A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on Why Research is Important. Marketing strategists understand the need for research, whether or not there is a budget for comprehensive, formal methodology. If you are a student of public relations, then you will know that research is the foundation on which all strategy is built.
In PR, there is a four step process which professionals are trained to integrate into their every day activities. Those steps are 1) Research, 2) Planning, 3) Implementation, and 4) Evaluation. My personal favorite is planning. Since the early days of my career, I have truly enjoyed the planning process for clients and organizations. It’s a challenge for me to take the research that has been done and apply it to a program specifically designed for a single organization, defining the measurable objectives and goals, developing the strategies, and determining which tactics will be most effective.
How many times have you sat in brainstorming meetings where the focus tends to center on tactics that others in the room think should be done? Ideas are tossed around, but there is never any discussion of the overriding strategy behind those tactics. That’s been a pet peeve of mine for as long as I can remember. Why don’t more people ask questions about the business goals? What are the sales targets? Who are we really targeting? When does this program have to begin? How long do we have to accomplish our goals? And those are just basic questions that need to be asked …
Without a solid plan in place that answers as many questions as possible, it’s impossible to determine whether or not the program worked. Whether or not a press release is written or the Twitter hashtag is created doesn’t matter if there isn’t a rhyme or a reason as to why that’s being done.
In my nearly 15 years of corporate, agency and non-profit marketing and PR experience, I’ve seen too many programs and campaigns fail miserably because the organization doesn’t want to take the time to put forethought into the process. But the proof is in the pudding — time and time again, the companies that spend a few days early on asking questions and finding the answers will be more successful than those which impatiently focus on execution.