Career Boosting Newsletter
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A great resource for learning more about key areas
of public relations practice, which will help your career path.
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How to add value by changing the focus from tactical to strategic
Don’t just jump to it when a senior executive says, “We need a brochure to promote our new [product]” or “Please write a press release to support the new product launch” or “Can you put this on Facebook…?” If a manager or client asks you to do this sort of thing without discussing its strategic purpose, your alarm bells should be ringing. What’s the point of doing something tactical if it is not creating strategic value for the organization?
Many communicators are pressured by managers or clients into doing tasks that have little strategic use - they are just short-term fixes. The person briefing you may not understand much about communication, and they may not understand that communication / public relations activities need to support the broad organizational / client goals rather than be a one-off product promotion.
Doing the right thing
Astute management thinkers, led by the legendary Peter Drucker, have observed that doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right. Drucker apparently said there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently something that should not be done at all.
Sooner or later, your value will be questioned if all you do is the low-level stuff or if you do only what you are told by people who don’t understand communication. But how can you turn the conversation to a more strategic approach?
Look closely at the context of the request to see how you can best support corporate goals and objectives. This can be the foundation for preparing the communication plan responding to the request, but directly supporting corporate and operational priorities.
In speaking with or meeting with the other person or committee, you can ask some vital questions that add value to the task in question and increase the respect shown to you:
Lead by asking questions
Facilitation, or asking questions, is a powerful way to guide the other person to take a more strategic point of view. It is vital for you to guide the other person from their limited understanding to a better way of thinking by asking questions such as
An example of how you could redirect someone from a low-level approach to a more strategic and effective approach is to ask questions like:
In this way, you are not pushing your ideas on the other person, or showing them up; instead you are allowing them some ownership of the approach you are suggesting. You are much more likely to gain their cooperation and approval in this way.
Gaining ground for your role
Basically, you are aiming to lead them to agree for you to put together some ideas for a concise communication plan which you can submit for their approval. Much of PR is no-cost or low-cost, so you wouldn’t need extra funding for the extra work, which is a big advantage to the case you are making.
And basically you should be leading them to the understanding that they should include you in the planning of their future activities. Again, ask them questions. You could gently suggest things like:
Checklist of key questions you should be asking
Be positive with the other person
In trying to move other people to take a more strategic approach, don’t disagree head-on with them to put your own unsupported view because this will backfire on you. Try to think of tactful ways you can accomplish this. Here are some ideas for making positive comments that are respectful to the other person or group:
By being prepared to get out of your comfort zone and take a more strategic approach with managers and clients you will find yourself becoming much more effective in your career.