Is this a familiar scenario?
A new initiative surfaces in your organization. It swiftly gets buy-in. With barely a blink, departments start revving up and pressure mounts to go into action: Gather the team! Get it on the website! Issue a news release! Promote it on social media!
But wait. Slow down. That’s like throwing a dart without steadying yourself and properly taking aim. Sure, everyone is eager, but what’s the strategy?
Horse, Then Cart
Especially given the rapid pace of business today, organizations sometimes struggle when it comes to putting strategy before tactics. Some organizations even struggle distinguishing between the two.
So let’s take a step back. What is the difference between a strategy and a tactic?
A strategy is a thoughtfully crafted approach to achieve a desired outcome. Strategies detail how – as in how will you reach your objective. In other words, what’s the plan.
A tactic is a specific tool or activity to implement a strategy. If strategy is the how, tactics are the how to. In other words, what methods and resources will you use.
As a basic example, say your objective is to increase trust between a local government entity and the people it serves. A strategy to meet that objective might be to empower citizen participation in local government affairs. A tactic to execute that strategy might be to produce a weekly podcast featuring a roundup of local issues and promoting how citizens can voice opinions and feedback.
It can be very tempting to jump right to tactics, but formulating strategy is the disciplined place to start.
Strength of Strategy
Developing strategy requires a full understanding and analysis of the situation. (This is why PRworks recommends that a discovery and research phase be the first step for any public relations or marketing initiative whenever possible.)
- How does the effort align with the organization’s long-term, overarching goals?
- Who is the target audience?
- What do we know about them?
- What don’t we know about them that we need to find out?
- What do we want the target audience to do?
- What is happening in the competitive environment or community that may affect the effort?
- What internal strengths and weakness exist?
- What external threats and opportunities exist?
- What resources (talent, time and money) are realistically available to support the effort?
Herein lies the strength of a strategic approach. It compels a thoughtful process of information gathering and assessment that informs planning and decision-making.
When a strategic approach is applied, tactics aren’t chosen based on habit, convenience or availability, but rather on a well-thought out plan that’s grounded in data.
Once you have a research-based strategy set, then tactical planning can begin.
This is when you get into the nitty gritty details:
- What is the tactical-level messaging?
- What communication or marketing tools will best execute on the strategy?
- Who will be responsible for what?
- What is the budget breakdown?
- What is the timetable?
- How will results be measured?
Ready to Get Started?
At PRworks, we believe true public relations and marketing is rooted in research and strategy. When applied strategically, our fields of expertise have the power to drive an organization forward in all the ways that matter most. (In fact, peers have awarded us for our strategic approach).
Contact us to discuss how we can help drive the success of your next public relations or marketing initiative.