Strategic PR Planning 101

Strategic PR Planning 101

With year-end a mere two months away, most of us PR professionals are in full strategic planning mode for 2019 with clients. With the end game being a solid and comprehensive strategic PR plan that clearly establishes shared expectations and measurable results for the new year.
 
Successful strategic PR plans are built on three key elements: objectives, strategies and tactics. Sounds simple enough – right? But for many honing in on these three key elements can be a tedious and long process. Below are C&C’s top tips on how to streamline the process and build a winning strategic PR plan.
 
Strategy vs. Tactics
Interestingly enough some still confuse the two as being one-in-the-same. They are not. A strategy involves developing a game plan focused on long or short term communications objectives and how to achieve. While tactics are the action-items carried out to achieve them. Knowing the difference can help those in the planning process first focus on the overall strategy and then build achievable tactics from there.
 
Who’s in & Who’s Out
Ever heard the expression ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’? Basically having too many people involved in the planning process can ruin it and result in a big time suck. Only key players should be involved in the initial process and each should bring their A-game. At C&C we typically appoint someone as the time keeper in planning meetings to help keep everyone on track. This has been a useful tactic in our planning meetings to ensure no one goes rogue and that everyone stays focused on the task at hand.
 
Set the Mood
The fastest way to get off track is to have participants half in the process. Coming to the meeting with cell in hand, ringer on and ready to still take calls, or be distracted by texts is a big no-no. Look at the time you set aside for the planning meeting as a no-phone zone so that everyone involved is focused. Less interruptions results in a mindful and productive meeting that stays on track (and time!).
 
Be S.M.A.R.T
Keep the S.M.A.R.T acronym in mind when in planning mode: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-oriented. This will help you to really dig deep and identify your top communications objectives and how to best achieve.
 
Specific – this is where the need-to-have vs. the-nice-to-have comes into play. What do you need to achieve to have met your communications goals by year end vs. the ones that would be nice to achieve but are not a deal-breaker for the brand.
 
Measurable – a conversation starter and measurable result marker proven to be successful with our clients when in planning mode is to ask the simple question, “What are the top two-to-three communications objectives that if achieved by year-end is your idea of success.” This will help you and your client clearly define measurable results for 2019.
 
Achievable – during the planning process its important to have hard conversations about what’s achievable within certain timeframes given budget, manpower, upcoming programs/launches, and the overall competitive landscape.
 
Realistic – once you’ve outlined your desired measurable results and what the group believes to be achievable its important to take a step back and ensure that the plan is realistic from a budget, timeline and manpower-standpoint.
 
Time-Oriented – Timing is everything! Once you have developed your plan and checked all the above than you need to map out the timing behind your strategy and tactics to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Good to have provisions in the timelines in case there are unforeseen bumps in the road.
 
Roles & Responsibilities
A critical success factor to your strategic planning is designating roles and responsibilities and ensuring everyone clearly understands them. One weak link in the chain can disrupt the whole process and negatively impact your desired results.
 
As an award-winning, Toronto-based boutique PR firm, Cowan & Company has found these simple steps to be valuable and big-time-savers when in PR planning mode with our clients. We hope these tips help to make your next planning session as painless and successful as possible for 2019.
 
Happy Planning!