How to write a media plan: Setting successful objectives


Thanks for joining us for week three of Hearsay’s six-week, tip-driven program focused on helping you create a top-notch media plan. Each week, we’ll show you one of the six most important elements every plan should include to ensure that your campaign is set up for success. This week, we’re covering all the bases for setting successful PR objectives.

Before we dive in, don’t forget to read week one’s post on how to perform research and develop an accurate SWOT analysis. You also may want to check out week two’s post on setting goals.

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Now, let’s talk objectives.

What are objectives?

Fun fact: Objectives are measurable and clear-cut so that you, and everyone else, can see when each objective has been met or exceeded.

Business objectives tend to relate to specific standards of business performance and they can be translated quite directly to PR objectives. PR objectives, on the other hand, should be specified in terms of audience (i.e., who is the PR target?), time frame (i.e., when should the program take place?), and outcomes, which may be further reflected in terms that are behavioral (i.e., did they do what we wanted them to do?), attitudinal (i.e., do they feel about us how we wanted them to feel?), and informational (i.e., do they know now what we want them to know?).

The elements above are used to ensure that objectives are specific and success can be quantified once the PR campaign ends.

To demonstrate clear return on investment post-campaign, your objectives should be meaningful, reasonable, and measurable. This also reduces the risk that your claim to success might be challenged once your program is complete.

Why set objectives?

Despite the cliché that you need to know your destination to tell whether you’ve arrived, a clear majority of PR plans do not begin with clear and measurable objectives.

Thus, when it comes time to measure performance against objectives, few PR programs can prove the extent to which, or even if, they succeeded.

When you set objectives, make sure your objectives are a guide to action rather than a chronicle of activity.

Stating that you’ll send out press releases, book media interviews, or host though leaders at special events are activities that may help you meet an objective. They are not objectives themselves. These are activities and should be tracked separately.

Remember, good objectives identify outputs, outcomes, and business results rather than tasks, strategies, or deliverables.

Five simple reasons for setting objectives

Still not convinced measurable, clear-cut objectives are necessary? Here are five simple reasons for setting clear and concise PR objectives:

  • Objectives create a structure for prioritizing action. Once your direction is clear, so is the sequence of actions you must take to achieve it.
  • Objectives reduce the potential for disputes before, during, and after a PR program is complete. Once the objectives and strategy have been agreed upon by all necessary parties, the risk of disagreement is greatly reduced as everyone works with a single sense of understanding and purpose.
  • Objectives increase efficiency by placing resources where they will make a difference, therefore reducing waste and inefficiency. A clear sense of purpose distills program tactics and focuses assets where they have the greatest impact PR-wise.
  • Objectives help form successful PR plans by focusing attention and action on the criteria by which the PR plan will later be evaluated. Solid objectives provide a clear line of sight. When they share an advanced understanding of the criteria for success, teams naturally work toward those areas that will yield the desired outcome.
  • Objectives set the stage for evaluation by allowing decision makers to determine if the PR program met or exceeded its original objectives. Objectives work best when they are understood and acknowledged by those who are performing the monetary investment in the PR plan. Once you set specific objectives and gain agreement in advance, there can be no doubt as to whether the program met or fell short of the desired outcome in the end.

Ready to get started? Download our free PR Plan template as your guide.

Have you set measurable, clear-cut objectives for 2017?

Want more helpful tips like the ones above plus more? Check out The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage or sign up for exclusive Hearsay content.