Client Planning Should Resemble Meticulous Preparations for the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Client Planning Should Resemble Meticulous Preparations for the Lewis and Clark Expedition

In Stephen Ambrose’s book “Undaunted Courage,” readers learn about the courageous Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the advanced planning and preparation that went into such a grand, historic adventure.  It got me thinking just how important a fraction of such planning is for a client’s public relations program.

Depending on the nature of the agency/client relationship, PR plans can go many different ways.

But there are some key objectives necessary for every plan.  They include:

  • Setting the parameters of a PR program and the appropriate expectations of results with clients
  • Providing guidance on program priorities
  • Establishing a roadmap for tactical execution

Usually, the account executive spearheads the development of a plan in conjunction with other members of an account team, and certainly with the insights of the client’s PR and marketing leads.

From my perspective, each PR plan should be original to a client, given its circumstances, yet still draw upon the best practices of the agency.

Furthermore, the account executive should confirm the form-factor of such a plan.  Is a narrative proposal in Word, a PowerPoint presentation, or an Excel spreadsheet with tabs the best way to communicate the agency’s thought process?  Ask your client before embarking on one vs. another.

It should go without saying, but any plan should be built on sound research, outlining key issues and trends related to a client’s business and market space, and include target audiences, competitors, and influencers.  Brainstorming among client team members is one effective way to generate fresh ideas, and to develop strong communication goals, strategies and tactics in support of the client’s overall business objectives.

A detailed PR plan should consider the following program elements:

  • Situational analysis
  • Share of voice and social amplification
  • Influencing the influencers
  • Target verticals
  • Target audiences
  • Business goals
  • Communication goals
  • PR strategies and recommendations
  • PR tactics (may include such things as editorial calendars, and speaker, award and event research based on the program’s direction)
  • Target influencers (media and others)
  • Budget
  • Calendar of activities
  • PR metrics
  • Any optional program elements for client consideration, such as analyst relations

At its heart, a PR plan establishes the communication objectives, strategies and tactics toward reaching a client’s business goals.  Such materials are crucial to ensuring that all key constituencies – from executives to line-of-business and marketing leaders – are aligned with the direction of the program.  Such a plan serves as a beacon, and ensures that everyone agrees with the program’s elements, metrics, budget and results.

And much like Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery, achievements will be celebrated.

Philip Anast
Senior Account Director
Philip has been building, managing and executing PR programs for technology providers since 1995. Using the power of storytelling and influencer relations, he has launched new companies, brands and products, resulting in market penetration, market share growth and corporate acquisition for such clients as HP, Language Analysis Systems, Motorola and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Prior to joining Amendola Communications, Philip worked at Chicago-based PR firm Tech Image, serving in various roles over his 15-year tenure, including managing client programs, providing strategic counsel, pitching new business, growing client relationships, teaching best practices and managing finances. During that time, he served several clients targeting the healthcare/HIT sector, including NEC Display Solutions, IBS (now Iptor Supply Chain Systems) and Cleo. Philip also has worked in the technology practices of Hill and Knowlton and Porter Novelli. He began his PR career at U.S. Robotics and 3Com. Philip holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University.
Tags: , , , , , ,
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *