Thursday, December 15, 2005

Adaptive PR Strategy Process

I have been working on the application of the relationship value model. The extent to which public relations has become a very broad discipline using a wide range of relationship and communications models calls for a review into models of practice that are available today.

The existing models of practice have been refined of the years but with globalisation, a paradigm shift in social communication, a declining traditional media and the dramatic influence of mobile communication, the practice of PR is changing. The concepts of pyramid management is being replaced, say McKinsey because of a need to gains sustainable competitive advantage.

Organisations have changed dramatically. The move towards weightlessnessopen source (think IBM, Sun, Novell, HP etc) and collaborative/community design, development, production, distribution, marketing and exchange is accelerating fast. There is no escape from the information economy. outsourcing, partnering arrangements with vendors and the significance of

The impact and significance of the individual has changed too. The citizen journalist has considerable power (and whereas the traditional media offers smart and useful finished articles, the on-line journalist is part of a continuing story with untidy nuances). The significance of blogging among stakeholders and internally, the rise of the Wiki, RSS and podcasting are now well in view for implementing Public Relations Strategies.

These developments have significant implications for corporation and their capability for relationship management.

It is the role that Pubic Relations plays in aiding relationship management including areas of practice such as corporate communication, public relations, marketing, internal communication, knowledge management and other areas of relationship activities that now comes under the spotlight.

To be able to be effective, this means there has to significant evolution in Public Relations Planning and Management.

Based on actual consultancy practice, a model has been created for planning and management which both reflects the aims and ambitions of organisations and which is sufficiently flexible that it can respond to changing environments.

This process is not designed for the planning of a public relations campaign although the planning of such campaigns without reference to the model would be counter productive. It does, however, offer a capability to implement individual campaigns into the wider strategic management objective.

The process draws on a range of management disciplines and adds existing literature of the subject.

In preparing a plan for Public Relations, there is a very strong case for involvement of both internal and external constituents and there are a number of tools that are applicable.

The essence of the PRPM programme takes the corporate view of the organisation, and reviews the vision and role of the organisation (an example). This vision and and associated commentary about what an organisation does provides the basis for developing concepts of social groups.

There are a number of methodologies for identifying social groups (publics and stakeholders). The use of visualisation with focus groups is one such methodology create a map of those social groups (business, government, and other publics) affected by what the organisation does. The key element in this process is to identify relative significance of stakeholders to the vision of the organisation.

From this list of groups, the next part of the process identifies how the organisation would meet its mission through interaction with the publics. In the first instance considerable research into these publics is needed. In particular the explicit interests of the publics, the explicit interests of these publics related to the organisation are essential. In addition the perspectives that such interests have from the publics' viewpoint is needed together with the perspectives for the same interests from the organisations' viewpoint. This shows up areas of dissonance between the organisation and its publics.

Further research will examine the publics from their social perspectives of where and when they are most likely to be interactive, the channels for communication that most apply in such circumstances.

From here the process examines each public in the light of the organisation's mission. In most cases this requires interpretation of the mission statement in terms of organisation/stakeholder aspirations and the question asked is 'how each of the elements of the mission can apply to each public'. This can be expressed in terms of what is needed to reduce dissonance and bring about convergent between the parties and is expressed as SMART objectives for each group.

From there the plan evolves into relationship strategies and thence to creative and operational tactics with time and resource budgets implemented using project management software. In implementing strategies and tactics a range of internal and external groups will be affected and here there is a good case for application of intranet based information and discussion (blogs and wiki's are helpful here).

The plan requires daily monitoring of news coverage and on-line comment both national and international using an on-line services and an news/evaluation filter to generate a rapid report and analysis by 0700 each day for dissemination to internal staff and external enterprise partners.

Monthly reporting, quarterly reviews are recommended and the plan should be be recast annually. The advantage of using SMART objectives is that the evaluation of each strategy was relatively simple to implement.

With this sort of planning, the process can aid response to issues and crisis where the real problem is often a need to create convergence between the organisation and the issue public/s.

More about this process will come in due course.

This process is the application of the relationship value model in practice.

In this model, the whole process is adaptive. From vision and mission to the resolution of dissonance, the plan calls for a meeting of interests, including involvement for change throughout the organisation to make the organisation adapt to meet its public's needs and aspirations.

In a socially interactive and global world there is no other way organisations can gain a competitive advantage.

Picture: Raytracer