10 tips for planning a huge PR program without losing your $#*!

10 tips for planning a huge PR program without losing your $#*!

Once in awhile, as a PR professional, you get the chance to take a step back from the day-to-day and launch a full-scale program.

It’s exciting because you’re involved from start to finish but it’s completely stressful because you’re overseeing everything from the bottom up; from research to execution and evaluation.

In addition to overseeing a number of programs in the past, I recently launched a huge project; a global effort that was the first of its kind. Needless to say, I started from scratch. I hit many walls and fought uphill battles. I worked many late nights and even dreamt about it.

Here are tips on how to launch a huge PR program without losing your $#*!.

1. Develop a plan and go back to it...often

Start with a PR plan that includes your objectives, strategies, tactics, and budget (with more details in between).

Don’t start until you get senior buy-in. Once you do, making decisions along the way becomes much easier. When teammates start to derail, it’s easy to point back to the plan and have rationale for getting everyone back on track.

2. Create a team that’s engaged and accountable

How? By allowing people to raise their hand for the opportunity.

Team members who volunteer to be part of the effort will be more invested in the process, have more grit, and will own their responsibilities more than those who were chosen to bear the burden.

3. Maintain perspective on the project

The deeper you get into a PR program, the more people convince themselves there’s something to lose.

Pressure builds and suddenly you’re working on something that is perceived to be bigger than it really is. Make sure you seek out and embrace moments that provide perspective from an outsider’s point-of-view. In my experience, in a very stressful time, one of these moments helps give balance, de-stress, and refresh the approach.

4. Flag issues early and demand solutions sooner (rather than later)

You will likely be in extreme multitasking mode and may let issues slip under the radar. Before you know it, the issues have escalated and you’re grasping for solutions.

Make sure you address them before it gets to this point and demand--literally demand--a solution.Of course, you’ll want to maintain some perspective on how bad it will get, but make sure to alert the proper parties to ensure it doesn’t get any worse.

5. Create milestones, even if they’re false

I hope my senior leaders don’t see this next tip….

The best way to set milestones is to schedule them -- actually on people’s calendars. If you keep referencing a workback plan, it’s very easy to just keep adjusting the date. If you have a physical meeting, it’s harder to push it back when you have materials due as preparation.

When a client or a C-Suite member has to review a component of the project, then you definitely have to meet that deadline!

6. Be flexible, which is not always easy

As a project lead, you have to understand and appreciate that even if, at the time, the project is the most important thing to you, it’s not the most important thing for everyone. Some activities take precedent and you have to stay flexible with how the process plays out.

7. Develop and leverage allies and champions

In addition to finding a team that’s engaged, finding allies and champions who will pave the way and provide excellent advice is key.

You may also need them to go to bat for you once in awhile, so it’s good to develop and maintain those relationships.

8. Read good stuff

I once was at an event with a panel of authors where one of the questions was about writer’s block. One author said she combats this state of mind by reading really good literature as she writes to maintain her inspiration and flow.

It may seem trivial, but reading credible articles on good leadership, project management, or ideas gone right is a great resource for getting to the finish line. It’ll keep you motivated and propel you forward.

9. Pick your battles

You can’t win every disagreement or directional conversation, but you can win the ones you fight for.

You will reach a point in time where you need to evaluate whether having another conversation about an element is really worth it. Think about the concepts you feel very strongly about and advocate for those; you’ll see everyone else on the team is doing the same and in the end, the work product will be evidently balanced.

10. Make sure the effort is not lost

One of the biggest challenges when launching a PR program is keeping it top-of-mind after the initial launch celebration is over.

Think about sustainability when you’re developing the overall plan--consider the elements that can be executed after launch to keep the momentum going. On a personal level, make sure that your contribution does not go unnoticed.

Communicate about all of your hard work and the results to really get the credit you deserve for taking on this huge initiative.

Julia Sahin works in financial communications at one of the largest PR firms in New York and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. She plans on doing big things. Connect with her on Twitter. All opinions should be seen as her own and do not reflect her employer’s.

Photo via Pixabay

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