You want to be a publicist? Quick-minded thinkers for hire!
Visionaries are big thinkers. As publicists, OF COURSE, we make big plans, but we have to act quick, and in PR, the proof is always in the planning and detailed implementation. Taking the grand scheme and turning it into smaller steps, publicists are comprehensive thinkers whose skill sets include the ability to break schemes and visions into increments, and whose experience has shown them the necessity to be rational and realistic and most importantly, STRATEGIC. Fantasy thinkers will soon get themselves into big trouble here, so practicality is the keyword—trust me, I am a former fantasy thinker and it is a hard habit to break!
It wasn’t until I started working for In The Lights, and started working for a woman who has some serious planning skills, that I hung up my fantasy thinking and started thinking about the intricate details. Strategic planning is at the heart of all public relations, and as a general rule, it is best to consider the full year ahead with expected revisions to be made every 6 months, and again every 3. Launching a PR campaign without a strategic plan is like driving through Brooklyn without your WAZE app on. You will find yourself lost, late, or never even arrive at your fabulous and hipster destination (and when your clients are forking over funds from their tight budget, that’s an expensive mistake to make!). In today’s business environment, with limited resources and ramped up accountability, it’s not enough to head off in a general, vague direction. Like WAZE, which not only gets you there on time but helps you to beat the traffic, a strategic plan requires you to input your destination and keeps you on track to put your clients in the lights, as they deserve.
The ability to think and act quickly and creatively is the key that enables professionals to advance from tactical PR practitioners to the sought-after strategic planners that are making things happen for their clients. Today, effective communicators not only need to know what to do and why, but they also need to know how to evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen approach and change the roadmap when their effectiveness begins to wane—because it will. The landscape of the PR scene has changed, and new methods, networks, and tactics are emerging almost on a daily basis. While simply disseminating information is still a key component, our focuses have needed to shift to promoting engagement, identifying influencers and developing brand advocates. Take notes; the basic principles for excellence in effective PR? strategy, creativity, integrity, and follow-through.
The easiest way to develop a strategic PR plan is to break it down into four main components: Analysis, Research, Execution, and Reporting.
- Analyze This (and that!): The first step toward a successful campaign is to perform an analysis of all aspects of the PR situation. This leads to identifying
and establishing the communications objectives and metrics for success. Keep in mind that goals and objectives are not the same things. Objectives are clear
and measurable statements based on an organization’s goals. Goals, stated in general terms, articulate an organization’s mission or vision.
- Research: Determine all the relevant outlets and key audiences. Once the objectives and audiences are identified, it’s time to make strategic choices from a multitude of tactical options. Think of it as the WAZE of the planning stage. It will position your message and set you in the right direction.
- Execution: An important aspect of effective public relations is strategically crafting your message to build relationships and engage your audiences in conversations. At this stage, you need to formulate the timeline of the plan and begin executing the tactical components of it.
- Reporting: Now is the time to measuring results and evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign, report on its reach and results. It is important to be able to articulate quantitative and qualitative measurements of effectiveness. This is for both you and your client. For you, it’s a running journal of your conversations, placements and outstanding opportunities, and for your client, it is putting their investment right where they can see it.
Sometimes when we start working with new clients they think we have a magic wand and have the ability to make them overnight sensations in their industry. While our goal is always to gain as much relevant and impactful exposure as we can, PR planning and best practices need to be weaved into the fabric of a company in order to return the value expected. So think quick and creatively and put a plan in place for success–after all, failure to plan is like planning to fail!