Tag Archives: Objectives

Clutching at straws?

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There are a fair few social media apps that I feel are just around because they’re different to the norm, such as Facebook, Instagram, Vine etc but that doesn’t mean they’re any good.

The latest one to come to fruition is an app called Whisper, it is a free iOS and Android mobile app with an associated paid online service which allows users to send messages anonymously and receive replies, basically Facebook/Twitter without the username. It was first launched in March 2012 under the original name ‘WhisperText’. Users post a message which are then published displayed as text superimposed over an image which are similar to greeting cards like the image below:

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It is doing incredibly well for an app that doesn’t get as much mention as big game players, getting on average 3.5 billion page views each month which has got venture capitalists interested, and no wonder!

In May 2013 the owners of the app added a service cost of $5.99 (around £3.59) meaning receiving messages was free but sending messages required payment. In my opinion that was the beginning of the downfall of the app, and the fact that in February 2014 the service charge was made free for ‘most users’ but paid messaging was something that was required for certain users for certain reasons.

I struggle to see the point in this app, I understand that it serves its purpose of a social media app that allows more anonymity than most others but I just don’t understand. Maybe thats naive of me but I’m sure most people would agree that it is some what unnecessary, then again, a lot of people would say that about social media as a whole.

Even though I am a Social Media Executive Intern, I think social media on a personal basis is somewhat pointless, meaning I don’t think many people actually need to read about what you had for dinner or the fact you’re bored, but social media for a business is priceless.

I suppose we will all find out how popular this app is if Facebook tries to buy it in a few months!

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Are you doing social media right?

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Many people think that I just get paid to sit on Facebook all day and don’t do anything productive, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media has to be done correctly to save yourself from the consequences of bad PR for yourself AND your client. There are certain steps in which you should take in order to ensure that you are getting the most out of the tool that has the potential to connect you to so many more people than tradition PR and Marketing allows you to.

A lot of companies who don’t specialise in a communication vocation think that they have to do social media just to ensure that they are keeping up with competitors. What needs to be understood is that it is a free tool and just takes man-hours to make it right. I’ve been to many interviews for PR and Social Media job roles and when I’ve done research in to the company in question I’ve more often than not been left a little let down by the social media already in place.

If you find yourself with fewer followers than everybody else, you need to look at what YOU are putting out on the social media platform, not wonder why people aren’t falling for your spiel. You need to ensure that you are updating regularly, with relevant information to your business (or just what you want to put out there) so that your followers know when to check back with what you’re saying. If you post on a Monday, and then don’t post for two weeks and post on a Friday, followers won’t know when to check back and gradually fall out of the routine of checking back with what you are saying.

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When you think of Facebook and Twitter, chances are you think of your friends or an organisation just broadcasting what they want you to read and there isn’t much room for engagement. In order to gain followers and boost your reputation, you should post content that will generate conversation, don’t forget that this is SOCIAL media and is very much a two way communication channel, use it to your advantage and don’t let it hinder you.

What most companies need to understand is that their Facebook and Twitter feeds are not meant to be glorified ad streams, and need to have good quality content that generates conversation to ensure that followers don’t lose interest. I often find that the easiest way to make people aware of your brand is to not really advertise it at all on social media (within reason, obviously) and a great example of a brand that has got it right is believe it or not, Tesco Mobile. The fact that their Twitter account is more often than not, dedicated to tweeting everybody who tweets the brand with funny, on the line, witty replies is pure genius in my eyes.

Another sin that many people commit on social media, is just auto-post updates across all of their social media platforms. Facebook is incredibly different to Twitter, which is different to Pinterest, which is different again to Linkedin. Look at it this way, you wouldn’t have the same conversation you have with your best friend with your grandma would you? So don’t do it on social media either. Make sure that you connect effectively with each audience to maximise the success of your social media efforts.

It is important to set a social media plan to ensure that there is structure to your posts. Even though many people think that social media is spur of the moment and shouldn’t be thought about to much, there needs to be some sort of similarity in posts so you don’t veer of the mark too much. In order to make sure that there are guidelines, you should figure out the following:

  • Who is responsible for updating your social profiles

Try not to have too many people writing on social media profiles, if your company has a social media team, leave it to them, as silly as it sounds, tone of voice is very important. Consistency is important for keeping your readers interested.

  • How frequently your social profiles will be updated

Figure out a schedule and keep to it, your readers will appreciate the effort of consistent updating and enjoy the content even more.

  • What type of content you will post

It won’t make sense for your readers if you post something extremely serious or sales related to your brand and then post a picture of a puppy with no accompanying copy.

  • How you will use imagery in your posts

Will you include and image in every post? Will your content be mostly images? Imagery plays a big part in how engaging your post is. If a huge lump of copy is teamed with images to break it up, the more likely your readers will finish reading.

  • What tone of voice you will use when posting

This, to me, is the most important of all. If you are writing on a blog and using the tone of voice you would use when talking to your clients, you’re doing it wrong. Figure out whom you are speaking to and adjust accordingly.

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The worst thing a company can do, and I’ve been subject to it, is to delete negative social mentions. It WILL happen, you cannot please all of the people all of the time. I had a dragged out argument with Boohoo over the terrible customer service I had received regarding a problem on their end, and when I commented on their Facebook wall asking for some help because I didn’t know who else to speak to anymore, they messaged me privately and deleted my comment off their wall in order to save their reputation from taking a knock. I personally think that if you publically handle a negative situation, the better you appear to your consumers.

I am no professional when it comes to social media, and I don’t confess to be. I don’t think anyone should say that they are and if you find a method that works for you and your business, stick to it. There are no ‘rules’ that you should follow, and this post isn’t to say that you are doing your social media wrong, but simple hints and ‘guidelines’ to help improve your social media presence. I’ve done extensive research in to social media for the past year and a half, and always kept up to date since starting university in 2010. I did my dissertation on how to be influential on Twitter so I feel I do have some insight in to making it work!

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No such thing as bad publicity?

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Like the title suggests, is there anything such as bad PR? I personally think there is, from both a consumer and a PR point of view. If a brand you like is being publicised in a negative way, you are less likely to want to continue to use the brand, and from a PR point of view, if your client is receiving a considerable amount of negative press, well your job just got a whole lot harder!

An example of this came to light a couple of days ago. As I was on Facebook, I came across a link that was doing the rounds on the social media website that revealed two very popular high street shops, H&M and Topshop, that have stores all over the world. Topshop are all to a custom to a disaster or two in the past, such as the tax evasion and sweat shop allegations but this time after secret filming came to light of workers of a sub-supplier for both stores in China were found to be plucking fur from rabbits who were sadly still alive and go through this every three months once the fur grows back again. The footage was released by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) showing the awful, despicable act.

H&M were the first high street shop to acknowledge the fact that some of their items were being produced in this way and quickly ceased and recalled all items of clothing and took them off their website and off the shelves in stores. I personally think that this is a great show of respect and concern for ethical trading by H&M, and from a PR point of view it is extremely clever, taking a very serious situation and turning in to something that benefits them reputation wise. What H&M didn’t bank on was the way in which Topshop are handling this situation, once again, I find that Topshop have half heartedly halted the sourcing of Angora wool purely because they know they have to, rather than because they genuinely believe in ethical trading like H&M have shown themselves to do.

I say this because they have continued to sell the rest of the stock of the 42 items of clothing that are made of Angora wool, clearly on a money making scheme which is definitely what the point of business is, but sometimes I fear companies do more damage to their reputation in the long haul in what could be a short term money loss situation, and I’m sure Topshop aren’t doing that bad!

There is currently a petition to stop the sales of the remaining stock of the Angora wool garments in Topshop and at present there are just short of 101,000 signatures on the petition and the total needed before action is taken is 120,000. H&M have said that they are going to step up their inspections of its sub-suppliers in order to stop anything like this happening again in the future and has released a statement saying customers who have previously bought Angora products in the past from the store can take them back for full refunds, which is a fantastic approach to take and definitely keeps the respect and loyalty of regular customers but also attracts new customers who wouldn’t normally shop in the affordable clothing store. Topshop is doing the complete opposite and is showing a very poor attitude in such a serious matter that is becoming increasingly apparent to todays society, especially when there are more humane ways to treat animals rather than what was looked over in the past.

Topshop’s PR department need to tread carefully in the following days as it is easy to let this situation turn in to a huge disaster, I personally think that they should just swallow their pride and pull the items now to show that they do actually care about the issue and not all the money that their over priced garments are going to make them in this holiday season!

Much like Tesco’s horse meat scandal earlier this year, the way in which they handled it was somewhat questionable considering the apology they released didn’t sound like they were sorry about the situation, but rather that they were sorry for being caught before trying to pass the blame on to everybody else rather than themselves.

I think that companies who are major players in their sectors should genuinely concern themselves with issues such as the ones spoken about in this blog, purely because it puts a sour taste in peoples mouths, and tarnish’s the brand, a quote that jumps to mind is ‘forgive but never forget’, even though their customers will remain loyal, they will forever be brought up in questionable times.

Crisis management at the ready!

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Christmas Spirit

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So it is that time of year again, the Christmas tree’s are brought out of their boxes, glitter covers the entire house, tinsel as far as the eye can see, and of course the obligatory Christmas TV advert from our favourite brands. There are plenty of new adverts this year, from the nations favourite Coca Cola advert to a brand new tear jerker from John Lewis, and it is nice to see big player getting in the Christmas spirit!

Coca Cola

Coca Cola always do a fantastic job at creating different variations of the classic advert. Coca Cola really pulled it out the bag this year though. After hearing the devastating news regarding the Philippines, the huge company decided that they were going to suspend their ad campaign this Christmas in the Philippines in order to donate all the money that would of otherwise been spent promoting their brand. So far Coca Cola have donated $2.4million in cash and in-kind contributions. There are still some cynics about who think that Coca Cola have done this as a marketing strategy to make them look like do gooders, but in all honesty, if it raises over $2million for the Philippines, who really cares what the motive is?! From a PR perspective it is a fantastic move, considering the sales for Coca Cola are falling, this stunt will really work in their favour!

John Lewis

Following John Lewis’ 2012 Christmas advert where we seen the heartfelt relationship between a snowman and his snowlady, I thought it would be pretty hard to follow that up with something of the same level. The powerhouse department store threw a massive £7,000,000 at the advertisement this year which is aptly called Bear and the Hare:

This extremely expensive advertisement sees the unlikely friendship between a bear and a hare. The beginning of the ad see’s the run up to christmas and that the bear hibernates so has never had a Christmas before. The hare then hops off to John Lewis and buys the bear a present, long story short, it’s an alarm clock that wakes the bear up on Christmas day and all the woodland creatures have a fantastic day and enjoy the festivities. The slogan of the advert is ‘Give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget‘, it is a really endearing advert and attracts all ages, so it’s a job well done by the creative teams over at John Lewis, is it worth £7million though? Probably not!

Sainsbury’s

Now, this well known supermarket decided to go one step further than most brands we have become accustomed to, and created a 50 minute feature film that can be viewed on YouTube and actually premiered in a cinema in London. This cleverly heartwarming advert is constructed of short video clips that have been filmed by real families in the UK around Christmas time to show what real Christmas looks like.

The advert really pulls on our heart strings when at the end of the advert, a family with three young children are filming a message to send to their father who is currently on tour with the Army. I thought that this was a clever PR move for Sainsbury’s, especially how they handled the bomb shell that someone over in the editing team failed to spot the Co-Op lemon torte, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding in plain sight behind an unsuspecting gentleman explaining his Christmas dinner! Wouldn’t have liked to be the person who must of been the topic of conversation in that meeting!

Marks & Spencers

Marks & Spencers always puts on a great Christmas Advert, and this year doesn’t disappoint! The theme this year is Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood and The Wizard of Oz and features some famous faces that must have cost a fortune to get on board! From heart throb model David Gandy, to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to the hugely loved Helena Bonham Carter, it has it all! It is a truly magical advert that fits right in with Christmas, it is beautifully executed and definitely draws you in to watch the entire advert without turning over! Very well done M&S!

Debenhams

Debenhams have tried to replicate the success of their 2012 advert with the statement red coat this year, which features two beautiful coats, one male, one female. I find that this is one of the only adverts that is obviously advertising their own brand, which isn’t a bad thing, I just think it is missing something special even though the advert is beautifully shot and edited. The advert contains the singer, Foxes, who has done a slow, Christmassy version of her well known song Youth, but again, it lacks a special Christmas element for me personally!

I must say that all the big players have pulled out all the stops to get in the Christmas spirit, but my favourite advert this year has to be John Lewis’ The Bear & The Hare, there has been so much effort put in to the production and the story is sentimental and has a great Christmas story at the centre of it all! £7million well spent!

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Do machines really need to do everything?

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I read an article this afternoon about search engine giant Google and the fact that they have patented plans for software that slowly learns how you react to things you see on social media networks. In layman’s terms, the software will mimic the way in which you usually respond to updates and messages from friends and relatives to help you ‘cope’ with the daily processes. The software sifts through the messages you receive and conducts an analysis of continuing interaction and goes on to flag messages that demand a more personal response.

I find it hard to believe that social media is that much of a chore that people need a robot to respond to your friends and family, or even just followers on your Twitter account! This entire concept just takes the personal touch away from what should be a conversation between two or more people!

A software engineer at Google, Ashish Bhatia, said that the popularity and use of social networks and other types of electronic communication has grown dramatically in recent years. It is often difficult for users to keep up with and reply to all the messages they are receiving. Again, I find this very hard to believe that a standard person finds this task difficult, that said, I do believe that businesses find it hard to maintain the amount of messages they receive, and I can see the benefits of having an automated personal response rather than a bog standard repetitive message to all your followers.

The system analyses the responses you initially make so it can eventually start making suggestions of its own that, ideally, should be indistinguishable from those of an actual person. Which asks the question, what is the point. Why do you need this? Does it automatically publish the responses? What if it got a response wrong and made a huge mistake? How could you answer that? This whole concept has many flaws to it, I can see the benefit to a company who wants to please its consumers, but I think it’s just another step in the wrong direction. Some things need to be personal and come from a real person in my eyes!

The article from BBC News went on to say that instead of writing every response individually or clicking buttons to “like” or forward messages, the software would generate suggested responses which a person could simply agree to be posted on their behalf. Now what is the point? The person would have to read the message that they received and then read the automated robot’s response and then decide whether or not it was suitable. Just answer the message! It seems like an awfully long winded approach to just simply writing out a response that takes no more than two minutes anyway!

An example given in the article was:

In response to learning that an acquaintance called David has changed jobs, the system might suggest: “Hey David, I am fine, You were in ABC corp for 3 years and you recently moved to XYZ corp, how do you feel about the difference, enjoying your new workplace?”

That to me reads like an automated response. If my friend told me that they had changed jobs, I wouldn’t feel the need to tell them that they had been working in their previous position for however many years. I think it is a really lazy way of keeping in touch with people!

I find that we have spent so long, especially in Public Relations, telling people why social media is so important, and why you should make every effort to personally respond to relevant messages personally has been totally disregarded with this software, and I find it a strange move on Google’s behalf. Social media allows human-to-human interaction, and I personally think that shouldn’t be messed with. As the old age saying goes, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!

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Scheduling Tweets – Good or Bad?

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During my time interning at various different PR agencies, one of my many tasks was to compile a list of tweets that I could schedule to go out at different times of the week. A question that has been raised many times is, is this a good or bad idea? I personally believe that there are both positives and negatives to scheduling. As any PR practitioner would agree, the job is extremely demanding, and though social media is arguably one of the most powerful tools there is to hand, it is also extremely time consuming, and other tasks may be more urgent than others.

So, what are the positives?

  • Allows you to free up more time for bigger, more demanding tasks
  • Allows you time to find relevant stories to tweet about
  • You can plan ahead of time and ensure you tweet about important days or events relevant to you or your client

That said, the negatives I find are:

  • Seems less personal and doesn’t allow for you to engage in conversation with followers, which is the whole point of social media
  • PR is an exceptionally faced paced environment, so planning tweets doesn’t really make a huge amount of sense, you cannot predict what is going to happen in the world, and what will have an impact on you or your client, so you might miss out on posting important information
  • You run the risk of being repetitive, especially if you auto-tweet ‘thank you’ tweets to new followers or followers who have retweeted something on your profile
  • You can often sound impersonal and an information base apposed to a point of contact for your consumers or client base

I think that programmes such as Hootsuite can be useful to PR practitioners but I do disagree with completely depending on scheduling tweets for weeks at a time. As an up and coming practitioner myself, and after writing and researching so much in to social media, I fully understand the importance of social media and all it has to offer to public relations as another planning element. It is definitely time for businesses and organisations to open their eyes and start to take note of the importance and rewards this tool has to offer them. I have been to many interviews and carried out many internships throughout my time at university, and the majority of agencies or businesses have asked me what I thought of their social media presence, and I have always been honest and said exactly what I thought. All to often I have looked at blogs and twitter feeds that haven’t been updated for months, some even years, which is sad to see, as it is probably one of the only free PR tools we have!

That said, and taking all I have said in to consideration, a healthy and happy medium of scheduling tweets and taking the time to plan and construct useful tweets, but also taking the time to follow up posts once they have been published and actually interacting with followers is the only way to have a really successful twitter feed!

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Planning – is it important?

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In PR terms, yes, planning is exceptionally important. It is a perfectly good question to ask though, but the answer to ‘why plan?’ has various different answers. My answer would be to apply some order and organisation to the task in hand. I’m a person who likes to know when I’m doing something and how I’m going to do it. Whether that is in work life, or simply organising a night out with friends!

Planning applies to everything, in most, if not all professions. Whether it is to complete campaigns lasting numerous years, or simple activities such as an event or new publication. Overall, planning is important!

So, here are some different answers to the question:

  • Focuses Effort

It allows you to see what is necessary and what is not when planning PR efforts. It allows you to work on the right things apposed to wasting your time on things that won’t have any real beneficial outcomes. There is a distinct difference to working hard and working smart.

  • Improves Effectiveness

Working on the right things will have a much more valuable overall effect on your workload. Time and money will be saved, thus allowing you to allocate more budget and work hours to bigger tasks. Working to planned objectives gives targets to aim for, a sense of achievement when they are reached and effective benchmarks for measurement.

  • Encourages the Long-Term View

All tasks that you carry out tend to be more successful if you look at the long-term view. If you know what is going to happen if you carry out a specific task, it is easier to predict its success. It helps to produce a structured programme to meet future and current needs of the organisation.

  • Demonstrates Value For Money

Budgeting is extremely important in any business, and even more so in Public Relations as some budgets may be quite small, but the outcome needs to be similar to those campaigns of a huge budget. Planning allows you to be realistic with what is necessary and what isn’t.

  • Minimise Mishaps

Planning allows you to consider different scenarios and the outcomes, which in turn allows you to see which is better suited to the task in hand. It also allows you to consider all the possible problems and issues you could potentially face and put contingency plans in to place in case things do go wrong.

  • Reconciles Conflict

Planning allows for conflict to be rectified sooner rather then later. When working in a team of PR practitioners, there are bound to be conflicts of interest and ideas. This stage allows practitioners to confront these issues and come to some resolution that benefits the campaign.

  • Facilitates Proactivity

It allows practitioners to set their own agenda, which is extremely important. PR is known for reacting to media demands or crisis management but it is also about realising what is important and what is not.

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The different roles in Public Relations

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To people who don’t really know much about PR, don’t really understand the depth in the vocation, and how many different roles there are. It’s not just a quick tweet or a press release, it is much much more than that!

Glen Broom and David Dozier identified that there are two dominant job roles in Public Relations:

1. The Communication Technician

The communication technician is not involved in making organisational decisions detrimental to the business but carries out Public Relations programmes such as writing press releases, editing house publications and designing web pages. Known in every day terms as a Public Relations Executive/Practitioner. This role is not heavily involved with the research or evaluating stages, but more concerned with the implementation.

2. The Communication Manager

The communication manager plans and manages Public Relations programmes, counsels management, makes policy decisions and so on. Basically this role is the decision maker, they will delegate jobs to the communication technician to carry out etc.

Within the second category, there are three main types of managerial roles:

1. The Expert Prescriber

The expert prescriber identifies Public Relations problems through research, develops programmes and implements them. This practitioner acts as a specialist on communication issues but to a large extent, independently of senior management.

2. The Communication Facilitator

This, to me, is considered one of the most important roles within PR, as the communication facilitator acts as a go-between ensuring that two-way communication is evident between an organisation and its consumers/customers. This role acts as a liaison, interpreter and a mediator.

3. The Problem-solving Process Facilitator

This is another integral role in PR, this person helps others in the organisation to solve their PR problems, this person acts as an adviser on the planning and implementation of programmes. This role is usually fulfilled by specialist consultancies.

Dozier also identified two middle-level roles that are carried out between the manager and the technician roles in a business:

1. Media Relations Role

This is a two-way function where the person carrying out this role keeps the media informed, and informs the organisation of the needs and concerns of the media. In other words it involves working with the media for the purpose of informing the public of the organisation’s missions, policies and practices in a positive, consistent and credible manner. This usually means coordinating directly with journalists who produce features in the mass media. The main goal of this job role is to maximise positive coverage in the mass media without paying for it directly through advertising.

2. Communication and Liaison Role

This role is incredibly important in terms of the organisation’s reputation at events and meetings etc. This is a higher-level public relations role representing the organisation, and positively creating opportunities for management to communicate with internal and external publics. This role is all about building networks and relationships with beneficial people.

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Golden rules of objective setting

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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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