Communications Planning: Know the Difference Between Objectives and Strategy

objectives versus strategies

One of the most confused aspects of communications planning is the part where the planner must differentiate between the “Objectives” portion of the plan and the “Strategy” portion.

All too often it’s because the author of the plan isn’t clear on the difference between the two. This will be a short blog post, so let’s get right to it.

An Objective is a goal, an end point, destination, where you want to go. So, let’s say you are interested in dating with perhaps long-term dreams of where this could all go.

Your goal may be to find a life partner, a husband or a wife. That’s a pretty clear goal. To do that, you first have to find someone, and then you have to date them, and then the two of you have to build a stronger, closer relationship that makes marriage possible.

Romantic life aside, here’s where people get confused. Is dating a strategy or an objective? Is finding someone a strategy or objective?

The easiest way to look at it is to ask yourself how. How will you achieve your goal of getting married?

Your strategies will answer the ‘how’ question.

To get married, you have to put in place a process or system to meet someone. That process could be joining an online dating site, getting involved with community or church groups where you’re more likely to meet someone with similar interests, or perhaps, leveraging your own personal relationships through friends of family to let people know you’re available for dating.

All of these are strategies because in general terms, they address the question of how you will achieve your ultimate goal.

Now, as you flesh your plan out, you will have to add certain details to those strategies. How will you leverage those family connections? What community or church groups will you join or ramp up your volunteerism? What dating site will you join and how will you use it?  The answers to these questions come in the Implementation phase of your plan.

But to ensure your plan is off to a good start with clarity, understand the difference between an Objective and a Communications Strategy.

As a refresher, when we create PR plans, they are typically structured this way: Objectives, Strategies, Targeted Audiences/Stakeholders, Messaging, Implementation, Evaluation.

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The Essential Crisis Communications PlanTim is the author of the book called “The Essential Crisis Communications Plan: A Crisis Management Process that Fits Your Culture.” He is founder of O’Brien Communications and has provided crisis communications and issues management support to clients from Fortune 100 firms and national nonprofits, to emerging start-ups.

Tim has handled hundreds of crises, large and small over decades, working with some of the most iconic brands in the world along the way. To receive updates, click here.


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