Lee Groeger - 12/04/2023
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And if your fiscal year is a calendar year, there’s a good chance it’s a pretty stressful time of year for you, too, as you put plans and budgets in place for 2024. If public relations is in your marketing mix, whether you’re supported by an in-house team, a consultant, or an agency, alleviate some of that stress by avoiding these common PR planning pitfalls.
Not defining a core objective
One of the best things about PR is that it’s relatively fluid, especially in comparison to other marketing disciplines with more rigid parameters. But as flexible as you’re able to be with public relations initiatives—from pitching press to creating social media content to communicating with shareholders—everything should be driven by your main objective.
As you look to the year ahead, don’t think about what your PR program should look like; think about the number one thing that would move the needle for your business and use that as a navigation tool to guide conversations about how PR can be used to support that objective.
Not setting goals
Once you’ve set a main objective, it’s time to set some goals along the way to help you stay motivated and accountable along the path to success. Various approaches work for different teams and organizations, but each goal should check off a few boxes.
Goals should be:
- Specific– what, when, and where?
- Measurable– showing some form of proven growth (e.g., improved SEO ranking, increased website traffic, higher social media engagement, etc.)
- Achievable– realistic given your existing resources, capabilities, bandwidth, etc.
- Strategic– in alignment with your core objective
Putting these metrics in place will provide you with criteria by which you can actually measure and report progress and success.
Not scheduling check-ins
The set-it-and-forget-it approach has its place, but it’s not here. Tempting as it may be to rest on the fact that you’ve got a good plan in place and let the chips fall where they may, failing to keep an eye on how things are moving along throughout the year can cause unnecessary confusion and scrambling when it comes time to evaluate success.
Whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or even just mid-year, commit to revisiting and revising your PR efforts, as needed. This is the time to take a pulse on progress, consider any new information that’s surfaced since annual planning, make sure timelines are still accurate, and reconfirm everything you’re doing is optimized to support your objective.
Not creating a timeline
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen team suffer for lack of organization. Creating a PR calendar or timeline before the start of the year is an easy and helpful way to get everyone on the same page and really just prioritize.
Personally, I like a bar chart (program elements on the Y axis, timing on the X axis) but you can set it up in whatever way makes the most sense for your team. Once complete, you’ll have a high-level snapshot of your year-at-a-glance. Not only does this clarify what your program looks like, it also illustrates the fluctuating resources that need to be invested into PR throughout the year.
There’s one really bad reason to continue doing something and this is it: because it’s how things have always been done. If that hits home for you, you’re not alone. It’s more common than it should be, and while sometimes I want to grab someone by the shoulders and yell, “if it’s not working, stop doing it!”, I also know it’s often a byproduct of static leadership, poor communication, or lacking resources.
One of the most valuable tools you have in your PR planning toolkit is your performance data to date. What PR initiatives were the most productive over this past year? Were there any endeavors that weren’t necessarily planned for, but resulted in positive outcomes? Conduct a thorough retrospective and figure out how to replicate or invest more in those areas.
Not segmenting your audiences
If the success of your business is determined by one singular customer profile, you can skip this part. Oh…everyone’s still here? OK, good, because this is important.
While the goal of PR is to represent, and communicate on behalf of an organization, the only way that messaging truly resonates with its intended audiences is when it is created for them, and with them in mind.
If, like most organizations, you have multiple audiences, account for each of them in your PR planning. This will impact areas such as which media outlets set your sights on, the verbiage or tone in your messaging across communication platforms, how you target paid social media campaigns, and more.
This advice can be used whenever you’re in planning mode, not just at the end of the year. The same goes for 3E PR’s services! Need help with your PR program? Drop me a line any time.