It's common knowledge that those who set goals experience higher instances of success. The same goes for public relations. Strong goals set the stage for all the work you'll do in PR and provide the foundation for public relations success.
“All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do. ” —Norman Vincent Peale
So what is a PR goal? In a nutshell, goals spell out the broad overall outcomes you want your public relations efforts to accomplish for the company. They are also the specific results you hope to achieve on an individual campaign. A successful communications plan includes both of these goal types (company-wide and campaign-specific), each providing you with a vital compass pointing you toward success.
Setting Effective Goals
Effective goals are big picture — a global statement of how an issue should be resolved. They are broad, relatively abstract, and may be difficult to quantify on their own, yet they remain realistic. They may speak to an overall company goal ("Support the company goal to increase share of the marketplace for XYZ product."), or focus on a unique short-term result ("Increase awareness of our new product line.")
When developing a goal, it isn't necessary to think about how it can be measured directly in the wording of the goal, though having ideas on how to measure its success will help you in the next step — objectives. Once you've determined your goals, you'll develop a subset of interrelated objectives for achieving them. The objectives will be specific, concrete, and measurable. We'll talk more about that in a later blog post. For now, think of goals as the view from 35,000 feet and objectives as the specific equipment, planning, and route you'll use to get to that altitude.
“The people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact…those people have goals.” —Seth Godin
How to Set Goals
Setting public relations goals and objectives produces several benefits. Together they communicate what is expected of the team, inform the company and leadership about what is planned, quantify the resources needed, improve communication between participants, and facilitate the ability to deliver measurable results.
The strongest goals are developed following a few rough guidelines. Professor Ron Smith, APR, of Buffalo State College highlights six characteristics to consider when writing an effective goal. They are:
- Rooted in the organization's mission and vision of success
- General and non-specific
- Acceptable to management/client
Keeping these in mind, there are three basic three types of goals specific to public relations. Thinking about goals in these terms will help your focus and direction.
- Reputation management goals: Focusing on the identity and perception of the organization, product, or service. For example, “Our goal is to significantly increase awareness of our MRO service.”
- Relationship management goals: Centering around how the organization connects with its stakeholders. For example, “Our goal is to improve communication with our MRO customers. ”
- Task management goals: Achieving specific tasks. Example: “Our goal is to increase sales of our MRO services this year.”
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” —Zig Ziglar
As we mentioned, setting goals is only the first step. However, it lays important groundwork for choosing powerful objectives. We'll talk more about measurable objectives in a future post.
Want to Learn More?
Our new “Power of PR-The Ultimate Goal to Professional Aerospace and Defense Public Relations” e-book has more information about goal setting and the entire PR planning process. And our comprehensive PR Toolkit is full of one-of-a-kind resources tailor-made for aerospace, aviation and defense marketing professionals. Better PR is just a download away.