Successful public relations, relationships with the public, start inside your agency. First and foremost, the success of your agency’s public relations rests on relationships, people interacting with people. Think about a single transaction, one person interacting with another. This elementary transaction is the smallest unit or building block from which all public relations develop.
Your agency’s public relations program, then, can be no stronger than the cumulative strength of the thousands and thousands of transactions in which your staff participate over time. What’s more, you should assume that the quality of your staff’s external transactions, interactions with the public, is the same as you see in their internal transactions, interactions with each other. Assume that they relate to the public as well or as badly as they relate to their co-workers.
Below is a list of transaction elements you can use to assess your agency’s internal, interpersonal environment. You do this by rating your staff’s typical functioning on each of the ten elements. Rate your staff “5” on the element if it is most always present in your staff members’ transactions with each other. Use “4” for usually, “3” for much of the time, “2” for sometimes, and “1” for usually not. Staff:
1. Are friendly and positive with each other.
2. Listen calmly and respectfully when others are talking.
3. Are sensitive to and accepting of cultural, ethnic, and lifestyle differences.
4. Are where they are expected, when they are expected.
5. Are consistent and predictable, not on-again off-again; do not run hot and cold.
6. Are interested in each others issues and concerns, problems and difficulties.
7. Have a helpful and cooperative approach with each other.
8. Keep commitments and follow through with agreements.
9. Return phone calls, respond to messages, and get back to others when asked.
10. Treat each other as well as you expect them to treat the public.
Now, add your ten ratings together and divide by 10. This gives you an internal transaction score for your agency. The foundation of your public relations program needs to be increasing the internal transaction score, following the principle of continuous quality improvement.
Here is one effective strategy to increase your agencys internal transaction score over time. Monthly, randomly select 10% of your staff to do the above rating for the agency. If your total staff is under fifty, select five staff members each month to be the raters.
Have the raters spend no more than ten minutes doing the ratings and be sure they do not consult with each other while completing the ratings. Simply have each rater complete a simple “Internal Transaction Rating Form” you develop using the ten elements above.
When the months forms are returned, calculate the internal transaction score on each form by adding the ratings on each item together and dividing by 10. Now, just total the internal transaction scores from the forms. Suppose you have 30 forms. You total the 30 individual internal transaction scores and then divide by 30. You divide by the number of forms you actually have returned. The resulting internal transaction score for the agency will be between 1.0 and 5.0 each month.
Although the agency scores may go up and down slightly from month to month, do not focus on the month to month fluctuations. You are looking for a gradually increasing score over several months and from year to year. Create a chart or graph so all staff can see how the score is changing over time.
Certainly, your management group will want to develop specific training and other activities to improve the agencys internal transaction score. They will also want to consistently model the desired behavior. Whether there are special activities or not, though, the simple process of measuring and posting the agencys internal transaction score each month will lead to a gradual increase in that score over time, assuming that managers and supervisors consistently model the wanted behavior.