to accomplish is to persuade your most important outside stakeholders to your way of thinking, then move them to behave in a way that leads to the success of your department, division or subsidiary.
Public relations should no longer be a mystery when the people you deal with do, in fact, behave suspiciously like everyone else – they act upon their perceptions of the facts they hear about you and your operation. Which means you really have little choice but to deal promptly and effectively with those perceptions by doing what is necessary to reach and move those key external audiences of yours to actions you desire.
Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. A copy would be appreciated at Word count is 1220 including guidelines and resource box.
Robert A. Kelly © 2004.

The post PR Still a Mystery to Some appeared first on Bizngine.


The Wave Of The Future? Looking At Voip Phones

The Wave Of The Future? Looking At Voip Phones

VOIP phones may not look all that strange or different from a regular telephone at first glance, and there’s a reason for that. VOIP phones aren’t meant to look sleek, cool, or futuristic, they way many of the new cell phones have come out with “trendy” designs based on appearance. VOIP technology was designed to do the exact same thing as a regular old telephone: only with the hopes of finding a way to do it cheaper, more efficiently, and better.

A phone that specifically uses VOIP technology for calls as opposed to a conventional phone line is known as an Ethernet hard phone as well. An Ethernet hard phone is a telephone that looks like a conventional phone, but instead of having the normal phone jack, it has an Ethernet port instead. This port is used to communicate with a VOIP server, gateway, or another VOIP phone. Since this type of phone as its own VOIP server, it does not have to be hooked up directly to a personal computer in order to make or receive phone calls.

It can be used independently as long as there is an Internet connection, which is part of the reason why some businesses who have reliable wireless Internet have switched their office phones over. This saves a lot of money, and makes work more efficient since the phones are not constrained by a limited number of available lines.

Residential VOIP phones usually don’t refer to a physical phone, but to the software program. At a residence, VOIP software can be downloaded and used with a VOIP phone to make calls. A regular telephone works just as well, as long as you purchase an adapter to make it function with the computer system. Most VOIP phones are also referred to as IP phones, and they can replace your normal phone if you don’t want to buy an adaptor. Another option is that a microphone attached to your computer allows you to talk to someone back and forth who also has VOIP system (though note: you always need a minimum of broadband Internet for VOIP to be a good idea).

Another option is a “Wi-Fi phone.” These phones (made particularly well known by Vonage) work in the same way you can get wireless Internet with a lap top computer. In the same way a lap top with wireless Internet needs to have an area with a wireless set up in order to function, Wi-Fi phones work in particular “hot spots” where a network is set up in Internet hot spots that allow you to make VOIP calls while traveling, instead of using the more common cell phone.

All these are good options for VOIP phones. There are other options, as well, and what you might want can depend a lot on whether you are an individual or a business, whether you want a phone for business use or for simple long distance calls. All of these factors can help determine which VOIP phone is best for your needs and convenience. Always do your research before hand, and you won’t be disappointed.

The post The Wave Of The Future? Looking At Voip Phones appeared first on Bizngine.

Is VoIP An Easy Choice For Your Calls?

Is VoIP An Easy Choice For Your Calls?

Making Voice over Internet Protocol calls over the Internet is very simple and really is an advantageous stand-in to conventional landline telephones or mobile phones. It is not a new concept for internet users and was not much used, as VoIP required broadband Internet and broadband is been increasingly used just starting form few years ago and has is becoming a prevalent activity among broadband users.

Why should you use VoIP?

The imperative thing about VoIP is the reduced cost comparing to call cost made over conventional telephone. Calls made within VoIP users are free even in case of international calls because you already pay for your regular internet usage. You may not need any additional equipment for this but require a headphone.

In addition, voice over broadband of 1Mbps onwards offers you the fine quality, better than that of a landline telephone call. The voice quality is generally adequate even if it is an ISDN line or a dialup line.

How does VoIP work?

A mature internet user knows the complex usage of internet, typically sending/receiving emails, audio/video and software downloads are few out of it. Making phone calls over internet is one another use of the internet and it is by VoIP.

A headphone will work in place of a conventional telephone and the only difference is how the conversation is carried from and to in between. The outline is same, no matter what type of broadband you have, ADSL, cable, wireless or satellite broadband.

The most striking offer of VoIP is that you can make free international calls anytime, to anyone who is a VoIP user too. But it does stop here. Still if you want to use VoIP to call folks who are not VoIP featured, just go and have your gateway service that act as a bridge between VoIP user and the conventional telephone users.

By its basic nature, VoIP allows communication among VoIP users only and in general, this is adequate for many. But for those have VoIP and still want to call a conventional telephone user, can have the PSTN gateway services to connect and call a conventional telephone user. In such case, you can look for a VoIP phone in place of headphone.

VoIP Make Your Calls, Straight Forward

It is simple to call using VoIP. A widely used free phone or messaging software and a headphone will do this. Have them and install it to your broadband setup.

If you are habitual to call people who use different softwares from yours, you need mutli-software installation and most of them are available as free downloads. MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and ICQ are few of these free softwares.

VoIP handsets and their adapters fairly replace your headphone, making your talking experience enjoyable and are generally called, IP phone. Dual-purpose phones for calling both VoIP as well as conventional phone user avoid the existence of two phones and this make your calling experience, imaginative.

Broadband users who make regular calls to other broadband users can pick VoIP for two factors, cost and comfort. For those who make a lot of long-distance and international calls particularly, overseas calls, VoIP nearly replace the regular telephone usage.

For business people, VoIP is a sensible alternative. Business users can benefit from significant saving on calls via VoIP. Business houses, operating from international locations can make extensive use of VoIP. What other than that of making calling to your customers and suppliers for free or at slashed rate is going to be your better business thought.

The post Is VoIP An Easy Choice For Your Calls? appeared first on Bizngine.

New Business Phone System Makes the Difference

New Business Phone System Makes the Difference

My small business was growing in almost every way imaginable. Every way except the bottom line, that is. My company primarily does business over the phone, with over ninety percent of our sales coming across our telephone lines. When our call volume started to increase late last year, I hired several new employees to man our existing phone system. We updated our computer software, desktops and server to make order processing substantially smoother. We redesigned our website for easy navigation and ordering for internet customers. We even integrated our shipping department to handle an increase in orders. The phones were ringing off the hook several times throughout the day as our business increased, and we started to see a slight shift in the right direction for our profits. Still, I wondered if we were losing calls because of a lack of response time.

Our phone system simply routed incoming calls to any available phone. If no one was available, the customer would hear the phone ring until someone eventually picked up or until they got tired of waiting. I decided to have a trunk study performed, which is a method of finding out how many calls we were losing for not having enough lines. Sure enough, we were missing out on several hundred calls per day. During the busy times, people were calling and hanging up after being made to wait. There was no telling if they ever decided to call back. With office space already maximized to the point that I couldn’t hire additional employees for lack of a place to put them, I decided to update our phone system. We had several new lines installed and would now have the capability to route incoming calls that were not picked up within three rings to go to an automated message telling the customer to please hold for the next available representative. This helped quite a bit as now our busiest hours seemed to stretch out even longer. We then added desk phones with LCD displays so that our representatives could field up to five calls each. This meant that four less customers per desk would receive the same request to hold, but from a human being.

What was formerly a two hour stretch of nonstop business in the morning and afternoon turned into an all day affair. We then customized our message to inform customers that received the automated message of when the best times to call were, so that they would have the option of calling back at a less busy time. After all this, my business increased tenfold. All I can say is that if you do business over the phone and have times where your lines are ringing nonstop, you need to have a good business phone system in place or you might be losing money.

The post New Business Phone System Makes the Difference appeared first on Bizngine.

Raising The Bar: Continuing Advances In Voip Technology

Raising The Bar: Continuing Advances In Voip Technology

VOIP technology has advanced to a stage where VOIP is no longer an interesting start up, but a strong and valid technological force that offers so many benefits, not the least of which is huge savings in long distance phone calls. Many businesses have gone from expensive and complicated intra-office phone systems to switching to a VOIP system because of the increase in efficiency and strong decrease in cost. The continuing advancement of VOIP technology is what makes this possible.

Residential VOIP refers to the software that allows you to download the technology onto your computer and then communicate with family, friends, and acquaintances in the same way you would on the telephone, but your computer is used as a telephone instead. Because the technology is based on phone communication through the Internet, anyone you want to contact will also need to download the same technological software on their computers, but don’t worry, this is actually very easy!

What if you still want to call people who don’t have VOIP? One of the smartest technological advances by the companies encouraging the development of VOIP technology was creating an adaptor. An adaptor hooks up to a regular phone, and hooks it up to your VOIP so you can still use the residential VOIP to call any phone, whether it is a VOIP phone, a landline, or even a cell phone! This little piece of equipment allows you all the benefits of VOIP without any of the potential restrictions that could make people hesitant to invest in this service.

With the advancement of portable VOIP phones (Vonage is perhaps the best known company that provides this service), the question has been brought up of whether or not VOIP phones will be able to ever replace cell phones, and what would the difference be? While the technology is there for this to happen, the infrastructure isn’t there yet; though it is getting closer with each passing day.

The advantage of this would be that VOIP would be far cheaper, since long distance wouldn’t cost nearly anything and there would be no restriction on minutes. A wireless VOIP phone is also referred to as a “Wi-Fi VOIP phone,” and needs networks in the same way wireless internet needs networks, to work, but more are popping up every day, and many cities plan to increase the number of hot spots, which would make this a more and more viable option.

Many cell phone companies, sensing ahead of time what this could mean for them if they refuse to adapt, now design phones that not only work as regular cell phones, but also have features that allow the user to switch to their VOIP account if they are close enough to a hot spot. While complete VOIP is a long ways off, the beginning structures are there, and as the VOIP technology improves, it would not be surprising to head towards the day where VOIP isn’t a side game, but the main choice available to all phone users.

The post Raising The Bar: Continuing Advances In Voip Technology appeared first on Bizngine.

Features Of The Modern Business Phone Systems

Features Of The Modern Business Phone Systems

The most unique feature of today’s phone systems is that they link phone, computer and fax into one integrated package. Many businesses do this by installing their own wiring, called CAT5e, instead of using the old phone company cables.

All systems begin with the basic ability to send and receive local and long-distance calls world wide. Common features include call waiting, call forwarding, remote access, and caller ID. For business applications, phones must offer more. Perhaps one of the most useful features is the auto-attendant. When customers call in, they hear an automated menu of options. This may include instructions to press particular numbers to reach divisions within the business (press 1 to reach sales, press 2…etc.). Menus can be set up to automatically change after regular hours and on the weekends.

To avoid customers feeling as if they have been dropped into space while on hold, most systems have music on hold features. More sophisticated systems can allow different types of music to be programmed for different types of customers.

When the call is moved from the switch board to an employee, other features are important. The system should provide unlimited extensions. Each extension should have a message created by the employee that comes on when there is no one available to answer the phone. As well, there should be a means of identifying callers (caller ID), saving messages (voice mail), forwarding calls when the employee is at another desk, and sending calls when the employee is out of the office. Of particular value is the “hot desk” feature. This allows employees to move from desk to desk, taking their calls and voice mail with them.

To handle both voice and data transmissions, phone systems must have dedicated lines for each. A voice T1 system allows for 24 channels per phone line with 24 separate numbers. T1s are also used for Internet access. Internet download and upload speeds vary depending on the equipment used. Integrated T1 systems carry both voice and data on one line. VoiP (Voice over Internet Protocols) is a system for using the Internet to carry phone calls. There are a number of advantages to VoiP, including the ability to plug into the internet and make free calls from anywhere in the world.

It is essential that the phone system be able to handle conference calls. The proper phone bridge permits an unlimited number of internal participants and as many external callers as there are phone lines. Some systems even have the capability for handling unlimited external callers. With video conferencing more popular, phone lines can be used to carry both voice and video images.

There are many different systems available, and each one of them offer its own array of features especially suited for today’s companies. Most can be easily upgraded with new components.

The post Features Of The Modern Business Phone Systems appeared first on Bizngine.

How Your Business Can Save 40% Every Month By Using VoIP

How Your Business Can Save 40% Every Month By Using VoIP

The way that small and medium sized businesses can save significant amounts of money on their monthly communications costs is switching to Voice Over IP also known as VOIP. VOIP is a technology that has had a lot of attention over the last few years, but due to the uncertainty and how unreliable it was, the adoption of the technology has been slower than expected. Small and mid-sized businesses have been the slowest of all segments to adapt to VOIP, mainly due the concerns about the type of support that is required to implement and maintain the solution. Over the last couple of years the technology has matured, as well as the quality of internet connections, to the point that VOIP should be considered by all businesses.

VOIP offers several benefits over traditional phone systems:

VOIP Saves Businesses Money and is Cost Efficient – VOIP offers free local calling on most standard plans which traditional phone systems still charge $.08 per call. VOIP typically includes either unlimited Long Distance or large blocks of time that essentially make the calls free. For most small businesses, either their local calls or long distance usage volumes will cause a significant reduction in monthly spend when switching to a VOIP solution. VOIP is also used over an internet connection which is used for both voice and data, which eliminates the need for multiple connections. In the future, all that will be needed is increased bandwidth as applications for your business continue to grow, but a change to your phone system will not be necessary.

VOIP Does Not Require Equipment Upgrades – When VOIP was first introduced, large equipment upgrades were needed which was a deterrent to businesses adopting the technology. Today, there are adapters that are available that convert digital signals to analog and make all existing phones systems, even simple pots lines, adequate for VOIP technology.

VOIP Makes Video, Audio and Data Integration Easier – The biggest benefit of VOIP technology will not be realized today, but in years to come. Internet Protocol or IP is quickly becoming the future of all communications including phones, TV, computers, etc. The use of IP gives businesses the ability to integrate their phones with their faxes and their computers with the video systems.

VOIP Offers Flexibility – With VOIP, businesses can more easily relocate their workforce, move calls so that they can match their load with their force, and use Virtual Telephone numbers to give their business a presence in a city that it does not physically exist. It is very common with VOIP for a local Chicago number to be answered by a rep in another state or even another country.Voice over IP (VoIP) is the future of telecommunications.

Experts agree that VoIP will eventually replace the PSTN, and the technology is already rapidly gaining ground. Traditional voice carriers, cable MSOs, and alternative providers with various business models are all aggressively trying to capture a piece of the VoIP market. If you haven’t done so yet, you owe it to yourself and your business to inquire about the options available with VOIP for your business. It is a switch that will save money and time in the short and long run. Most businesses have seen a 40% reduction in monthly communications costs with the switch to VOIP.

The post How Your Business Can Save 40% Every Month By Using VoIP appeared first on Bizngine.