Is your PR plan good enough (part three)?

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In part two, I looked at measurement and goals. In this section I am looking at Situation – this is where PR Smith grouped what Wadds called ‘Publics or Audience’, ‘Research’ and ‘Insights’.

Who are the stakeholders that PR is trying to influence in order to meet its objectives?

What data is there to draw upon?

Depending on the business category the client may have already done a lot of in-depth research defining and understanding the audience.  Vigorous interrogation of the client organisation is a good first start.

If they have a good media budget it would be worthwhile getting hold of any media planning materials.

These usually define the audience, any insight that they have on an opportunity to drive the desired stakeholder behaviour.

Sales departments have field sales report data that can be combed through, interviews with field sales people who know existing customers can also be very useful.

  • What are they like? (Age, gender, work life – part time / full time, personality traits, class, caste, education background, engagement with their alma mater)
  • What are they concerned about? (Business issues, key product or service considerations, risk level and how they define risk)
  • What topics are they interested in? (Wider business pain points, future opportunities such as deregulation or international markets, competitors / competitive tactics, channel changes within their business)
  • What do they read? (Are there specific blogs or forums? What magazines do you notice around their office? What publications or articles have they referenced? Are there particular analyst houses that they cite?

What are competitors doing?

Again, the sales team and field sales report can be a good source of information, but do your desk research first.

What is being said about competitors?

It should go without saying but run the client brand through the same tests as the competitor brands.

  • Google / DuckDuckGo / LexisNexis / Google Scholar / ScienceDirect – who is ranking what is the nature of the mentions?
  • Social listening
  • Social channel audit for client and competitors. Don’t forget to do LinkedIn, it’s data isn’t well represented in tools, it will have to be done manually.
  • Content audit – what are they saying across channels, how does this differ from the client? How has their content changed? (I would recommend’s Way Back machine to understand how they’ve changed). Meghan Casey’s book The Content Strategy toolkit provides access to some great templates that can be easily adapted for the process

Broader environmental analysis

There are various models for this PEST, PESTLE, STEEPLED etc. SWOT is the most basic framework that most people are familiar with.

All of this gets distilled down to insights. Insights give you something to hang a strategy around.

  • Are there specific needs or passion points that the PR plan can engage with through activity?
  • Do the insights present a picture of distinctive set of audiences?
  • Is there a specific behaviour? Is it time-based?
  • Are the insights more than something you could make as an assumption?

Appraising the audience definition, research and insights work in a PR plan

  • How rigorous has the research been? Does it reflect the total knowledge of the client organisation?
  • Are the audiences clearly defined? Everyone is not a definition?
  • Are there audience segments that have different requirements?
  • Are they distinct or do they suffer from ‘grey man’ syndrome? Do they blend into an amorphous mass or are there key concerns, worries or passion points that PR programmes can align with?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of competitor strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are there broader things that will affect the programme? If not, is there evidence that the possibility has at least been considered?

You can read part four here which focuses on strategy. If you need assistance in developing a communications plan or want an existing plan thinking validated get in touch.

More information
Is your PR plan good enough (part six)?
Is your PR plan good enough (part five)?
Is your PR plan good enough (part four)?
Is your PR plan good enough (part two)?
Is your PR plan good enough (part one)?
Workbook for assessing your PR Plan
The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right by Meghan Casey
PEST analysis on Wikipedia (also covers variants mentioned in this post)
SWOT analysis on Wikipedia
Stephen Waddington’s original post on ‘how to write a PR plan in ten steps’




ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Huawei AppStore and Huawei Video Service heading to Europe in 2018 – – interesting move challenging Google

Apple should shrink its finance arm before it goes bananas – The Economist – the risks associated with Apple’s cash mountain

LG K7i (LGX230I) – Smartphone With Mosquito Away Technology | LG India – if this wasn’t being sold on a legitimate LG site I would question if this was a shanzhai phone with fake LG branding. Its an interesting idea though

Amazon gains wholesale pharmacy licenses in multiple states | – this is going to blow up the share performance of Walgreens, CVS etc etc

Is your PR plan good enough (part two)?

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In part one I talked about setting objectives and factors to consider in assessing the qualities of the objectives.

Goals and measurement

There is a strong argument for having goals and measurement at the end of a plan. Paul Smith (P.R. Smith) in his SOSTAC model puts things in a different (though logical) order to Wadds’ planning order.

  • Situation – where is the business at present
  • Objectives – sets the goal or mission
  • Strategy – overview of how to achieve the objectives
  • Tactics – detailed approach
  • Actions – roles, responsiblities and timings
  • Control – how the process is monitored

The list above belies the interplay across different parts of the plan. In particular between the situation analysis, the goals and measurement and the strategy. If the goals and measurement are unreasonable based on current circumstances, no strategy will work.

What does a successful PR programme look like?

In some of the larger PR agencies goal and measurement setting has benefited from work on agreed standards. These have been derived from industry and professional organisations, notably AMEC.

It is very easy from a measurement point of view to reflect on all the metrics that you could get hold of. But two things generally go wrong:

  • Measures align to ease of recording rather than communications objectives
  • Every metric available (particularly in digital) gets measured

In the first option, programme management gets lost. There is saying ‘what gets measured gets done’. Measures that aren’t alligned to the objectives will cause a drift away from what is needed.

In the second option, you get paralysis or the data recorded being ignored. I have worked with clients where measurement was a 60 page PowerPoint document of all the recorded data. There was no prioritisation of information.

It is helpful to drop these measures through a sieve:

  • Key performance indicators: Behavioural change – fulfilment of a call to action. A high value action on the way to completion of behavioural change
  • Diagnostic metrics: these are measures which help the PR team optimise a campaign. Only the people responsible for campaign delivery will care about them. They are not pertinent for those people accountable or consulted about the campaign. Diagnostic metrics answer questions about ‘why things happened’. The answer of what to change is implicit in the ‘why’.  Real time performance metrics would tend to fall into the diagnostic metric category. A learning marketing organisation cares about, and records diagnostic metrics over time
  • Everything else. Measures that fall in everything else won’t help you achieve the campaign objectives. They won’t shed light on what’s happening under the hood. Don’t look at them, its usually a waste of time

AMEC’s integrated measurement framework provide heuristics that cover the majority of PR campaigns. Use them to prompt ideas, but do not follow them slavishly. As a colleague memorably said to me ‘guidelines are not tram lines’.

I would argue that understanding the audience and whatever communications journey they are likely to go through is key for key performance indicator  development. This goes back to the point that I made at the beginning of the post about the interconnectivity of  situation analysis, the goals and measurement and the strategy.

Once you’ve got your measures you need to define what are the appropriate values of those measures in this case the goals that Wadds talks about in his article.

Quick aside: in many business books goals is used to refer to
a 'super objective'that all the other objectives contribute to.
I hope that clears up any confusion.

If you have your measures done right your goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-focused
  • Time-bound

The goals also need to be internally coherent, if the different measures are co-dependent on each other. For instance it would make no sense to have a larger goal for unique users than page views for a specific website.

Appraising the PR measures and goals
  • Do the measurements and goal values match what you'd expect based on the objectives?
  • Are they internally coherent or do some of them contradict other measures?
  • Are the measures tiered (for instance KPIs and diagnostic  metrics)?
  • Are the goals S.M.A.R.T.?

You can read part three here, which focuses on the ‘situation’ consisting of factors around the audience, research and insights. If you need assistance in developing a communications plan or want an existing plan thinking validated get in touch.

More information
Is your PR plan good enough (part six)
Is your PR plan good enough (part five)
Is your PR plan good enough (part four)
Is your PR plan good enough (part three)
Is your PR plan good enough (part one)
Workbook for assessing your PR Plan
SOSTAC marketing planning model guide | Smart Insights
AMEC’s integrated evaluation framework
Stephen Waddington’s original post on ‘how to write a PR plan in ten steps’

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Majority Of White Americans Say They Believe Whites Face Discrimination : NPR – where to start with this?

Uniqlo’s Four Secrets for Building a Global Brand | Fortune – ‘truth telling’ rather than storytelling

Trump Data Guru: I Tried to Team Up With Julian Assange  – A Republican digital strategist who worked with Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 campaign told The Daily Beast that Nix should not be viewed as a reliable narrator.
“Alexander Nix is not credible at all,” the strategist said. “He is a consummate salesman, and there are numerous instances already out in the public record where he made claims that were not just factually wrong—they were total fabrications.” – we’re still no closer to the truth

No, of that I’m innocent. – Scobleizer – I was reading this and had my fingers covering my eyes. I am just thankful not to be counselling Scoble as a PR person or a lawyer

The Unprecedented Explosion of Smartphones in Myanmar – Bloomberg – this is insane. When I was working on Myanmar programmes some 3 years ago the internet penetration was in single figures

PRCA Study: ROI Concerns Slow Digital Marketing Spend For UK PR firms – I suspect that this is a problem of strategy rather than measurement. Influencer programmes are very much a random bet in comparison to paid media

Online eco-system maps | Coventry University – students self-identify their web habits looking at it you can see how the public focuses on just a few sites

Ikea returns to Aichi after 1970s department store presence proved hard fit | The Japan Times – interesting reflections on when the flat pack giant was sold in a Japanese department store. There was an expectation that products came fully assembled

Clarifying Recent Tests | Facebook Media – interesting move given the panic caused by falling page engagement rates

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

In hindsight it makes perfect sense from a brand and product design perspective: Casio G-Shock makes an action camera

Amazing animation that I found via Matt Muir’s email newsletter

Stussy has put out a look book with the feel of a classic skate film in Hawaii. It has been shot on Hi-8 video format giving it a 1990s feel in terms of aspect ratio, lighting and colour

This week I have been listening to pioneering Balearic DJ Alfredo. It was his skill in mixing dance classics with an eclectic mix of pop and rock tracks that gave the island its definitive sound in the 1980s

Anime floppy disks – hypnotic Tumblr account. Anime artists envisaged a future with much more artefacts. Given the travails of cyber security, the anime future looks more sensible