The vital importance of investing in strategic planning

07 Jun, 2017
By Malcolm Cupis

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A PR or marketing communications campaign is a bit like a journey, taking you from where you are now to where you want to be. In order to make any journey efficiently you need a map that takes account of where you are starting from, where you want to get to and where you are passing through along the way. If you set off without a map you may get to your destination eventually after wasting a lot of time and money, the likelihood is that you will never get there at all.

It might sound obvious, but it’s vital that your PR and marketing communications activities share a common strategy, so that you are consistently reinforcing your messaging to your audiences. It would be ridiculous and confusing, to say the least, to have a PR campaign that communicates different messages to your marcomms activity, even though you might find that you can successfully target different audiences through different tactical tools and that some audiences might have subtly different requirements to another and therefore need to have subtly different second level messaging.

The approach to identifying a successful strategy is exactly the same, regardless of which tactical implementation methods will best reach your audiences, so a strategy should always be defined before any tactical work starts, otherwise you run the risk of communicating the wrong things to the wrong people, which is not only a waste of time and money, but which can be actively harmful to your campaign.

So, where to start? The first thing to understand is that a successful strategy has to be based on facts, and not beliefs. If you aren’t dealing with facts you won’t be starting from the right place and that guarantees that you won’t be successful. It is vitally important that you have a thorough understanding of your market, your products and services, where you sit in relation to competitors, attitudes of customers and potential customers and opinions of influencers. The more information we have, the more accurate a picture we can establish of where we are starting from and what we have to change in order to build awareness and positive perceptions of your business, products and services.

We then need to agree the destination. Where do you want to go? What are you trying to achieve? What are your objectives? Are these objectives realistic within the budgets you have available? What can we deliver for the investment you are able to make?

Next we have to consider the audiences. Who are we trying to communicate with and influence? The more we know about them, the more directly we can reach them and the more successfully we can influence them.

Knowing the audience helps us to establish messages that we can consistently reinforce throughout the campaign to ensure that they know your business, products and services exist and to give them tangible reasons to choose to invest in them rather than a competitor. These messages have to be phrased in language that will resonate with the audience and motivate them to behave as we want them to.

Finally we can build a plan. Taking you from where you are to where you want to be. This will identify which tactical tools will be most effective within your budgets to successfully reach your audiences, change their opinion and positively influence their behaviour.

It is only when we know where we are starting from, where we are going to, who we are communicating with, what we are communicating to them and how best to get the message to the audience that we can then really successfully start to implement the campaign.

Malcolm Cupis

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