“So, you’re in public relations (PR) – what can you do for me?” That was the opening line of someone who I met at a business networking event some time ago.
The conversation made me think. Shouldn’t your objectives, and who you want to communicate with, be your starting point before thinking about ideas and activity?
Clarifying public relations objectives comes from listening
I was reminded of that again recently when I saw a written account by a PR agency. It detailed how they missed out on winning some business because their pitch focused on what they had been successful in delivering for clients. Unfortunately, they pitched what they thought the potential client wanted as opposed to listening, and understanding, what the potential client needed. That’s not to say you don’t challenge thinking because there can be confusion about what’s important. Clarifying objectives is the cornerstone of effective public relations.
Press and media is just one part of public relations
Often, there are complex communication issues and a range of stakeholders that need to be considered. It’s not all about press and media profile or building followers via social media. They may well be part of the mix but there are usually many other elements too. What’s important is to start with clarifying objectives and then building the communications activity around that. If you can’t get a clear grasp on what you want your public relations to achieve then maybe you’re be better off not trying. Achieving media profile should not be an objective in itself and thinking in that way is a poor place to start, don’t you think?
Defining public relations objectives
The truth is, public relations can help you in many different ways. If you want your public relations to be effective then you need to have clarity about what you are seeking to achieve. That has to be the starting point. What are you focusing on?
- Raising awareness.
- Building trust.
- Stimulating demand.
- Establishing reputation.
- Building/enhancing reputation.
- Repairing reputation.
- Stimulating debate and/or interest.
- Motivating employees.
- Creating news business partnerships.
- Building goodwill.
In a nutshell: One thing is for sure, you need to know where you are heading. If you don’t then how will you know whether you have arrived? It’s getting that clarity around objectives that takes the time. Once you have that you’ll often find ideas will flow and that your efforts will be more laser focused.
What public relations objectives are you focusing on and what success have you had?
Debbie Leven is a PR Coach who works with small business service providers to get them noticed on and offline to help build their brand and their business.
Image credit: Debbie Leven