PR planning: hints and tips for your CIPR planning assignment

PR planning: hints and tips for your CIPR planning assignment

The CIPR PR Diploma planning assignment is out and right now students will have their heads down developing a strategic PR plan for the International Labour Organisation and creating “Decent Jobs for Youth”.

The PR planning module for the Diploma – and for the Advanced Certificate course – is my favourite, so here are my tips for producing a cracking Diploma planning assignment – and of course they apply just as much in the real world of work:

  • Executive summary. Write this last and remember it is a summary – not an introduction (which is why you should write it last). Writing a strong executive summary is a great skill to have. It should hook your reader in and really sell the proposal that you are making while outlining your plan.
  • Use your analysis tools well, make sure the things you think of are in the right “box” if using PEST, SWOT. Use it to discuss the potential risks for the organisation. Remember the difference between risks and issues: a risk is something that could happen, an issue is something you are already facing. Also analysis is about insight, not doing for its own sake - the big question is always so what? For example, what is the point to be made about cuts to support for post-16 years olds in education rather than just including this as a bullet in a PEST as a political factor - what does it then mean for the organisation when you link it to a SWOT analysis?
  • Decide who you want to communicate with. Remember one of my banned terms is “the general public” – no such thing! Likewise, a stakeholder group such as “the community” or “parents” is far too general. Be as specific as you can. This matters whenever you are planning PR because these broad groups have very different subgroups. For example a parent could be male, aged 60 with grown up children or 23 and female with a young baby – very different!
  • Set SMART objectives.
    Specific – who do you want to communicate with? What exactly do you want to happen?
     Measurable– what is the change you are looking for? Give it a number, for example a “10% increase in….”
    Achievable – don’t set yourself up to fail! And remember you must set communication objectives. PR can’t deliver sales, but it can deliver leads – don’t set an objective for something that isn’t in your gift to deliver.
    Relevant – how does your comms/PR objective help to deliver the corporate objectives? This is really key – our PR strategies should always link back to the corporate objectives.
    Timed – when are you going to achieve it by?
    Final thought on objectives- ensure you have some outcome ones in there. Process objectives (for example, issuing six stakeholder newsletters during the year) are fine as far as they go, but what you really want to do is change what somebody things, feels or does.
  • Set out an appropriate communication strategy. This is perhaps the most important bit and the area where some past assignments have been weakest. What is looked for here is the strategic approach that you are going to take. For example, will you draw on communication theory and if so, how? Are you going to focus totally on social media because that is where your stakeholders are? You decide. Think how a campaign to stop the over 50s in the UK drinking too much alcohol would demand a very different strategy to a campaign designed to launch a new zero emissions car aimed at young, new drivers.   This section matters so really give it some thought and make it appropriate to what has gone before in your plan.
  • How will you evaluate your plan? The essential thing here – and I mean essential – is that your evaluation links back to your objectives. Don’t say you are going to increase the number of people over 50 who agree they are going to moderate their alcohol consumption and then say your evaluation is going to be the number of press cuttings. Check out the Barcelona Principles on the AMEC website.
  • Finally, does it all hang together? You need a thread running through the whole plan so it works as a whole, not a series of steps without a connection. That’s what makes a really good strategic plan.

Then there is the rationale where you talk about how you have approached your plan. Try and liven it up with a good discussion around the area of theory that you have used to inform your strategic approach. Don’t just describe, critique and challenge!

So there it is, my quick hints and tips for a cracking CIPR Diploma PR planning assignment. If you are going to be doing the Advanced Certificate planning assignment, then lots of the above apply equally too.

Good luck! We can’t wait to read them.