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How strategic thinking shapes our PR practice

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PR perfect pitch
PR perfect pitch by Eniola Mayowa

Recently, I have been contemplating the significance of strategic thinking in our PR endeavours. It serves as the foundation upon which all our efforts rest.

I am reflecting on how crucial it is to align our PR strategies with the broader objectives of our organisation or the business we serve.

The goal is not merely to secure media coverage; it is about harnessing that coverage to contribute to our overarching aims.Strategic thinking requires us to constantly assess the bigger picture and ensure that every action we take serves a purpose in advancing those objectives. Strategic thinking in PR begins with a clear understanding of the organisation’s objectives.

As PR professionals, we must align our communication strategies with the broader goals of the organisation, whether it’s to enhance brand reputation, manage a crisis, promote a product or service, or engage with stakeholders.Many years ago, I had a client in the financial services sector who would always demand that his organisation’s stories be featured in certain newspapers, TV, and radio.

Often, I queried such demands from a professional point of view but was obliged because he paid the bill. A day came when the organisation had a major crisis, so I used the opportunity to draw his attention to the fact that we needed to get our channels of media engagement reviewed, and he agreed.

It was later found out that his choice of media for his organisation was based on his consumption preference rather than the consumption preferences of his organisation’s stakeholders and target audience. I was reviewing our recent campaigns, and I realised how much strategic planning goes into every aspect of our work. From identifying objectives to selecting the right channels and crafting messages that resonate with our target audience, it’s all about strategic thinking.

For example. We didn’t just throw out press releases and other editorial content and hope for the best. We carefully analysed our target audience, developed key messages that highlighted our campaign items’ unique features, and strategically chose channels where our audience is most active.

Audience analysis has been crucial. Understanding who we’re trying to reach and what resonates with them helps us tailor our messages and choose the right communication channels. Knowing our audience allows us to speak their language and connect with them on a deeper level. It’s not just about what we want to say; it’s about what they need to hear.

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And speaking of messages, crafting compelling and consistent ones is key. Our messages need to reflect our brand and values while addressing the needs and concerns of the target audience. Consistency builds trust and credibility, which are essential in PR.

What is the strategy for your media relations? We must know that diverse media segments connect to or are related to our deliverables. Building and maintaining relationships with journalists and media outlets is essential for garnering positive media coverage and managing reputations. PR professionals must strategically pitch stories, respond to media inquiries, and proactively manage media relationships.

How do you see strategic thinking coming into play in crisis communication? Crisis communication is all about being proactive and prepared. It’s about anticipating potential risks and having a plan in place to address them effectively.

Strategic thinking helps us identify those risks, develop response strategies, and ensure that we can navigate through turbulent times without causing more harm to our reputation.

Being able to adapt and respond quickly in times of crisis is crucial. It’s all about staying ahead of the curve and minimising damage as much as possible. Being proactive rather than reactive is a hallmark of strategic PR. It’s all about staying ahead of the game and being prepared for any curveballs that may come our way.

The PR landscape is constantly evolving, and strategic PR professionals must be adaptable and agile in responding to changing circumstances and emerging trends. This may involve adjusting strategies, embracing new technologies, or exploring innovative approaches to communication.

To optimise strategic thinking in PR, ongoing measurement and evaluation are essential for refining our strategies and demonstrating value. It’s not enough to execute a campaign; we need to measure its effectiveness and adjust our strategies accordingly.

That’s the essence of strategic thinking. We need to be able to show how our PR efforts contribute to achieving our organisation’s goals and make data-driven decisions to improve our effectiveness over time.

With constant tracking of the Key Performance Indices (KPIs) and metrics, we can identify what’s working well and what needs improvement. It’s all about staying agile and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of PR.It’s clear that strategic thinking is not just a buzzword; it’s the foundation of successful PR practices.

From planning and execution to evaluation and adaptation, it’s woven into every step of the process.

  • Mayowa, a reputation management expert, is the COO of Stepcraft Nigeria Ltd and fellow of NIPR

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