“He who fails to plan, plans to fail”

Posted by janelle on July 20, 2010 in Leadership, Strategy, Tips |

As a journalism major, I graduated with a solid grasp of AP style, the inverted pyramid, basic reporting and attention to detail. In January 1996, I had the opportunity to move into full-time public relations. That summer, I found the Public Relations Society of America Web site and learned the basics of communications planning.

Over the years, I’ve taught communications planning to students seeking to achieve their accreditation in PR through PRSA using a basic template: RACE

Research/Background:  Identify your current situation.

  • Situational analysis: What’s going on now?
  • Audiences: Who are you trying to reach?
  • SWOT analysis: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Action plan:

  • Set your broad goals. Ex: Teach people how to avoid becoming victims of ID theft.
  • Map out your strategies. Ex. Hold a multi-city educational tour. Develop a coordinated media plan.
  • Develop measurable objectives: How will you know when you’ve succeeded? How will you measure it? 90 percent of people who attend our meetings will report via the exit survey they learned a new skill they will implement to avoid ID theft.

Communications Grid:

  • Lay out your tactics-What are you going to do?
  • Determine a time line- When are you going to do it?
  • Assign owners- Who’s going to do it?

I like to use a basic table in Word. Generally, it doesn’t have to be super-complicated.


  • Implement your evaluation plan and measure your progress.
  • Be ready to tweak your plan if you’re not receiving the progress you seek!

While I’ve seen variations on this theme, I credit my APR instructor, Suzanne Hartman, from Seattle City Light with this model. Hope it helps you!

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