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The Firefly blog features news, views, buzz and ideas around the PR and communications industry.
Social trends, PR and social media tools, communications strategies, attention grabbing WOM campaigns, entertainment hotspots, running integrated and pan-European campaigns, safeguarding reputations and managing crises are just some of the topics we’re talking about.
How to write good PR objectives
September: it’s the time of year for finalising PR plans. Questions that will be on many clients’, and prospective clients’, lips will include: “how’s the year going?”, “what are the challenges?” and “what is critical for next year’s plan to move towards our longer-term PR goals?”
One thing is for sure: if you don’t know, you don’t stand a hope in hell of reaching the PR destination you want.
A PR plan with no goals, no measurable targets and woolly objectives is like driving around with your satnav on, but no destination programmed in. It might be interesting scenery with a sing-along play list, but is it a waste of time and petrol? And without a clear destination to aim for, where will you end up? Possibly back where you started.
I have judged thousands of PR award entries and lamented on the subject of woolly objectives. I have also written about the importance of PR planning and how to write a PR plan. And right now I’m signing off PR plans for all our clients for the next few months or for next year. Solid PR objectives are critical.
Here’s where objective setting can go wrong:
Some objectives are beautifully written motivational phrases but lack any numbers, timeframes or value (argh!). Many focus on methods of measurement and shy away from adding hard numerical targets (thoughtful but pointless). Maybe there is no timeframe (so it becomes open-ended). Perhaps there are no milestones, so it seems like a long slog and it can drift off course (no KPIs and mid way review points). Sometimes the objectives just reflect on the wrong points and encourage huge amounts of effort and budget to be spent on completely the wrong type of activity.
Here’s a check list for what constitutes great objectives:
- Forward looking – consider the past, present and future to derive a formal statement of a dream (tempered by realism)
- Realistic – if an objective’s too hard, the team aren’t motivated to achieve it. Too easy and it’s not a challenge
- Actionable – the objective must be within the team’s area of responsibility, and they must have the authority to achieve it
- Clear – if objectives are unintelligible, people may achieve something very different to what’s intended
- Communicated – don’t assume that teams know what objectives they’ve been set simply by the tasks they’ve been given
- Agreed – therefore more likely to be achieved
SMART objectives are often bandied around and that’s a good approach. SMARTS include all of the above, plus evaluating and reviewing processes.
Here’s an example of what a good objective looks like:
When writing a PR plan for the next x months (timeframe), ensure that each campaign (quantity) has clearly-stated objectives which must include a budget, a start/review/completion date, and at least two other forms of measurement (quality, money) which are undisputable numbers or dates, easily measured and not ambiguous or subjective.
Even better would be if PR objectives can be related directly back to the client’s overall business objectives – for example lead generation, market share or share of voice. That’s what we aim to achieve for our clients here at Firefly.
If you’d like a PR campaign with clear objectives like this which will deliver the results you want, do give us a call. Also, I run courses on Objective Setting for Successful PR campaigns. Let me know if you’d like more information.