PLAN IT – DON’T WING IT! 26th February 2020/in AMEC Member Article, News, Special Interest Groups Andy West /by Julie WilkinsonAndy West, Chief Development Officer – Hotwire @westofcenter Sitting as I do across both new business activity and client consultancy for my agency, I am often left confounded by the lack of attention paid to campaign planning. I’m troubled by the transactional mentality that pervades the industry which, if left unchecked, can serve to undermine the credibility of our profession. We seem to jump head first into PR programs without stopping to ask the key question – why? When clients appoint a new agency, agencies are often asked to jump onto what I call the moving hamster wheel of activity. In other words, to pick up where the last agency left off and to continue doing what the previous agency did. Which presumably wasn’t good enough because that agency just got fired. And the quarterly cadence of measuring and reporting that the majority of business operate under means the skill of proper planning has been lost. The value of PR is sadly underestimated so the idea of stopping for, say a month, to step back and look at what needs to be done is frowned upon by many. In short, far too many PR campaigns stand accused of winging it. What’s to be done? Well – as most practitioners know, the starting point is to deeply understand what it is the campaign is looking to achieve. Setting clear metrics with measurable objectives is the absolute minimum. We’ve been banging on about this for many years and with the help of the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework and the Measurement Maturity Mapper, we’ve come a long way. There’s no excuse today not to have in place clear metrics that relate back to a business goal, the key phrase here is business goal and then from there, a strong communications outcome. Often times best practice stops there. Having defined great metrics, we sit back, congratulate ourselves and then dive into the work itself. This might be an over simplification, but the excitement of starting or the demands of the business or of the client, often overtake the need for research, insights and strategy. Whereas if we are true to our profession and to our instincts, we should take a while longer to analyse the objectives and work through a proper planning process to ensure the campaign meets the needs of the business. To do this – the team at Hotwire is schooled at following a relatively straight forward eight step process that forms the backbone to our planning and strategy process. This is summarized as: 1. Define the business problem you are seeking to address. Do this in collaboration with the client and lean on strategy specialists to define a problem statement that encapsulates the whole reason why communications is being deployed. 2. Give thought to the target audience you are seeking to influence. Too often, the definition of the audience is too wide or overly simplified. Remember – not all audiences are created equal and multiple audience targets require multiple campaigns. Aim to go deep into your audience and its persona and not to fail by going to broad and shallow. 3. Work with the client to clearly articulate the desired change that the work will have on your target audience. It’s here that you should define your outcomes and impact according to the AMEC Measurement Framework definitions. 4. The trickiest part of the process is next – finding the hidden truth. This is mind-opening truth that will help you unlock the strategic possibilities of your campaign. Think of this as the “aha” moment – the statement that makes your client stop and think about the challenge you are addressing. 5. Having done that – you should now seek to identify the brand advantage or product capabilities that address the hidden truth. This is the secret sauce that hopefully your client and its product/service/brand uniquely have that will solve the challenge. 6. And from here you are on the homeward path to a great campaign – you can define the central thread of your campaign. This is the essence of what the work needs to communicate. 7. When you have the strategic thread, you can work with creatives to find that single minded idea that will bring your strategy to life. This is the award-winning piece – the creative genius that sets you apart. 8. Finally, once you have campaign mapped out and the creative juices flowing, you can close the loop by going back to the business problem and quantifying the metrics that will demonstrate how you have addressed that problem. Great planning and strong strategy rely upon this process. Overlook it and you risk everything. Taking time to get it right is fundamental to delivering on the business impact asked of us by clients. It prevents us from stepping on that ‘hamster wheel’ of transactional activity and from winging it based on gut feel and client bias. It ensures we are true to our calling as communications consultants and that we deliver on what’s going to impact the business. In short, it’s the essence of our profession. https://amecorg.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/AMEC-Wing-It.jpg 331 449 Julie Wilkinson https://amecorg.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Large-amec-logo-master-1024x232.png Julie Wilkinson2020-02-26 14:18:262020-03-04 10:20:04PLAN IT – DON’T WING IT!