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Winter smacked us in the face in the Northeast United States this week, with temperatures finally settling into where you’d expect them to be in December. I woke to 23 degrees on Monday morning; #brrr.
A friend of mine who is a meteorologist for local TV and radio stations here in New York says we won’t see a white Christmas. And since December 25 is the only day of the year I think snow is acceptable, I’m rooting for global warming.
All this talk about weather forecasting gets my mind going on planning for the future. And whether it’s for your finances, your family or your career, you need to hone your skills as a planner.
As PR people, the rubber hits the road with the plan we create for our clients. If a professional relationship is like dating, this is the first kiss. If it’s a mess, they may not come back for more. So once we understand a client’s goals, it’s up to us to create the plan, chock full of timelines, details and deliverables.
Here are a couple ways I approach planning:
1. Create a realistic timeline. Explain how long a project is going to take and make sure it’s understood. Don’t overpromise, or you’re sure to underdeliver.
2. Explain what you need them to give to you. Be blunt with your client: you don’t make this stuff up. You’re there to help shape the message – they need to give you the raw materials if you are going to tell their story. Give the client a role to play within the plan to make sure their ongoing input is essential.
3. Identify the targets. If you know a client wants to be on the TODAY show, or in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, lay out the “how” you’re going to get them there. If you know it won’t happen, adjust their expectations and give them the backup plan.
4. Involve the influencers. Ever seen a successful red carpet movie premiere without celebrities? Exactly. Try to recruit the support of non-media influentials to build awareness and support for what you’re doing. It will lend legs to your media effort and even create new opportunities – and relationships that will benefit your client long after the project is done.
5. Once you’ve been handed the keys to the car, drive. Don’t ask the client for further directions after you deliver the plan. Just get to it; that’s why they hired you. If you need to spend more (of their) money or depart radically from the plan, certainly get their okay. Otherwise, start marching, soldier!
What are your planning secrets?