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Hope is not a strategy

Hope is not a strategy

Hope is not a strategy

As said by Vince Lombardi a great football coach with an even better winning record, hope is not a strategy. I used this quote as the blog headline because a football team would never step foot onto a field without a play book. What’s yours? Right now, it’s more important than ever.

Did you get the WIN?

The last two or three weeks have focused on getting the WIN (What’s Important Now). Zionsville Chamber restaurants have gone from bustling businesses to small crowds to selling take out only to becoming mini-markets with fresh produce. Retailers have taken store fronts to online operations. And professional services are using Zoom more than ever.

Now that we’ve worked for the WIN, what happens?

For the short-term we’re living with time on our hands. It’s a good time to stop, think and plan. What happens in the weeks and months ahead? How will you promote your business through this time and after it? Let’s be realistic, there will be an after with a new reality.

Decades of data show businesses that promote themselves through an economic downturn come out stronger than the competition during the downturn and when the economy swings back to a stronger position. Here’s a framework we use to create public relations plans for clients.

If you had a plan in place for 2020, take a look at it as soon as possible. Plans are made to change; how should yours change? I beg of you don’t start with cutting the budget. Instead, think about your customers and audiences. Think about new mindsets. Chances are your customers will be thinking much like you are right now. With this in mind consider and write down (yes, write it out):

  • What are your goals? Use the Rule of 3, which is a productivity technique focused on achieving three meaningful outcomes. The Rule of 3 comes from J.D. Meier’s book on agile time management, Getting Results the Agile Way. It creates focus and outcome.
    As we move forward in this new business climate, focusing on doing 10 things well isn’t realistic. But we can focus on three goals for business and achieve them.

  • What public relations tools are in place that you can use to reach your goals? Study after study shows that it takes four to seven touches for someone to remember your company, your message and act when they need your product or service. These tactical touches could include email, social media, media relations, advertising, brochures, word of mouth, events and more. Start with what’s available and build, if needed.

  • What’s your company message? How should your message change in our new world? Maybe it’s ok as is. Review it. Whether you have a small staff under 10 people or a team of thousands working globally, employees should know and understand the company message and goals. Employees are your word of mouth promotional tool. If your company is struggling with message, take time to either have a team member prepare a message or consider a qualitative study that lets customers, vendors, employees and others talk about the company. This is a process that creates an authentic message because the words, phrases and stories come from those closest to your business are your true message.

  • What’s the plan and budget? Again—don’t cut the public relations/marketing budget! With goals, tactics and message ready, outline the plan and assign who’s managing or doing each tactic. If there’s no one with expertise to manage an area of focus or you just don’t have time, consider outsourcing. Remember, professionals working in public relations are hurting too right now. Let’s help each other! Each tactic should have a cost for the budget. Finally add a tactical calendar by month to your written document. Too many times company leaders think there’s “plenty of time” to work toward a promotion or an event. When we work with them to prepare a work plan, the client quickly sees the actual time it takes. Now that we all have time and focus spend an hour outlining the actual tactical plan. Make columns titled: what needs to happen, when it should happen, who is responsible and completed yes / no.

  • Who’s holding the team accountable? The final public relations strategy should have one project manager. Each month (at a minimum), the team should review progress using the tactical calendar and a measurement dashboard. What can you measure? Social media traffic, website hits via Google Analytics, open rates on newsletters, coupon redemption, employee turnover and the list goes on and on. A strategy with measurement reports creates a living document that when used wisely meets your three goals.

A written public relations plan creates accountability. A good public relations strategy is easily understood by the entire work team, and it is a few pages. We have one client that uses an Excel spreadsheet with the goals written into cells at the top. The simpler the plan, the easier it is for the staff to understand, participate and support the company’s growth.

Hope is not a plan. Consider this blog a framework to either create your strategy or revise it so we all come out of this historic time stronger—and together.

Have questions or want to talk PR strategy? Give me a call 317-733-8700 or send an email.

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