Objective Failure

17 Apr

A baseline requirement for any successful public relations measurement program is to begin with measurable objectives.  If the program objectives are not measurable, any effort to determine program success becomes subjective.  The most common problem I have observed in all types of strategic plans during my career is poorly written objectives.  So why is this so difficult?  Two errors are common:

 

·         Writing objectives that are not specific enough with respect to metrics and timeframe to be measurable

 

·         Confusing Objectives with Strategies

 

An Objective is What you want to accomplish.  It should have two essential elements – the specific target you hope to achieve and the timeframe in which you plan to achieve it.  Here are a couple of examples:

 

Poorly Constructed Objectives

·         Increase awareness of product XYZ

 

·         Increase brand consideration for ABC

 

Properly Written Objectives

·         Increase awareness of Product XYZ from 15 to 25% in the next twelve months

 

·         Increase brand consideration for ABC from 45 to 75% by year-end 2007

 

 

Generally, most people’s Objectives are actually Strategies.  They are How you hope to accomplish the goal, not What you ultimately wish to accomplish with the program.  Sentences like:

 

Position product XYZ as the technology leader in the segment   or  

Enhance visibility of brand ABC amongst 24 – 35 audience  

would most likely be presented erroneously as Objectives, not Strategies.

 

Here’s an easy way to remember the difference:

 

Objective What you want to accomplish
Strategy How you intend to achieve the Objective
Tactic Using or with what tools and techniques

 

 

It’s free, easy and absolutely necessary…so why don’t we do a better job of writing Objectives we can actually measure?    

 

Thanks for reading, Don B

6 Responses to “Objective Failure”

  1. Jeff Risley April 17, 2006 at 6:00 pm #

    Don,

    Good post. I agree with the importance of this. At our firm, we hammer this into everyone. We always refer to objectives in the context of measurement.

    We define an objective as the thing that our efforts are intended to attain or accomplish, and we say that to be an objective, it must state five things: audience, behavior to change or action to take, timeframe, metric (measurement tool) and benchmark. (A la KD Paine).

    We also try to organize or “attach” our objectives to a specific part of the “audience continuum,” if it’s appropriate: Awareness, consideration, purchase or loyalty. For example, most media relations objectives relate to awareness, but we track key messages to help us determine if we met a consideration objective (like did the story have our Web site URL). Purchase is usually easy to track, but there are few PR tactics that relate to it. And loyalty is generally a long-term objective that has to be measured by primary research.

  2. Derek Hodge April 20, 2006 at 9:05 am #

    Objectives should always be SMART

    Specific
    Measurable
    Appropriate
    Realistic
    Timed

    Forget where the acronym comes from.

  3. staci April 17, 2007 at 9:48 pm #

    pr campaigns

  4. staci April 17, 2007 at 9:48 pm #

    pr campaigns objectives.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. PR Measurement Conferences… Striking the Right Balance | StrategyOne Insight - October 21, 2011

    […] I nominate Don Bartholomew from Fleishman-Hillard to lead the session. One of his MetricsMan posts from several years ago is my “go to” guide for helping clients understand the importance of […]

  2. PR Measurement Conferences… Striking the Right Balance - StrategyOne - December 9, 2011

    […] I nominate Don Bartholomew from Fleishman-Hillard to lead the session. One of his MetricsMan posts from several years ago is my “go to” guide for helping clients understand the importance of […]

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