Golden rules of objective setting


Every PR practitioner knows that setting objectives is a huge part of planning PR campaign, and if you get this crucial stage wrong, it could be detrimental to the success of the entire campaign.

According to Anne Gregory, in her book, published in 2010, Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns, there are a list of golden rules of objective settings that PR practitioners should take in to account to make sure the objectives are clear and relative to the overall goals.

1. Ally to organisational objectives

In other words, the overall objectives should combine with the overall objectives of the company or client you are working for. If the campaign doesn’t abide with the objectives of the company, it will do more harm than good and wouldn’t be beneficial to your client. A PR campaign should always support the overall objectives so as to not waste anybodies time.

2. Set public relations objectives

It is incredibly important to set objectives that are achievable, this way, as a PR practitioner, you can be safe in the knowledge you can deliver to your client efficiently and achieve what you set out to do. It is important not to promise results that are outside of the control of PR practitioner’s.

3. Link to aims

All objectives should clearly support the aims so they contribute to their fulfilment.

4. Be linked to specific publics

There is no point stating that the people you are aiming the campaign at the ‘general public’ … that could be just about anybody! Ensure you link your objectives at a particular group of people such as ‘people ages 20 – 30’ or ‘people who are employed’ etc.

5. Be outcome focused

Ensure you differentiate the outcome objectives from the process objectives. It is easy to state how many brochures or surveys are being distributed, but it is crucial to have objectives to how the overall outcome is going to happen and how you want it to happen.

6. Research based

It is incredibly important to ensure that all objectives have a research based so you can prove why and how the objectives should be successful. If prior research shows that 30% of the public act in a certain way, it is acceptable to say the campaign will increase that percentage to 50%. However, if you do not know if 30% of the public act a certain way, and you set a 50% target based on no research, it could be very dangerous.

7. Be singular

Ensure you focus on the separate steps to meet the aims of the campaign. Objectives will eventually be evaluated, so objectives with multiple steps are difficult to evaluate.

8. Be precise and specific

It is not good enough to say your campaign is going to create awareness, that is an obvious statement to make. You need to ensure you say who you are going to make aware of your campaign, where, why, when and how. This needs to be incredibly obvious to people looking at and consuming the campaigns efforts.

9. Do what is achievable

There is no point setting objectives you feel aren’t attainable. This doesn’t benefit anybody, your client will be unhappy with the outcome and your reputation will be damaged. If you are ever unsure of the outcomes of ideas, pre-test them!

10. Work to a timescale

This is one of the most important things for a PR practitioner to prioritise at the beginning of a PR campaign. It is better to be explicit about the timescale in order for realist results to be delivered. Allow for the worst and that allows for back up plans to be put in to place with as little stress as possible!

These 10 rules have helped me understand what is important in planning a PR campaign, and shown me that the objectives stage is incredibly important. I have been able to nip bad habit’s in the bud in terms of terminology such as saying the ‘general public’, which I would have done if I didn’t know these rules of objective settings!

I hope this helps any readers!


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