Talking Tactics Series: What Makes A Great Public Relations Plan

Editor’s Note: 4media group is pleased to bring you our Talking Tactics series, which will focus on the importance of various tactics in building masterful PR plans. A tactic is an element within a masterful plan, and it is important. But before we can talk too many tactics, we have to establish what makes a plan great. The first in the series features an interview with 4media group C.O.O., A.P.R and industry veteran, Michael Clark. Following a discussion on what makes a great PR plan, the series will undertake a discussion of how various tactics can inform and bolster plans, leading to clear communications and big results for clients. 

Welcome to the first in our talking tactics series, where we’ll examine what sort of tactics can be meaningful to putting together great public relations plans. While getting straight to the ‘nitty-gritty’ is always fun, we realize that before we can launch into it, we need to answer a bigger question: What makes a great public relations plan?

To answer that question, I’m sitting down with Michael Clark, 4media group Chief Operating Officer, and Accredited Public Relations Professional to discuss what elements really make an excellent PR plan.

The Public Relations Society of America breaks down public relations plans into a four-step process.

  1. Research – define the public relations problem.
  2. Plan
  3. Implement
  4. Evaluate

Clark says 4media group is an agency uniquely positioned to deliver each element of an excellent campaign.

“We can carry campaigns across the finish line because we have the capacity to lay such a strong foundation with research – but we also have the abilities to meet our clients in all four stages,” Clark said.

Once the research portion is finished, that research is used to determine the goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics associated with a campaign.

The APR defines goals as the desired outcome of your plan of action – they ought to be more broad, global, and ‘big picture.’ Objectives are shorter-term and designed considering what behavior or action you want to change. They address the desired result in terms of an opinion change or behavioral outcome. The strategies are the part of the plan that lays out a road map to achieving your objectives. They stop short of indicating specific actions but look more at how you can demonstrate outcomes. Finally, there are the tactics: these are where we get into exactly what you’ll do to bring the plan together.

Differentiating between goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics can be confusing. But thankful for 4media group and our clients, Clark provides a classic example that paints a clearer picture.

“What is the goal of chess?” Clark asks. He’s looking for an easy answer: “to win.”

But he continues: “Thing is, a win looks different depending on who’s sitting at the table. For example, let’s say you’re playing the world’s greatest chess player – your goal may shift from winning the game to lasting longer than the previous person who played him. Your strategy can be thought of as your broad approach, something like, ‘okay to meet my goal, I need to take up as much time as I can.’ Your objectives are measurable: so you might say to yourself, ‘I’m going to use five moves in the intro., or strategically sacrifice two pawns to stay in the game.’  Finally, there are your tactics – where you pick up that pawn and move it to D4.”

Once you understand how to differentiate between goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics, you have a unique theoretical framework for approaching each one – even if it has to do with a brand or industry you’re unfamiliar with.

“One of the greatest struggles from clients, PR firms and more comes in not understanding the value of establishing this framework,” Clark said. “You have to establish strong, measurable objectives that can help you reach your goal. The idea is for the client and the agency to come together and say, ‘look, we’ve never played chess against Bobby Fischer before, so we have to be realistic in assessing what a win is – and in deciding how we can achieve that.”

The rest of this series will deal with the tactics that can exist inside of a public relations plan, and how each of those can contribute to a larger goal.  Through the course of this series, we’ll take a look at how the following tactics can be utilized as a part of masterful PR plans: PR surveys, satellite media tours, native media amplification, and shopper solutions.

If you’re interested in working with public relations professionals who can put together a plan for you, it’s kind of what we do. So you can always shoot us an email.