The first step in developing an effective business communications strategy is defining your goals and objectives. As you define your PR goals, consider the following key questions:
What do I want to accomplish with my publicity initiatives?
In other words, what results or outcomes do you hope to achieve from your publicity efforts? For instance, do you want to drive increased traffic to your website? Do you want to raise general awareness of your products and services, or do you want to raise awareness of a certain aspect of your company, such as a charitable program you’re currently sponsoring? Be as specific as possible, compartmentalize your goals where appropriate (as different types of goals will call for different types of initiatives), and divide each goal into measurable objectives.
What metrics will I use to measure progress or success?
Public relations is notorious for being hard to measure, and in many cases, it is difficult to fully measure the impact of your public relations program or strategy. That is why it’s especially important to determine suitable metrics ahead of time for monitoring the progress and results of your publicity initiatives. Breaking your PR strategy into components during the planning process will make it easier to measure outcomes and set target goals. For instance, you may break your strategy up into 5 categories: public speaking engagements, networking events, media placement, special events, and community/charity initiatives. Each arm of the strategy will have its own sets of goals and objectives, for which you can develop metrics.
Remember that metrics will vary depending on what part of the strategy you are measuring. While audience reach or quantity of leads may be suitable metrics for public speaking engagements and networking events, they may be less suitable for community and charity activities. You must also consider less tangible metrics too, such as quality of audience or leads.
What timelines do I have, if any?
Consider your publicity objectives in light of other business goals, and the optimal time frames for achieving those goals. Which publicity objectives need to be aligned with other business objectives? Timelines ensure deliverables for your objectives and lay out a schedule for reaching your goals.
What is my budget?
Aside from time constraints, budget allocation will have the largest impact on your marketing and PR initiatives. Consider what you have for your overall marketing and PR budget, as well as what portion makes sense to allocate specifically toward your publicity goals.
General Advice for Setting Goals and Objectives
Where goals express end-points and ultimate outcomes, objectives are strategic steps along the way to reaching a goal, and can be expressed in concrete terms. Objectives therefore lay out the plan for achieving a desired goal, and can be used to measure the progress or determine the efficacy of your PR strategy.
When formulating objectives, be sure to distinguish between output and impact objectives. Output objectives relate to production output, while impact objectives relate to the effect of your PR activities on the target audience. In PR there are generally 3 types of impact objectives: informational (message exposure, comprehension, or retention), attitudinal (creating, reinforcing, or changing attitudes), or behavioral (creating, reinforcing, or reversing behaviors).
Remember, the marketing and PR parts of your communications strategy will most likely have similar goals and should be considered in relation to each other. Finally, keep your objectives clear, measurable and realistic. Many people use a SMART acronym to help them keep their PR objectives manageable:
Specific – be specific when articulating your goals and objectives
Measurable – choose relevant and suitable metrics to measure progress or results
Agreed – it is important for all relevant stakeholders to agree on proposed objectives
Realistic – keep objectives realistic by breaking larger or more complex objectives into smaller ones
Timed – employ timelines to ensure objectives have clear deliverables
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