Creating a strong engagement plan from scratch

media and public affairs professionalPublic Affairs Tip: Know your outputs from your outcomes.

How would you feel if someone asked you to develop an engagement/public affairs plan? Would you know where to start? Squirm? Lose sleep? It can happen to the best of us. Anyway, this simple three-step guidance is here to help re-assure those who might fret at the thought. No more night sweats for you. Calm’s the word.

       Where do you want to get to? Be brave.

  •  Build a community of advocates to raise awareness about . . .
  •  Kick start a new conversation around . . .
  •  Create more positive media coverage so that . . .
  •  Extend reach to key decision makers/influencers/opinion-formers which would include . . . .
  •  Become famous as . . .
  •  Create business opportunities with . . .

        Where are you now? Be honest.

  • Who are you engaging with at the moment?
  • Are there key audiences you’re targeting?
  • Who are they and why?
  • Do people really know what your organisation does, what it does and why?
  • How do you know that? (evidence)
  • Has your public profile changed over the last couple of years (got stronger/weaker)?
  • How do you know that?

        What does success look like? Be clear.

  • How are you going to measure your outputs and outcomes; and evaluate success?

Outputs are the products, services or facilities that result from your activities.

Outcomes are the benefits and changes that result from your activities.

If we take the idea of building a community of advocates to raise awareness as where we want to get to, then:

The outputs might be:

  • The number of advocates you’ve managed to recruit.
  • The number of advocates who are MPs, journalists, councillors etc.
  • The number of internal advocates who have been trained in effective messaging.

And the outcomes might be:

  • A better understanding of . . .
  • Improved quality of life for your clients.
  • Improved experience for . . .

If you’re interested in knowing more about public affairs strategy, then why not take a look at two CIPR Excellence Public Affair winners: Guide Dogs Dog Attacks Campaign and Fair Fuel UK Campaign

I hope you’ve found this useful. If you have any thoughts, reflections, ideas, insights please do get in touch.

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