By Robyn Brown

“He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” – Proverb

 “How much more effective could your organization be if it spent more time working the plan and far less time planning the work?” – Chris Curran, writing in CIO.com

 In a recent CIO.com article, Curran makes the case for incorporating a more lean and strategic planning process that is aligned with core business objectives. He states that planning itself never really ends, and we can often get in trouble by spending too much time planning and not taking action. Although Curran’s article was from the perspective of IT, the notion transcends departments.

 Case in point: Much work is involved in writing and developing the public relations plan for a client or individual project. It involves hours of conversation with clients, team members and other stakeholders, message development, defining measurements and heavy research into media targets, editorial opportunities and other tactics – even time spent creating a presentable document format. To be perfectly honest, the planning phase is one of my favorite parts of the media campaign process (other, than the results!). 

However, once the last period has been added to the document, once all seven parties have signed off and updates completed – the real party begins. Your plan is the blueprint or roadmap that fuels your media campaign. Many teams develop a plan but fail to reap the benefits of that plan because they focus solely on planning as an end unto itself without creating an implementation process for that plan. The truly successful PR team can take a well-thought-out plan and create a meaningful program with lasting results.

 Here are some additional thoughts on maximizing the use of a plan:

  • Periodic checks can help assure the team that they are still on the correct path and aligning tactics with objectives. It is a working document; if you are having to dust off the cover of your plan or cannot locate it on the company shared drive, then it is not being used correctly.
  • The plan should not be so inflexible as to prevent you from grabbing a solid opportunity whenever one presents itself.
  • To be truly successful, the plan needs a leadership champion or an integrated management team to lead action and change.

 In our experience with clients, PR plans implemented year over year have the power to create and maintain changed perceptions among audiences, while also considering new communication channels.

As public relations professionals, one of our goals should always be to develop a well-thought- out program for our clients and organizations to realize the most worthwhile outcomes. I recently visited public relations students at Loyola University Maryland and could hear the ROPE (Research, Objectives, Programming, Evaluation) model repeated in many classrooms – something I recalled from my college days, as well. The ‘R’ or Research step in ROPE should never be overlooked, but it also sits beside Objectives and Programming.

 Further, as a lifetime Girl Scout, our organization’s slogan ‘be prepared’ has been ingrained in my thinking from an early age. Then again, it’s what you do with that preparation that really counts!

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