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The Importance of Objective-Setting… be S.M.A.R.T.

These days the PR industry is abuzz with the concept of ‘communication measurement.’ A day seldom goes by without an e-mail arriving to advertise the latest measurement guidebook, sell a measurement seminar or conference, or deliver an invitation to a measurement webinar. While communication measurement has traditionally relied on audience studies and media evaluation, social media has opened up whole new world, giving new meaning to public relations measurement and enabling us to explicitly chart how we can influence perceptions and activities.

However, the best measurement techniques and tools in the world are pointless without a communication strategy. Communication strategies are road maps for activity. They are unifying principles that tie the team into common outcomes and highlight the path that needs to be taken by everyone in the organisation in order to achieve success.

Without a doubt, the biggest hurdle for any public relations practitioner is setting objectives for their communication strategies. More often than not, these objectives are too vague, are business-oriented rather than communication-focused, or are completely disconnected from how success should be measured.

When building a communication strategy, the measurement component must evaluate what is set in the objectives. Increasing your number of followers on social media might seem like a nice objective to work towards, but public relations is all about influencing your stakeholders to think differently.

To illustrate the point, ’increasing sales’ is not a PR objective; ‘raising awareness’ or ‘creating product excitement’ on the other hand, are examples of what PR objectives should focus on in order to help increase sales.

Remember that in order to be able to measure the success of your communication strategies, your communication objectives should be S.M.A.R.T:

• Specific
• Measureable
• Achievable
• Realistic
• Time-bound

With more and more pressure being placed on PR practitioners to demonstrate success, connecting objectives with measurement criteria has never been more important. With sound S.M.A.R.T. objectives in place, demonstrating success should be far easier.