Aubia Communications

Map it Out: Planning in Public Relations

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” –Benjamin Franklin

The second step in the four-part Strategic Communications process is planning. As the quote states above, if you don’t plan out your communications, you won’t succeed in achieving your desired results. You need a course of action that addresses how to approach any Public Relations situation, be it a crisis event or a fundraising effort.

What do I plan?

In the 10-step Strategic Communications Plan, the goal, audiences/publics, objectives, strategies, key messages, tactics, timeline and budget are mapped out.

Plan your goal to be broad, encompassing and in line with the overall business goal of the organization. You will get more specific in your objectives. Keep in mind that your goal for a Strategic Communications Plan will address how the organization should be positioned or supported where as an operations plan will address a physical factor.

Your audiences/publics should be particular to your goal. Who needs to know? Who needs to be influenced? Who needs to act? Define your audiences/publics with as much detail as possible.

Objectives help you reach milestones on your way to achieving your goal. There are three types of objectives:

1) Outcome objectives affect behavior, opinion, attitude, awareness and support. These are the more difficult to achieve.

2) Process objectives aim to educate or inform your audiences/publics.

3) Input objectives are measurements of your work, such as how many media mentions you’ve obtained. These help you stay on track toward achieving your outcome objectives.

To accomplish objectives, you need strategies to map out your action. These approaches tell how you will go about realizing your objectives on your way to your goal.

Your plan will be most successful if you can have all the participants speak with one voice. Key messages help you do that. These are the talking points you want your audience/public to remember.

Your tactics are the specific tools you will use in your strategies to reach your objectives. You need to plan your tactics specific to your audiences/publics. For example, if you are trying to reach teenagers, a promotion on Facebook is more appropriate than an ad in the newspaper.

Your timeline and budget need to be planned as appropriate to your strategies and tactics. To stay on track and within constraints, these should be a specific as possible, outlining who does what when with what resources.

Planning is essential to the success of a Strategic Communications Plan. Without planning, you’re just doing tactics without any way of knowing if they will accomplish what you want. That is a chaotic and unproductive way to conduct Public Relations. Try your hand at planning, and I’m sure you’ll see a more directed and dynamic process through Strategic Communications. How do you plan for success?

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One Comment to "Map it Out: Planning in Public Relations"

  1. […] be an integral function to the business, your communications objectives should support what the organization is trying to do to be […]

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