PR Strategy must be set before writing a tactical plan

Last night I was invited to lead a conversation about PR strategy for #PowerAndInfluence, a weekly tweet chat by Ella Minty.

A number of points stood out for me last night after well over an hour of keyboard tapping. Here are some of the most important takeaways about PR strategy:

# A PR strategy should be a short, medium and long-term view of how you plan to achieve objectives. How can you a) know if you are achieving objectives if you’re purely executing tactics without a strategy? A strategy must be devised in order to guide strategic decision making. It’ll help you make judgements on what fits and what doesn’t fit.

# A plan is there to help you puts some meat on the bones of your strategy. Your strategy is your ‘how’ and your plan is your ‘what and when’. It will all relate back to your strategy.

# Evaluation wasn’t discussed too much but I did make a couple of points. 1. Evaluation starts at the beginning of your process. Check out the AMEC integrated framework for guidance and best practice. 2. If you have objectives and goals, you need to consistently monitor your plan and ensure each element is achieving.

# Stop looking at outputs and start to measure and evaluate against the outcomes and more importantly, the impact. What actual impact did your strategy and activity have on the organisation? Without this, you can’t prove anything!

# Learn more about business to talk the language of the boardroom and learn it to ensure you are able to advise for the right reasons – this is something CIPR has been working on for the last couple of years, but we still have a long way to go, to give a full offering to members. Having said that, through my work as Chair of the Fellows’ Forum, I’m working on some high-level masterclasses and developing a mentoring scheme fit for purpose. This will all work towards ‘business’.

# Don’t wait for others to offer you training. It’s up to you as a practitioner to spot gaps in your own knowledge and skills and seek opportunities to learn. It’s what I always say at PRFest > invest in yourself!

# Data leads to insights which help inform strategy. How can you develop a relevant and purpose-driven strategy if you haven’t done research? Some people mentioned that clients or organisation won’t spend the money on the research and some not even on strategy development. My thinking is it’s up to us as PR professionals to challenge this. Demonstrate the requirement and demonstrate the impact it could have. We are not, and should not be, ‘yes people’.

# When setting objectives, you should always be able to follow the objective with ‘so that…’. I always ask ‘why?’ – it’s the most useful question. What’s the purpose?

# Having the confidence in our own knowledge and expertise enables us to ask difficult questions, challenge decisions and give sound advice. Confidence comes from learning, education and experience. Let’s say it again, invest in yourself!

If you want to read last night’s tweetchat just search twitter for #powerandinfluence on June 5th.

Photo by José Alejandro Cuffia on Unsplash

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