Earlier this week, my friend Rosanna Fiske, APR, wrote a piece for the Poynter Institute about challenges journalists will likely encounter when transitioning to public relations. We’re seeing lots of folks making this transition now as ad budgets are squeezing the size of traditional media. The article raises some excellent points about what journalists face when making the transition. And there is so much more to public relations than press releases.

Maze showing pathwayWhen counseling clients, my first steps involve a lot of listening and some planning. I first determine the goals, strategies and objectives and get some idea how the client will measure success. Only after having that understanding should we open the toolbox to see which tactics can help achieve those goals.

If you don’t know WHAT you want to do, you can’t possibly know HOW to do it.

So, how does one do this without getting bogged down? By asking some key questions and doing some research. Some baseline questions I consider with each project:

  • What are we trying to do?
  • Who’s our competition?
  • To whom are we talking?
  • What do we want to tell them?
  • What do we want them to think about/do?
  • What do they currently think about us?
  • What is critical to our success?
  • What are you concerned about?
  • What is working currently?
  • What do we do better than anyone else?
  • How will we know we’ve been successful?

Once we have these answers, there’s normally a path that’s developing to take us to our destination. We can add to that plan and build in checks and balances along the way. As we make our way down the path, I use the answers to help remind the client why we’re doing certain things. For larger projects, I also plan a mid-point check to make sure we’re still on track.

Have any of the answers changed now that we have more information?

From my position as outside counselor, it makes me smarter. From a business standpoint, it helps me achieve meaningful results. That’s my system and I’m sure others have planning systems that work best for them. What are your methods?