Earlier in my career, when meeting prospective clients, our initial conversations focused heavily on determining communications goals – which at the time seemed an appropriate place to start. After all, the company was looking for a qualified communications partner. So naturally we’d talk about things like where and how to generate more awareness for their company and its leaders. And we’d discuss their key messages, what their competitors were doing as far as communications, who in their space had more “reach” and “share of voice,” and so on and so forth.
It took me a while, but I came to realize we were not asking the right questions. We were spending inordinate amounts of time trying to understand how we could simply get messages out, get media coverage, etc. – all things strategic communications planning would seem to cover.
But too often these conversations were missing the most critical point of it all – business goals. Now, we start with questions like: What are you striving to accomplish as a business? Growth? A stronger employer brand? Is the company going through a change management process? How can PR support your efforts to nail it?
These days, I’m actually not too concerned about determining or even measuring communications goals. We want to know your business goals – and how we can contribute to them. The right comms strategy will surely follow.
Now when I talk to a potential client, I’ll ask about their experience with PR and other firms, often hearing descriptions like, “We had some good media coverage, but I’m not sure what, if any, business impact it had.” I have heard this a lot. It’s a problem. And PR pros need to own it.
Newly signed to our sister company, Stern Speakers & Advisors, corporate communications thought leader Paul Argenti shared his belief that communications is a business strategy. I couldn’t agree more. It’s up to PR pros to make sure business goals are at the core of their strategies, too. We can start by asking the right questions.
If you’d like to learn more about how we do it, I’d love to connect.