Strategic Public Relations
Focused on public relations strategy within the integrated marketing communications mix.

Thursday, August 29, 2002  

What's NOT Strategy?

During some business travel this week, I was confronted twice by messages telling me what's NOT strategy.

HOPE: The book, Hope Is Not a Strategy: The 6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale, is written by Rick Page. I like the fact that it focuses on the complex sale. In business to business, most transactions are a considered purchase. Example: no one runs out and buys 13 jet engines on a lark. There are no frequent buyer programs for $250,000 machine tools or $500,000 enterprise software solutions.

A mentor distinguished consumer purchases from business to business purchases like this: "Buying the wrong toothpaste leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Making the wrong business to business purchase can cost you your job." And that's just one reason why these sales are complex.

SIZE: Fast Company's September cover story discusses the relationship between company size and strategy. Rather than growing through acquisition, companies should be profiting through innovation. Leviathan General Electric is betting on innovation to keep its far-flung businesses running smooth. Brand Titan P&G is also hoping innovation will allow it to respond more quickly, capitalizing on opportunities. Both offer exciting tests of Fast Company's theory. Can the largest companies profit through innovation despite their size?

Management guru Peter Drucker notes, "Growth without profit is cancer." This applies to Fast Company's article. When size is a strategy, you're cruising for a bruising. Just ask Worldcom, Tyco, Adelphia and Enron. Bigger is not always better.

So, if the above are NOT strategy. What in the heck IS it?

PRSA's Accreditation Guide offers up the following operational definition of Strategy: A general, well-thought out tactical plan. Strategies do not indicate specific actions to achieve objectives. There can be multiple strategies for each objective.

I consider strategy the bigger picture. Strategy makes sure your tactics are working together to achieve your program's specific, measurable objectives and overall goal. Strategy consists of the Xs and Os in the playbook that make sure your client wins the game.

Next On SPR: Phil Gomes and I have been kicking around the thought leadership strategy and how CEO as rock star, while breathing its last gasp, is a poor imitator of thought leadership. Perhaps that is why one strategy is dying and one is not?

Tom Murphy and I have been discussing marketing strategy as it pertains to the anniversary of 9/11. Our thoughts are that, depending on who your client is, less is more. Now it seems even politics is taking a cue from marketers like GM and Pepsi.

More to come on both of these concepts.

posted by Kevin Dugan | 9:56:00 PM

Wednesday, August 21, 2002  

Speed Kills

Thanks for checking out Strategic Public Relations (SPR).

Futurist Alvin Toffler notes, "speed without strategy is futile." It’s an obvious quote for this blog, but I’m referencing it to discuss SPR’s publishing cycle.

My promise to you is to deliver substantive content focused around marketing communications strategy. I will NOT promise you a set publishing cycle. My main goal is quality and not quantity.

To ensure you get strategy over speed, I cannot promise when content will appear. My desire is to post about once a week. However, keep in mind that SPR has to compete with my work and my life. So if a client has a last minute project come up, or my daughter wants to play, the SPR blog will have to wait. Or what if I do not have a relevant topic to discuss? I would rather miss the weekly post instead of going off topic and debating the merits of BusinessWire and PR Newswire*.

So rather than set a specific time when updates will appear, *please* bookmark this site if you enjoy what you read here. I hope you will check back about once a week or so. It will be time well spent.

*I have written an analysis of the two wire services in the past. The bottom line is they both have merits. You should choose the service that works best for your company.

posted by Kevin Dugan | 1:03:00 PM

Wednesday, August 14, 2002  

New Year's Resolution

September is typically when 2003 budgets begin to fall into place and the annual planning cycle kicks into gear. Even in post-Enron days, we'll see the usual budget "strategies." Budgets will be put in at higher amounts than needed with the assumption they will be cut. And, as 2002 draws to a close, any remaining budget dollars will be exhausted to ensure no funds carry over into 2003. Everyone knows—a dollar saved is a dollar lost from next year's budget.

Public relations professionals should already be reviewing the past year's efforts and results. Be sure to muster all the research, metrics and insight possible to fuel planning, even informal planning, prior to budgets being finalized. Why?

Budgets Can Define Strategies. Tactics ultimately define the budget. So you'll want to define your program's strategies first. If management decides how much "venture capital" will be invested in public relations for 2003 before your planning process, you're too late. Once the numbers are approved, the strategy must be reverse-engineered to fit the budget. Even if your budget seems healthy, the effectiveness of your program in 2003 will be impacted if you're forced to create a program within a predetermined number.

Public Relations Value Proposition. There is an even bigger picture here. All too often, the public relations industry whines about getting its seat at the management table. For a variety of reasons, the industry wants to move from the trenches into a leather chair. They're missing the point. The trenches bring public relations access and information that management values. Who other than public relations professionals have access to nearly every employee—from management to the line, customers, shareholders, competition, media and influencers? The earler we harness the insight this access brings us and funnel it to management, the better the planning process will be. And the better the planning process is, the more successful the program will be. Public relations' value rises with this tide.

Get ahead of your budget this year. Make an early New Year's resolution to get your research, evaluation and strategic planning accomplished in August. From this hard work, tactics and budgets can grow organically. This will make you even more likely to succeed in 2003.

posted by Kevin Dugan | 10:48:00 PM

Tuesday, August 06, 2002  

Smaller Strategies

As we've been looking at larger strategies focused on the brand thus far, I thought it would be good to zoom in on a few smaller strategies.

The following appears as PR News' "Strategy of the Week" for the week of August 5th.
This week's strategy: Don't let a successful launch end there. After a launch campaign that landed AK Steel, an integrated steel company, in The New York Times Magazine and on the "Today" show, HSR Business to Business relied on careful monitoring of the media landscape to keep the client's story alive.

AK Steel launched its Concept Home in February, 2001. The dramatic 11,000-square-foot home is currently under construction and is being outfitted with AK Steel's carbon and stainless steels coated with AgION(TM) Technologies' antimicrobial compound, which reduces the growth of bacteria, molds and fungi. Microbe-resistant steel products will be used in "high-touch zones" throughout the home, including handrails, doorknobs, faucets and food preparation surfaces. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning ductwork will also be made of antimicrobial-coated steel.

The PR team was looking for ways to generate a second wave of media attention between launch and completion in Fall 2002. Members of the team read about a study released by Battelle researchers in June of 2001: Top Ten Trends in Healthy Homes for 2010. Using this study as support, HSR created a pitch positioning the AK Steel Concept Home as an early example of several of these trends coming to fruition. The pitch noted that indoor air quality and germ-resistant materials, coatings and fabrics, designed to provide sterile surfaces, were identified by Battelle as two of the trends and that the AK Steel Concept Home was a good example of a project addressing these trends.

Research sells.This pitch immediately landed AK Steel in The Washington Post, Home magazine and ultimately on the cover of Popular Mechanics—along with several other placements.
Clearly the adage "you need to know the news to make the news" applies here. Interestingly enough, this story occurred completely over the Internet from start to finish. A few weeks ago, I responded to a Profnet query for this story via email and never heard back from the reporter. Thanks to Lexis-Nexis, we tracked the piece.

If you're interested in learning more about the project above, just click on the link to the right entitled "my ongoing project."

posted by Kevin Dugan | 9:59:00 PM