It was the summer of 2017 and I had just moved overseas, fresh-faced and excited to be trying my hand in the rush and the hubbub of London. I was eager for my new role in PR after moving across half the world, that kind of giddy excitement that can only come from starting over. Like Lady Gaga, I felt like I had completely reinvented myself – this was going to be the new me. Not long after arriving, one of my first jobs was working with a big Fortune 500 company, aiming to build their brand awareness further and help shape their image. I was tasked in my first week with writing up a new story and getting coverage, but when I asked them what their goal was, I was met with silence and blank stares before a “just get us coverage”.
It wasn’t long before I realised there was no strategy in place, choosing to forego it and any kind of reporting in the interest of quick wins. Their tactics it seemed was to create as many pieces of “interest” as possible and throw it out into the universe, hoping one sticks or becomes viral. There was no rhyme or reason, so when they said jump, we did just that.
I was shocked that such a huge and reputable business wouldn’t even give a second thought to a clear structure, to help them drive forward success (and measure that success). They barely gave any thought at changing the status quo, whether internally or externally. Instead, they wanted to just get by, not change their ways. Their reluctance it seemed was holding them back.
In fact, over my career, I have seen this be a recurring issue for companies both big and small – favouring quick wins and standard activities over clear, measurable goals. Without a strategy in place, clearly defined goals and KPIs to measure those goals and define what success is, you’re just shooting in the dark.
The challenges of quick wins over strategy
Over my years working in PR & Communications, I have come across three challenges that often keep coming up:
- Expectations over outcomes: When two businesses work together, there are often expectations going into it. If it’s not spoken aloud, or even thought through clearly, then success is insubstantial and undefined. I might be thinking we’re hitting a home run, but you see us as still standing idly on first base. This comes down to defining what success looks like to you.
- Lack of clarity on KPIs: A goal is what you want to achieve, KPIs define how you know when you’ve achieved it or on your way towards it. Without a defined goal, you can’t define your KPIs and you’re stuck without a strategy. To continue with my sports analogies, the goal posts currently don’t exist.
- Changing goals: Again, this comes down to expectations and a lack of clarity on your strategy and KPIs. This can also come about when you need to pivot your business. If there’s anything last year taught us, is that we always need to be on our toes.
“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going."
Complacency vs reinvention
Last year was about surviving, this year is about thriving and without revamping and refreshing our approach, we get left behind, failing to adapt to the new era. Back on my time with the Fortune 500 company in London. There would be many conversations held. Frustrations grew as we would deliver brilliant content, but it wasn’t enough. Why weren’t we achieving what they wanted? We asked what they wanted but the answer was never the same. It was when we sat them down and talked strategy, really pinning down what their goals were that we started to make some progress. From there, we developed KPIs and created a clear path for them.
We looked at ways we could reinvent the processes they had in place to ensure not only would we meet these goals, but we would do so more efficiently and with meaningful impact. In fact, once we broke this down into themes, and looked at different ways of reaching out to their stakeholders, we opened up new relationships and possibilities for them. Our work with them was changed, and all the better for it.
Once our KPIs were defined, both parties clearly understood exactly where we were and what we expected going into each campaign and activity. Tensions were lowered and expectations were equal.
It seems obvious, but when you’re running a business, you often just want the solution without carving out the pathway to it. I’ve quickly learnt this process is a collaboration, that each goal should mean something, and each KPI should be fully understood by everyone. If we took a step back for just a moment and thought this through, the possibilities of growth expand exponentially.
If you would like to revamp your strategy and find out the best ways to reach your communication and marketing goals, get in touch with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07 3180 3666.