As a diligent communicator, you not only have to plan your outreach activities but also set PR goals and objectives. These goals serve as a roadmap to measure your progress and establish the tangible value of your efforts. By carefully crafting your goals and objectives, you can get a clear picture of what you want to achieve and how to make it happen.
The difference between goals and objectives
Goals and objectives differ in that a goal describes a destination, but an objective measures the amount of progress that must be made to get there.
The way to communicate the outcomes of our effort is through having goals, but they can be vague, abstract, and challenging to measure (e.g., “We aim to grow our share of the market”).
There are three main types of communications goals:
- Reputation management goals – altering perception or sentiment surrounding a client
- Relationship management goals – such as inciting loyalty or boosting positive reviews
- Task management goals – achieving certain ambitions, eg, a percentage uplift in sign-ups, followers, attendance, click-throughs, etc.
Objectives, on the other hand, are what must be met in order for a goal to be considered ‘accomplished’. They should be stated in specific, quantifiable terms, that can be documented, verifiable, and factual.
There are two types of objective – output, and impact. Impact objectives would relate to the influence the actions have on the target audience or stakeholders, while output objectives would just relate to the work that is produced.
Impact objectives come in three forms – informational, attitudinal, and behavioural. Informational objectives focus on getting your message across effectively, attitudinal objectives require measurement of audience sentiment, whilst behavioural objectives aim to build new habits or change ingrained behaviours.
Why are objectives necessary?
When it comes to measuring success, setting clear objectives from the outset is crucial. Without them, you’ll have no way of knowing whether your activities have been a hit or a miss. And if you can’t prove your worth, then why should anyone take your role seriously?
To create effective objectives, work closely with your client to define the level of activity required to achieve success in their eyes. Make sure your objectives are measurable so you can track progress and quantify achievements. Ultimately, your communication goals should be based on the problem or opportunity at hand, and your objectives should be tailor-made to help you achieve those goals.
PR goals and objectives should provide:
- Clarity – Strategically thought-out goals and objectives should make your overall intentions absolutely clear, and demonstrate that you are in sync with your client’s business goals.
- Maximising resources – Having defined deliverables helps to prioritise resources where they are limited.
- Time management – Perhaps the most valuable resource of all, time will be better handled where there is clearer direction.
- Decision making – Knowing definitively what your end goal is, enables you to consider if the activities you are proposing will really get you there, or if alternative actions should be considered too.
- Communication – People communicate better and work more efficiently when they are aware of the expectations upon them.
- Measurement – Quantifiable outcomes provide proof of a real contribution to the enhancement of organisational performance. This is essential to demonstrating success and securing future work.
What does success look like?
For too long, there has been a pervasive belief that measuring the effectiveness of PR is an impossible task. The elusive nature of PR outcomes, coupled with variants such as attitudes, influence, and employee engagement, has made it difficult to justify its real value.
Whilst on the surface, this might make it seem like PR will avoid the same level of performance and budget scrutiny that other departments must accept, it does leave the function incredibly vulnerable when it comes to proving value.
It’s not always easy to give clients adequate answers when they ask us to demonstrate how PR directly enhances their business performance. Without statistical justification, PR budgets and staff numbers are often the first to be cut in times of hardship. Yet, through the effective implementation and monitoring of strategic goals and objectives, the worth of your PR effort can easily be demonstrated and communicated to decision-makers, and that can quite the opposite effect on communications budgets.
How to set PR goals and objectives
As a communication expert, your ultimate goal should be to drive tangible results for your clients, such as increased productivity, lowered costs, strong talent acquisition and retention, thriving revenue, profitability, and/or improved brand reputation.
Start by working closely with clients to understand the desired behavioural changes for their audience. Then, earn their buy-in by presenting and getting approval on your recommended strategies. Most importantly, ensure that your communication measures align with their top priorities for the best chances of success. At the end of the day, the impact of your communication activities can be crucial to your client’s bottom line.
The effectiveness of each activity can be determined by assessing the following;
- The desired business outcomes.
- The target behaviour/s and how this will be measured in real terms
- Any barriers that could prevent the desired behaviour/s from happening.
The process of determining the attitudes of your target audience should incorporate qualitative measurement. Find out what people are thinking by speaking with your media connections, clients, business prospects, influencers, and others one-on-one or in focus groups.
To truly showcase the worth of your PR efforts, it’s essential to start by identifying the attitudes present at the onset of your campaign. This initial step acts as a benchmark for measuring the results that follow. By tracking these levels at the beginning and end of your campaign, you’re able to provide real evidence of the progress achieved.
Measuring the success of PR activity is crucial, but it’s not just about gaining and retaining clients. It’s about ensuring the PR professionals involved are performing at their best while also paving the way for future campaigns.
To accurately gauge success, objectives must be set and expressed in terms of results gained. Simply put, it’s not enough to distribute communication material and disseminate messages – it’s about changing awareness, understanding, opinions, attitudes, preferences, and/or behaviour by target audiences.
When measurable intentions are laid out, PR professionals can easily prove the value of their work and plan for future campaigns. It’s a win-win situation that not only justifies more resources but also informs the attitudes of those involved. So, don’t underestimate the power of measuring success in PR – it’s the backbone of effective campaigns.