One of the great benefits of teaching public relations at a university is the regular reminders I receive of the standards I should be striving for as a PR consultant.
This was brought home to me this past week, as I assessed the communication strategies submitted by post-grad students as part of an assignment.
As a marker, I was looking for communication strategies which included measurable objectives – you know, those ol’ SMART goals taught in a plethora of courses across the globe.
When you’re pulling together a PR plan for a client or employer, it can be easy to lapse into writing PR goals which are less than SMART – particularly if some clients don’t demand them (or aren’t aware of them). They’re the rubbery targets which sound pleasant, even exciting, but miss out on the vital detail which can hold the PR plan to account.
Imagine for example you’re promoting the “Fishing’s the Funnest” parade. That’s a cute community parade featured in Holly Throsby’s novel, Goodwood. (It’s a mystery set in a small Australian town, featuring both lovable and loathsome characters – and I highly recommend it).
If you wanted to sling some warm and fuzzy, non-SMART PR objectives into promoting that parade, the list might look like this:
- Encourage people to participate in the parade
- Encourage people to come out and watch the parade
The problem with those goals of course, is how vague and easily attainable they are. “Sure, I encouraged people to come to the parade – didn’t you see the two families standing at the roadside?” could be a valid outcome.
To make those smarter PR goals, they could be reworked as follows:
- Gain 20 new parade registrations (Goodwood is a small town), with participants submitting official registration forms by 5pm Monday 13 April
- Increase the number of residents watching the parade by 25% on the 2018 attendance records
And so on.
If you employ PR practitioners, whether consultants or in-house, this is a timely reminder to scan your communication plans for those SMART objectives.
Last year, the Public Relations Institute of Australia launched a new Measurement + Evaluation Framework which goes into detail on what might be measured in good communications strategies; there’s a wealth of ideas within it and it’s another good reason to be a member of that industry body.