In public relations and in life, setting objectives is an important part of any process. Without this important step, all work that comes after becomes difficult to assess. After all, how do you know if you accomplished the goals of your public relations efforts if you never set them in the first place? When setting measurable objectives in PR, it is important they be meaningful, reasonable, and quantifiable. For the purposes of this blog, I will use the example of Arkansas Coding Academy, a small coding school affiliated with the University of Central Arkansas attempting to establish their online presence.
Reasonable objectives identify what can realistically be done. In the case of a smaller organization like Arkansas Coding Academy, a reasonable public relations objective would be to increase the number of social media followers by 100 in the next year. If the organization were to say they wanted to gain 5,000 followers instead, that would be less realistic.
Meaningful objectives add inherent value to an organization and takes into account stakeholders, themes and desired responses. A meaningful goal for Arkansas Coding Academy would take into account its current students, potential students, government or current software developers.
Quantifiable objectives are where the “measurement” enters the equation. These are the who, what, when, where and why objectives. Quantifiable objectives can be broken down into outputs, outcomes and business results. Outputs are the easily measurable accomplishments like clicks, mentions, views and impressions on social media platforms. These can be shown through simple analytics such as the “Engagement” section of Twitter or through social media scheduling websites like HootSuite.
Outcomes can be equated to a target audience’s awareness of your organization. Audience behavior, attitudes, comprehension and awareness of what you’re communicating is vital. If your audience sees a message (as in outputs), but doesn’t understand it, then your organization is not achieving its desired outcomes.
Business results are the tangible goods in public relations. This shows the organization things like change in revenue, market share or employee retention that come about as a result of your PR tactics.
Each of these quantifiable goals is vital to organizational success. Always make sure to gauge where you are as an organization prior to setting these goals so you have something to aspire to and measure later. Be aware of what your previous goals and their results were as well as the goals of your organizational competitors and ways you can assess incremental improvement in your organization. Make sure your goals have a who, what, when and why.