Step 4 to Creating Your 2013 PR and Marketing Strategy

Welcome to the last of four articles sharing with you the pr and marketing strategy planning process I’ve developed to be simple, scalable and useful for almost any situation. Let me know if you have any questions or other ideas, I would love to hear from you. Also, if you’d like further help, I am offering free one-hour consultations. Just fill out the contact form at the bottom of this post to get started. Previous posts in this series are available here:
Introduction
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3

Step 4 to Creating Your 2013 PR and Marketing Strategy

Now that  you have derived your goals and objectives from a thorough understanding of your current situation and your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you are ready to map out your implementation strategy.

For each of your objectives, apply the following process:

Objective 1: (Insert Your Objective Here)

  1. Audience Description. Define in as much detail as possible your target audiences and list their characteristics. If you find that you are missing important audience information, don’t let that slow you down. Include in your plan strategies to obtain more or better information. In my opinion, it’s ok at this point to include assumptions, but make sure 1) you know and indicate that it is an assumption, and 2) you include in your plan a way to test those assumptions either prior to implementation or during the evaluation phase. In addition to describing demographic and geographic characteristics, include details such as:
    1. What media do they typically use and prefer? Examples here would include a preference for print or online information, specific publications (online or hardcopy) they commonly refer to, social media use, television use, etc.  
    2. What is their level of knowledge in general and specifically regarding your product/program? Are there other examples of your product/program they would be familiar with? Will you need to include an education component in your plan?
    3. What is their current perspective or opinion of your product/program? Are they supportive, indifferent, or negatively predisposed? Are they motivated to seek out information or will the information need to be pushed out to them?
    4. How much free time do they have? If your audience is very busy, they might not have time to read lengthy articles, for example.
    5. How and to what level will your product/program affect their lives? What are the benefits and possible disadvantages?
  2. Develop Positioning Statements and Key Messages. Using the information gathered above, develop a set of statements that describe how you would like your audience to perceive your product/program. For example, it is unique, it doesn’t take much time, it is affordable, it will solve a current problem, it will support something they value, it is reliable, it is authentic, etc. 
  3. Strategies & Tactics. Finally we come to the fun and creative part. Not that the rest of the planning process isn’t creative, it just may come with a bit of frustration and a headache. But now, using the information you now have about your audience and the messages that you wish to communicate, you are ready to map out the strategy and tactics you wish to employ to achieve your objective. It’s at this point that I usually set up a spreadsheet to keep track of my activities. Your spreadsheet should include the following categories: 
    1. Communication vehicle(s) – This refers to the communication device to be created such as brochure, poster, article, video, audio, speech, press release, advertisement, special offer,  etc.
    2. Communication Channel(s) – This refers to the method of distribution you wish to employ for your messages and communication vehicles such as mail, email, blog/webpage, newspaper, magazine, television, meeting, event, conference, etc.
    3. Action Items - Most important! Who does what? Make a list of what needs to be done and assign activities to the staff or vendors who will be involved the project.
    4. Budget and Resources - Now is the time to estimate both the dollars that will be required and hours it will take to complete the project. Be realistic, especially regarding the hours. If possible, obtain actual estimates even if you don’t expect to undertake the activity for several months. This may seem like a really important element that has been ignored, but I have three reasons for this:
      1. It is inappropriate to assign budget resources until this point. Now that you have decided on a course of action developed from solid information and analysis, you are in a better position to find accurate costs.
      2. For most communication projects, budgets can vary widely depending on the approach, and an idea shouldn’t be disregarded because it seems initially to be too expensive. There are ways to make almost anything affordable if you’re resourceful. For example, events can be sponsored, brochures can be printed cost-effective paper or in one-color, webpages can be developed using free applications, etc. Of course, the usual trade-off is the smaller the budget, the greater the number of hours you have to put in.
      3. By going through this planning process you should have developed a very solid rational for the project you’re planning. This can be very useful if you are presenting your ideas to management and negotiating budget dollars. 
    5. Timeline & Milestones - It is important to have a clear and concise record of the milestones for the performance assessment. Setting specific milestones will increase the likelihood that the solution will be completed in a timely manner. Consider creating a timeline to visually represent dates, milestones, and tasks associated with the performance assessment. Keep the timeline simple enough to be easily understood yet detailed enough to communicate milestones effectively. The actual milestones should be agreed upon by all stakeholders and reviewed regularly.
    6. Evaluation Method - Build in practical ways to evaluate success and follow through on them. This is crucial. If your strategies aren’t working, you are wasting time and money. Evaluation assists decision makers by:
      1. Determining the degree to which communication objectives are accomplished
      2. Assessing how well the communication strategies support larger organizational goals
      3. Justifies and shows accountability
      4. Compares the relative costs and benefits of one versus other or similar communication strategies
      5. Provides input for planning and development of future communication programs
      6. Educates management and other staff members as to costs, benefits, impacts, and problems
      7. Forces the organization to think in terms of outcomes… what are the outcomes of communication and are they what you want?

And there you are. The owner of a fully complete, practical, strategic plan for your 2013 pr and marketing strategy. Let me know if you  have any comments or questions and be sure to take advantage of my free consultation offer if you have anything that you would like to discuss.

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About Skye Rodgers

Freelance writer and public relations professional.
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