Skills Lab: Executing your PR strategy

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Campaign strategies can be some of the most brilliant documents you will come across. However, the best ones must have two key elements: first, an action plan for implementing the strategy; and second, flexibility to update the strategy over time. Too often in PR practice, we see ‘big picture’ documents and strategies being created with good intentions, but not being followed through with real action. These documents are proof that all the good intentions in the world won’t turn your PR strategy into reality, unless you have a great plan to make it happen.

Action plan

Once you have completed your campaign strategy, you may feel like having a well-deserved break. But the best part is yet to come – actioning it. Especially if your strategy focuses on long-term, high-level goals, this can feel like a difficult task. Your best option is to break your strategy down into manageable chunks. If your strategy focuses on outcomes, work backwards to identify the order in which you need to undertake actionable tasks. A natural timeline will appear, such as needing to design graphics or produce a video before posting a Facebook ad. Next, create an itemised plan or Gannt chart to keep track of everything. If you’re looking for a more visual option, software like Trello or Monday can be useful for campaign collaboration and planning. Most let you attach key documents and visuals to each task, and even tag your teammates to notify them when you require their feedback.

Once you’ve planned the timeline for each major goal or project, prioritise one project that will create the largest impact as quickly as possible. Completing this task first will allow you and your colleagues to see the value of your strategy early on and provide justification to continue with the strategy. It’s also motivating, thanks to the hit of dopamine your brain will get when you reach your first milestone.

Once you’ve reached your first milestone, use that momentum to start compiling a plan for what needs to happen next. Consider jotting down some of your initial ideas, and then sharing them with your colleagues to refine and select the best idea or ideas. Then, determine how you can bring these ideas to life! What are the best channels to communicate with your stakeholders? What messages do you want to share with them? What’s your budget? Either way, write down all the steps which need to happen before you can consider your campaign launched. Once you’ve answered these questions and defined those steps, you’re well on your way to hitting your second milestone.

Updating your strategy

Once you’ve started implementing your strategy, you may notice that is has some weaknesses. To quote Pirates of the Caribbean, a strategy should be “guidelines rather than actual rules”. Keep in mind that the strategy is there to direct you, but there is nothing wrong with tweaking your strategy if you need to. Don’t be afraid to adapt as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

For example, it may be part of your initial strategy to post about a certain topic every Tuesday. After doing this for a few months, you may notice that this Tuesday content is not getting as much engagement as content that you post on other days. If this is the case, why would you keep doing it? In these situations, test and trial until you find tactics that are worth keeping. If you’re open to learning and growing, your strategy will only get better over time.

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