How to get the public image you want for your organisation

Sensible organisations are careful to develop and sustain a good public image. They strive to become good neighbours, showing concern for the affairs of the community in which they operate. And if they don't live up to community expectations, they will rightly be subjected to community criticism. Public support is therefore of the utmost importance. But many managers expect this support without taking positive steps to win it. Here are some principles essential for gaining a good public image...

1. Plan your program.

Planning is essential. In devising ways to win community support for your organisation, you must take into account information that the public has, wants, and needs about your organisation. Consider also such basic factors as your audience, program timing, techniques you will use, and potential media coverage.

2. Become a good neighbour.

Do your activities upset the local community in which you operate? If so, do something immediately about noise, fumes, smells, waste disposal, parking, visual pollution - things that can create antagonism locally. Or do your activities receive warm local acknowledgement - because you support local development, contibute to local community associations, donate to charities, support schools, sponsor student awards, offer assistance with local sport, art and youth activities? Think about the many ways in which you can keep your local community on side by becoming a good neighbour.

3. Know your community.

No effective program can be planned without a knowledge of the local community. What problems are of concern locally - lack of recreation facilities, youth unemployment, historic sites, pollution? What are your community's main interests - sport, culture, gardens? Who are the political leaders? Who are the opinion leaders? What is the current economic situation (the spending power of a prosperous mining town would be greater than that of a declining pastoral town)? Are there any special emotional issues - resulting from a racial, religious, or industrial past? And so on. Only with such background information can your image-building efforts be directed into the correct channels.

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