I'm one of those annoying people that are secretly judging (and correcting) others in my head. When someone says, "hopefully" when they mean "I'm hopeful" or "axe" when they mean ask, or "less than" when they mean "fewer," I'm silently making it right by whispering the correct word under my breath. It's a serious affliction. I have to fight to keep it in check. My husband copes by giving me the "Whatcha talkin' 'bout Willis?" look.
But there are some words that I will not compromise on: Those that describe the tools of my trade. When writing a public relations plan, I follow a simple formula, abbreviated GOST - which stands for "Goals, Objectives, Strategies and Tactics. Each element in GOST stands for something and each is essential to the success of the plan. Following this template also makes it easy to measure the goals once the plan has been executed, because the objectives are already set.
Here's a look at my easy-peasy formula. Follow it and you will have a successful plan.
- Goal: A goal is simply what you'd like to accomplish if the plan was a complete success. Here's an example of a goal for a plan to market a new brand of pickles: "Make XYZ pickles the preferred gourmet spicy pickle at specialty stores in the United States." This goal is barely attainable, and that's the point. The goal really doesn't ever change. It will be the same whether the pickles are in last place, or first place. It's the carrot you're dangling in front of your team.
- Objectives: These need to be measurable. And I know it's scary!!! but they most likely contain numbers. Here's an objective for our pickle company plan. "Sell 20% more spicy pickles than last year." Pretty simple, yet measurable. Sales this year are 100k. We want sales to be 120k. You can measure that!! Another good way to know an objective? Each objective will start with an verb. Here are some good ones: Increase, deliver, sell, obtain, find, decrease, speed up, entice, implement. Start an objective with one of these words, and then use numbers to make it measurable.
- Strategies: These are probably the hardest to understand and the hardest to write. This is why - so many times - I see people confusing goals, objectives and strategies. Strategies are WHY you are doing something. Here's a strategy for the pickle plan. "Collaborate with food bloggers and editors to provide information about XYZ spicy pickles and how they can complement any picnic menu. The food bloggers and editors will lend third-party credibility and endorsement to the pickles" Then, the strategy needs to be carried out. Then, and only then...do we get tactical.
- Tactics are the things you'll do to accomplish the goal, meet the objective and fulfill the strategy. Here are the tactics for the strategy we just mentioned for XYZ pickles:
- Make lists of food bloggers and media who cover food
- Contact media and bloggers with a compelling pitch and value proposition
- Send a free product sample and recipe cards
- Compile results of campaign and report to client
See? It's not as hard as it looks, it just takes practice. Remember the acronym "GOST" when writing a PR plan. It will get you where you need to go.
Claire Celsi is a Marketing, Communications and Digital Strategist. Find out more about how to hire her for your next project.