In the book, Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, chapter 18 is about planning and organizing campaigns. Throughout previous chapters the book discusses tactical aspects of public relations, this chapter focuses more on the campaign management and programming. An important thing to know before beginning the planning process is when making plans for a campaign it is important to make a written plan because it improves effectiveness overall. The campaign has a greater impact as well if utilizing a written plan.
In the stages of development the book suggests consulting with the client or management first. This gets them involved and gives you the basic information you will need to make your plan. The next thing one should do when planning a campaign is research. There is never enough information you can know about your subject. When researching there are various sources to utilize. One source the book mentions is surveys. These will make you more in tune with the target audiences attitudes and perceptions. Another good source to utilize is the organization itself. The organization can provide you with marketing research that has been conducted, it can also help you to understand why certain things have happened or how they have been done. Other resources the book lists are references, questions, analysis of communications, focus group interviews, media databases and demographics.
The book goes on to discuss the elements of the plan. In every PR plan there should be eight elements. These eight elements include situation, objectives, audience, strategy, tactics, timing, and budget. First the situation part of the plan. The situation refers to summarizing the organization’s relationships with it’s publics. This is where the PR professional should get an idea of why the program is needed and may be the most important aspect of the planning process since it is your job to ensure the campaign is necessary and a good thing to spend money on.
Objectives are the next part of the planning process. The book explains that the campaign may have many objectives if it is large enough or it may just have one. There are two basic kinds of objectives. Informational objectives increase awareness of an issue, event, or product. This can be harder to measure than the other kind of objectives which are motivational objectives. Motivational objectives are meant to change attitudes and opinions with the idea of modifying behavior. These are more bottom line oriented.
The next part of the plan is the audience. It is vital to know the audiences and that there are primary and secondary audiences to consider. The book then goes on to explain the strategy part of the campaign. This relates to what the campaign will be based on and keyed directly to the objective. Strategy should reflect audience key interests and key selling proposition.
The fifth element in the plan is tactics. This is the actual execution of and materials produced in the campaign. Timing is the sixth element and all campaigns should be done in a timely manner relative to what is going on surrounding the campaign. Another important element of planning a campaign is the budget. There are staff expenses to be familiar with as well as out of pocket. The eighth and final element of the PR planning process is evaluation. Did you meet your objectives? A good way to find this out when using informational objectives is to conduct before and after surveys. For motivational objectives a way to figure out if you met your goals is to see if there is an increase in sales since the campaign began.
Chapter 18 was really important because it taught students and those who read it that there are more than just tactical aspects to the PR career. There must always be a plan first and reasoning behind the types of tactics you are using. Planning takes a lot of time and I now know how important a well written and though out plan is in advance before tactics. Now I know when I am in my profession the written plan is extremely important to utilize and should always be thought of when conducting campaigns.