Planning, while not as sexy or exciting as execution, is vital to delivery of client communication goals and objectives. Working from the same plan also smoothes client and team relationships, diminishing hiccups. Everyone should, literally, be on the same page. And while the process may be tedious, the result of a group signoff is freeing! Now you and your team can make things happen.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Take a deep breath, bring on the caffeine and start the planning process.
Hunt and gather. Begin by amassing all available research on your client and the industry. Look at what has worked for them and others in similar businesses and what has not. Analyze competitive marketing communications. Scour previous plans for good ideas that “got away.” Review your onboarding notes for nuggets of client wisdom that can help.
Dig deeper. Chances are your client has troves of data that the PR firm can use for setting objectives and strategies. Even “old” data such as a U&A study can be helpful. If there’s little or no budget for customized research, consider low-cost tactics like online surveys and informal focus groups of users and/or stakeholders.
Change up the typical brainstorm. Find ways to eliminate the intimidation of having to bring a great idea to a table of your peers. Get out of the office. Brainstorm in pairs rather than a large group. It can be daunting, but a carefully choreographed creative session with your client can also pay dividends.
Settle on the best format. A client recently told me that once he discovered the CEO’s preferred presentation format, he achieved much more success with his recommendations! Find out how decision-makers need to get information and square it with the way your team is most comfortable to help determine the ideal format for agency and client.
Tweak, tweak, visit and re-visit. One of the keys to a successful PR plan is built-in flexibility. Make sure certain recommendations are “tiered” or “piloted” ahead of full implementation and and that all elements have goals and measurement built in.
Gain buy-in ahead of presenting. Keep your direct report in the loop by collaborating and vetting ideas ahead of time to assure certain agreement before you present the plan. This practice helps strengthen your agency-client bond in the process.« Lessons From The NYPD’s Twitter PR Backlash | When PR Pros Pitch Media: Do This, Not That »