By Frances Baumler and Grant Tarleton, co-strategy directors
In order to carry out an effective public relations campaign, an organization must have a plan of action. This overall plan that determines what a brand wants its campaign to achieve and how it wants to achieve it can be defined as the campaign’s strategy. According to Ronald D. Smith’s “Strategic Planning for Public Relations,” strategy offers direction in theme, source, content and tone.
The first phase in strategic planning in any public relations campaign is to research.
According to the Houston Chronicle, research in crucial in providing unbiased information, organizational strengths and weaknesses, public relations communications tips and gaining feedback.
In the research phase, it is important for an agency to perform a situational analysis on the organization in order to better understand the opportunity or obstacle that needs improvement. A SWOT test identifies the strengths, weaknesses, obstacles, and threats of an organization. This step looks at the organization’s internal and external environment and its reputation to the public. Considering the public’s perception of the organization is important because it pinpoints the wants, needs and expectations of the organization’s issue. Big Buddy has an advantage, in regards to public perception, because our research shows that Big Buddy is viewed positively in the community.
The second phase in strategic planning is to develop a plan, or a strategy. Having a plan is important because it provides a means to address particular public relations situations. Establishing goals revolves around long-term outcomes. A goal that many are trying to currently accomplish is to become the next president of the United States. The objectives are short term. It is crucial to determine the audience when establishing outcomes so that the campaign is communicating with the appropriate groups. Once the goals and objectives are defined it is time to formulate an action and response. This step narrows down the wide variety of actions available to a campaign and allows a plan to respond to different situations. The final part of the second phase is developing the message. It is important to consider what the message is, who is delivering the message, and how it is being delivered.
The third phase in strategic planning is to utilize appropriate communication tactics. Again, the organization and its publics must be taken into consideration. Who is the target audience? What message is the organization trying to get across?
It is important to think of the costs associated with implementing a tactic and determining whether it is an appropriate route of communication for the organization to take. While a smaller organization, perhaps a nonprofit, may utilize interpersonal communication to interact with and involve stakeholders; a larger company may have the means to invest in advertising and promotional media to connect with their audience. Lagniappe Public Relations has found out that often times a nonprofit budget varies depending on the tactic.
Certain organizational media tactics, such as social media, should be utilized by both corporations and nonprofits because of the broad audience range, user interactivity, and low cost associated. Today, 65% of American adults use at least one form of social media, while 90% of young adults ages 18-29 are consistently using social sites. The Big Buddy Program uses social media platforms to reach and engage this demographic.
The final phase in strategic planning is to evaluate the campaign. Once all the other phases are completed it’s important for a campaign to evaluate how successful they were. A big part of this phase is determining if the campaign objectives have been met. During this phase, the brand or client may decide if they need to modify their communication strategy in the future. A brand needs to make sure they use effective methods to measure each of their tactics. Kapil Arya of Ketchum points out that clients expect to be able to see that their money was well spent and created change. A client or brand can expect to spend 4-7% of their budget on measurement. With the growth of social media and the Internet, there are new tools available to evaluate a campaign. Websites such as TweetReach and SharedCount give practitioners access to social media metrics.
The mission of Big Buddy Program is to provide access to positive role models and learning experiences to children who lack these valuable resources in the Greater Baton Rouge community.
Frances is a senior pursuing a degree in mass communication and a minor in business administration at Louisiana State University. She is a Florida native, and is naturally an avid beach-goer and warm weather enthusiast. Frances currently interns for Community Coffee Company. When she is not writing about coffee, she is taking SnapChats on her front porch of her coffee. After graduation, Frances plans to pursue a career in the communications field. Location? To be decided.
Grant is a senior mass communications major at LSU. He loves to have fun and be spontaneous. His dream job would be to host a talk show but becoming a real estate developer will do as well.