September 7, 2016

Incorporating a Back-to-School Approach into Your Clients’ Communications Plans


It’s back-to-school season, and although most kids are reluctant to leave the beach, playground or backyard and get back to “real life,” there is a palpable sense of opportunity to get things off to a fresh start. Students are back in the classroom, ready to learn with their empty notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils, and there’s increased action in the financial world as well.

Investors are back from vacation, market activity picks up, and executives are hustling to meet Q4 expectations. For public relations practitioners, now is an excellent time to look at our clients’ communications plans with fresh eyes and revisit goals, identify gaps and think creatively. Here are a few ideas to get started:

1) Review and track progress toward your clients’ communications goals. Revisit your clients’ major objectives for 2016 and identify what needs to happen in order to fulfill them by year-end. If your clients’ business goals have shifted, or there are new developments or priorities to consider, adjust the targets as needed and chart a course to meet them within a designated timeframe. This is also a good time to start benchmarking a PR campaign’s performance against the previous year.

2) Do your homework. A crucial part of being a strong partner for clients is always keeping a finger on the pulse of their businesses and, more broadly, their industries. Consider using back-to-school season as a time to hit the books and study up on your clients’ industries and audiences. Take a step further to see which key media outlets and reporters are writing about particular clients, as well as how your clients’ competitors are being portrayed in the news. In what areas is your client at the forefront of its industry? What unique point of view can your spokespeople offer? Are there misconceptions about the industry or your client that need to be addressed? Finding the white space can help grow your client’s voice, position it as an industry leader and build reputation.

3) Plan ahead. It can be easy to get caught up in everyday media relations or content creation activities, but it is critical to be prepared for unexpected events. As PR professionals, it is our job to ensure our clients conduct scenario planning exercises in order to be prepared for surprises such as major geopolitical or market events, executive departures, or company crises. While it’s impossible to predict exactly what events might occur, having a strategic plan to reference in these cases will stimulate a swift and effective response.

4) Think big. In school, the beginning of each year is a reminder for students to pursue aspirations and map out a successful year ahead. Why not bring the same zest to your clients’ campaigns? Think about what can be done to enhance your clients’ PR programs for the rest of the year, such as amping up media relations around a certain spokesperson or topic, creating engaging and newsworthy content, or providing media training to a new executive.

Of course, all of these activities are important to consider year-round, but incorporating motivational goals and creativity into your work will help beat the post-summer blues–and your clients will appreciate it, too.

By: Shaina Lamb