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’