im•ple•ment (verb): to fulfill; perform; carry out
In our last blog we discussed forming a strategy based on research. No matter what the communication problem or opportunity is, it’s hard not to want to jump right in and start “doing.” But rushing to implement before your strategy is fully developed can be more than a little dangerous. It’s critical to take the time up front to research and strategize so you’re working on more than a gut feeling. Sure, your gut can be right (and often is), but having the research and strategy to back up your actions is essential when it comes time to make your case, fight for budget or debate naysayers.
So all the research and planning has led to this: implementation. It’s finally time to start doing what you’ve been researching, planning and talking about. So how do you jump in? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin to implement a program or campaign:
- Am I meeting people where they are? Don’t make people seek your messages; take them to where your audience already is (churches, existing meetings, stores, etc.).
- Have I considered an integrated approach? We help clients utilize the best of public relations, marketing and advertising to achieve their goals. Rarely will a single tactic adequately communicate your message, much less make an impact on audiences.
- Am I using repetition? People need to hear things several times before they will begin to believe it, buy-in and change a behavior or take an action.
- Who will do the work and what will it take? Part of aligning resources is ensuring you’ve accurately projected your needs – if you have to accomplish 20 speaking engagements in a quarter, how many speakers do you need? Be thoughtful about what you can bite off, and chew!
- What are others in our space doing? Scanning the marketplace to understand what mediums both your competition and partners are using can be tremendously helpful as you implement your program and will allow you to make necessary adjustments.
Let’s take a glimpse into two common tactics we use and lessons we’ve learned while implementing:
- Media relations. Flexibility and thick skin are key when it comes to pitching the media. Earlier this year we pitched national media who target Native Americans about an opportunity for Tribal members to benefit from a national settlement. Even after six months of preparing the largest media list we’ve ever put together, when it came right down to it the list was never going to be perfect so we had to jump in and remain flexible. You’ll never know what media will say or do with a story (if anything) but the exciting part is for every unfriendly or uninterested person you talk with there seems to be an equally excited and eager one around the corner. That’s especially true when you’re willing to adapt to their needs and remain nimble.
Tyler on the phone with regional media to promote a story for one of our clients. When research determined a need to highlight a particular facet of our client's business, we developed a strategy for a highly targeted media relations push to publications across Washington State.
- Special events. While planning a special event for a client last fall, preparations were moving right along and things were going great. That is until a discussion about the lunch menu ensued and a few people mentioned there was too much feta cheese… No matter how detail oriented you are, regardless of how many times you’ve checked and double checked, you have to be ready to switch things up because it turns out that cheese can be a big deal. Good food at an event will go a long way to making attendees happy.
Sara D. and Kristen assisting with the grand opening of the CHAS Lewis & Clark Dental Clinic. We supported with event prep, regional media relations, collateral development and more as part of the overall stragegy.
I’ll leave you with three tricks I think apply to these scenarios and just about every other tactic when it comes time to execute:
Tip #1: Implementation isn’t the time for a Leap of Faith. The next time you get the urge to start a _______ (you fill in the blank – brochure, awareness campaign, media pitch, etc.) make sure implementation is not your first step. Take the time to do your homework, build a research-based approach and plan accordingly. You’ll save time in the end and achieve greater results.
Tip #2: Walk in “their” shoes. No matter what tactic you’re implementing put yourself in your audience’s shoes. It sounds simple right? But often in the hustle and bustle of moving through our daily to-do lists we don’t take the time to stop and be intentional about really pretending we’re them. Sometimes it’s easy, I’m a parent of a young child so when I’m working on a brochure aimed at telling parents about vaccine safety it’s easy, but sometimes you aren’t part of your audience and it’s always worth seeking someone who is. Tap your family, friends and colleagues to do this – if you’re targeting motorcycle riders find a friend who rides. Feedback from the source that will impact your implementation efforts before you start will always pay off in the end.
Tip #3: Always have a Plan B. I was born a planner, but whether you’re with me or not on that having a backup plan can save you when you need saved most. Think through what could go wrong and figure out what you’ll do if it does. That way when it happens and everyone else is panicking you’ll be the calm, cool, collected one saving the day!