Whether we knowingly or subconsciously apply them, we use strategies in the face of most every challenge — from navigating a busy day to meeting business objectives.
In a game of spades, a player’s strategy may involve pulling the spades from a competitor’s hands, while long-distance runners employ a variety of strategies to reach their goal. For example, “slow and steady wins the race” can avoid early exhaustion and ensure that a runner makes it through the final stretch.
A poorly thought-out strategy can contribute to failure, while a strong, sound, thoughtful strategy can lead to triumphant victory.
The word “strategy” is derived from the Greek word “strategos,” which means “military general.” The first treatises that mention the idea of strategy date back to the Chinese, during 400-200 B.C. The most famous early references to strategy are found in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” written in 400 B.C. — a treatise that remains the most influential strategy text today.
But what is strategy in the context of the work we do? Mind Tools suggests that it starts by asking a key question: What do we need to do to win in our segment of the market? This requires gaining a detailed understanding the client and their market, and then mapping out the best possible route to success.
As PR professionals, it’s important that we understand what it takes to put together a comprehensive strategy. While we aren’t in the literal trenches, intelligent strategy is perhaps the most essential aspect of our role within an organization. We are responsible for thinking clearly and rationally about the needs of each client, setting goals and establishing a plan for how to meet them — taking into consideration the challenges we will encounter along the way.
Depending on who your client is, the audience you’re trying to reach and the goal you’re planning to accomplish, the strategies you employ will vary. Here are five common PR strategies to consider as you build your plan.
- Word-of-mouth campaign strategy: Encouraging organic conversations about your brand, product or organization by setting a buzz-worthy message in motion through cause marketing, video or other media
- Influencer strategy: Leveraging the reach and influence of a celebrity, social media personality or niche expert to share your message
- Steady cadence of communication: Providing an even, repetitious flow of information in order to engage an audience — particularly internal audiences — and drive home a message
- Top-of-mind strategy: Focusing on communicating your message as often as you can, in multiple places, to keep your brand, product or organization top of mind with your audience
- Third-party credibility: Obtain validation from trusted journalist or third-party experts to provide “proof” of your product or brand’s credibility
Monique Farmer, APR, is the creator of Anvil Ready, an online communication strategy builder that aids the communication professional in creating communication plans. You can also follow Anvil Ready’s useful tips for communicators on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. She is also a Professor of Practice at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Farmer previously worked in corporate communications for ConAgra Foods (now ConAgra Brands).
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