Objective Setting: The Lost Art

23rd January 2013

Before we as PR professionals begin any program or campaign, it’s imperative that we set goals and objectives to guide the strategy and more importantly, measure our results. Setting objectives can be a daunting task, but it is a necessary evil that must be done.

When doing so, it’s important to remember that objectives must be meaningful, measurable and reasonable.

Meaningful: Objectives need to be aligned with the company and communications objectives. If objectives aren’t meaningful and don’t link to the larger organization, they can fall by the way-side without receiving executive attention.

It’s important that objectives also speak the language of the business. Filling objectives with too much marketing and PR jargon and you’ll not only lose the interest of executives but will find it hard to prove the value of your programs on the business.

Measurable: Objectives must be measurable both conceptually and practically. Key objectives will usually include words like “increase” or “generate”. Placing a value next to each objective shows immediate impact to executives and makes it easier to show trends over time. Measurable objectives provide important benchmarks so you can see where you have been and also plan where you want to go next

Reasonable: Make sure that objectives are attainable. Don’t set objectives that are too high or don’t support the business objectives. It’s important to get input from all those that will be evaluated to make sure that each objective is sound and reflects the activities of the business.

A few helpful tips from Cognito:

1. Think about what senior management is interested in and how you can show benefits from PR. Remember the business goals – what is the company trying to achieve?

2. Look at the various activities you’re doing and figure out which ones are the most meaningful to report on.

3. Set KPI’s based on anticipated activity and previous benchmarks

4. Don’t forget to track activity to be able to show trends and benchmarks.

5.Track competitor activity. You’ll be able to provide industry insight to executives and determine if your activities are actually distinguishing you from them.

6. Focus on a defined media space that is important and relevant to your business.

7. Review your reporting methods and revise objectives regularly. Whether you’re setting objectives for a year of a specific campaign use these tips and a guide and you’ll have measurable objectives that are relevant to the business.