Planning for PR Impact: Defining Your Desired Outcomes

FrankWilliamsby Frank Williams

In my most recent article, I discussed the importance of planning for impact.  By this I mean that instead of starting with desired outputs, such as sending a certain number of press releases or posting a certain number of items on Facebook, you should begin by discussing your desired outcomes.  Put another way, you should begin by considering what impact you want your public relations program to have.

In last month’s example, we put ourselves at the leadership table of a fictitious trade association, the N.C. Widget Manufacturers Association, and established the following possible big-picture public relations goals for NCWMA:

  • Position NCWMA as the leading advocate for widget manufacturers in North Carolina.
  • Position NCWMA as the trusted source for information on the widget industry in North Carolina.
  • Foster public support for the widget industry and translate that into support among legislators and regulators.

Once you have established your big-picture communication goals, you should define more specific objectives.  Once again, these should NOT be output objectives, but rather outcome objectives that define what behavior, attitude or opinion you want to achieve from a specific audience in a measurable, time-sensitive way.

Potential public relations objectives for NCWMA might include:

  • 35% increase in organic search traffic on the NCWMA website resulting from terms indicating users are searching for information on the widget manufacturing industry in North Carolina (by the end of the calendar year).
  • 10% increase in the percentage of NCWMA members who rank the association as a “highly trusted” source of information on the widget industry in North Carolina (by the end of the calendar year).
  • 20% increase in the number of Twitter followers by the end of the calendar year, with a minimum of 60% of total followers being from North Carolina.
  • 60% of North Carolina citizens surveyed prior to the start of the legislative session view the widget industry favorably.
  • 15% increase in average monthly Twitter engagements (re-tweets, likes, mentions) by the end of the legislative session. 
  • 20% increase in average monthly Facebook page engagement by the end of the legislative session.

These are a few very simplistic examples of potential public relations outcome objectives that relate to the big-picture goals outlined in my previous article, Planning for Impact.  These objectives assume that certain other processes, such as an annual member satisfaction survey and a public opinion poll to measure citizens’ opinions, are in place. 

The big-picture goals we discussed last month define WHY you are engaging in public relations activities. The objectives in this article clarify WHAT behaviors, attitudes or opinions you want to impact, and in what audiences.  Next month we will discuss identifying strategies that outline HOW you work to reach your objectives.

Frank L. Williams

Frank is the founder and president of Pioneer Strategies.