Here at Commspromise, we see the last few months of the calendar year as a great opportunity to devote time to comms planning, whether your financial year starts in January, February or April.
Planning your year ahead and writing your PR and Communications strategy can sometimes feel onerous or become a ‘tick box’ exercise if done when under other pressures. However, a well thought out strategy can make a real difference to performance and give your team, and other departments, a clear view on how the PR and communications function works effectively to support the business and its goals. It is also great for keeping a team on track, focussed and measurable. To help you get started here are some top tips:
Make your PR or communications strategy streamlined and relatively short so that it is not too onerous to write and not too long to refer back to. It does not have to be War and Peace – two really incisive pages is far more effective than 20 long-winded ones!
Ensure it supports and complements the firm’s overall objectives: Block out time to read the firm's overall strategy and marketing strategy for the upcoming year. Speak to a few key people and to your team and then block out time to think – really hard – about where and how to focus PR resource. Objectives and tactics are the first things to get down.
Limit your headline objectives to three. Any more than this and the plan may become unachievable.
Choose wisely from your stock of tactics – decide which would be most effective to meet your objectives e.g press contact programme, media roundtables, profiling, social media, news-led PR such as hot topics, deals and cases, appointments, events and seminars, and newsletters and updates. Only include actions you think are achievable bearing in mind your team size and resources.
Make sure you have buy-in for your tactics from the partners who will be involved. For example, some partners may be adept at media roundtables but uncomfortable with social media.
Include a year's plan of timings for awards, directories, financial results and other key firmwide announcements. That way, you can always be one step ahead enabling you to create the absolute best submissions and financials information – on time.
Do not be tempted to leave out evaluation. PR is notoriously hard to benchmark so simply consider, what would success look like for your firm in particular? The answer to this can vary enormously between firms but should clearly link to the firm’s wider goals.
Quickly review your processes. Does your function work in the most efficient way possible? Would you benefit from any new software? Do you have all the proformas and information banks you need to save time dealing with recurrent events such as partner appointments and deals for use in awards submissions?
Lastly, do refer back to your (concise) plan throughout the following year. It is only worth doing if you use it!