Every electronics OEM needs to formulate a business story and develop related media pitches and awareness campaigns. Creating success just takes a bit of preparation and adherence to a few key pointers.
Use management time wisely
We're not ordering pizza here. A substantial amount of management time is needed initially to get the story nailed and incorporated into the communications effort, hopefully across the organization and in all media. Answering some key questions and creating a positioning statement and key messages should precede everything else. This results in a communications strategy on which all tactics are based. Remember -- strategy first, then tactics.
After the campaign is up and running, fewer large blocks of management time are typically needed. However, some direction will be regularly required for questions or clarifications and on short notice if/when we get opportunities with media or others. Public relations is a management function and cannot be successful without its consistent involvement, as I discuss in my book.
Extracting information from technical and management team members for content development, perhaps via audio recording, saves time. Reusing relevant content may be a more rapid means of capturing information. You may also want to involve other content experts within the organization or even outside it.
Make clear agreements
A letter of agreement with your marketing or PR counsel is just that. It's not a proposal or a plan. It's just a set of ground rules. Most importantly, there should a business or marketing plan, with understood budget resources for the campaign, to which a marketing communications or PR proposal can be tied. Would a field commander go into battle without knowing the strength of his force and his adversary's? Would a pilot take off without knowing the distance the available fuel will cover? Would a carpenter start a house without known quantities of building materials?
Developing a fairly precise vision of a supporting PR campaign requires equally clear direction on which to base action. Can a PR plan be created without a business strategy and planning information? Sure, but it'll likely be a bit of an air plan that's probably unsuitable. Then we have to start over. Anyone can list possibly appropriate tactics. Basing a plan on that is equally futile. Start with a clear understanding of resources that can describe and estimate how far and fast we can go within those limitations. While discussing prospective tactics, creating plans appropriate to and effective for the business requires further information from management. This includes agreement on an approximate budget, so plans may be scaled to available resources, and expectations can be managed.
Executing a PR program is unlike many other process-oriented activities. There are human-related variables out of our control. We're very often dealing with external entities like market research analysts, editors, and customers, who are most definitely unconcerned with anyone's marketing or PR campaign schedule. Charting a campaign plan with a timeline is excellent in the planning phase. But a plan is just that. It rarely gets executed precisely as conceived.
Lastly, CEO buy-in for the communications effort is always essential in PR. The CEO should understand it and like it. That person may even be required to participate.
Have a business or marketing plan
A PowerPoint file doesn't normally stand well as a business or marketing plan and strategy statement. It may work with explanation, but PPT files are meant to have a speaker. A simple, clear document is needed. To help you understand what's needed in a strategy, here's important guidance from Richard Rumelt's recent book, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, one of the best business books I've read in a decade.
A business strategy is not, as is so often portrayed in the corporate world, an Objective or end point or a bunch of fluff and high-sounding language without meaning. A strategy includes the following:
A diagnosis defining or explaining the nature of the challenge. An effective diagnosis simplifies the often overwhelming complexity of the business environment by identifying certain aspects of the situation as critical. (An example might be a missing piece needed by customers that competitors have ignored. It can also be lots of other things.)
A guiding policy for dealing with the challenge. This is the overall approach chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis.
A set of coherent actions that are designed to carry out the guiding policy. These are steps that are coordinated with one another to work together in the accomplishing the guiding policy.
Creating a marketing plan is simple, but it certainly isn't easy. Creating clear, simple plans that can be widely shared across your business takes time and attention. Good strategy makes all the difference and has been underrated lately. Bad strategy, or none at all, is a superb means of wasting time and money.