I used to be on the PR and marketing contests judges circuit. You judge one contest and you get asked to judge for another one. I did a stint with the Bellringers, PR News, the “Anvils” and a couple of local contests, including the NYC PRSA. Huge amount of fun; lots of reading; great opportunity to learn.
While judging, one thing I learned to watch out for was a plan that fit the results (instead of the other way around.) In other words, “we got coverage in this random newspaper in some mid-Western state, so we’re going to add that to the goals. ”
No matter how hard the teams tried to disguise it, those plans stuck out like a sore thumb. (Ed note: Do sore thumbs actually stick out?) I tended to give those entries low marks. If a goal didn’t apply to the target market — whether geographically or demographically, it was probably a goal that got added after the fact. (Some were downright laughable — Yes, even though this was a company that did business only in Boston, we specifically targeted the Rocky Mountain News. And this was before the Internet made online coverage global.)
Marketing plans and PR plans should have goals, and metrics and a definition of success. But make sure you have those things in place BEFORE you start working. Journeys can be very long and very hard if you don’t know where you are headed. Conversely, very very detailed plans can be confining. A plan is set in place at a specific moment in time and the world keeps spinning and changing. So, don’t feel you have to stick to your plan like glue — keep it loose. Be ready to shift as the marketplace changes. But, if you are entering your case study in a contest, make sure you account for your changes. Don’t try to make me believe that you planned that outcome all along. I’m on to you.