I had a final catch up with one of my PR mentees this morning who’s been part of the PR Mentor program I’ve just completed running, and he was telling me that one of the things the program made him aware of is the importance of discipline. Not the media tips or the ‘how to’ for social media, but the actual discipline required for public relations to be effective.

So it was quite ironic that 30 minutes later, back at my desk, I was reading these exact words in Craig Pearce’s Public relations 2011: issues, insights and ideas report: “Public relations strategy is over-rated”.

The article, ‘Critical elements public relations strategy should always consider’, written by PR practitioner Paul Roberts, went on to say:

“Let’s be clear. Public relations, like any form of communications, is important. But let’s not over-complicate the process.”

Quite rightly, Paul explains that a PR strategy comes down to identifying the who, what, when, where, why and how.

PR Report 2011: Issues, Insights, Ideas

Although these elements are absolutely essential, the piece of the puzzle I believe is missing from Paul’s article – and the one my PR mentee’s feedback really brought home for me – is the importance of the bigger picture. Before considering the ‘Ws & H’, it is crucial to take a step back and have a look at the broader objectives, what is it you’re trying to achieve?

Desirable outcomes of a PR program, such as an increase in awareness, change of attitude or the creation of a new behaviour do not happen overnight. Repetition – and discipline in this repetition – is key. And in my experience, having a strategic plan that looks at all the possible avenues to communicate your messages set in a realistic timeline will make the process more holistic, increasing the chances of success. Plus, it helps to make people more accountable for their actions.

Paul concludes his article with: “PR pros won’t get bogged down on drafting a strategy, because for them it is just common sense.”

Although I do agree that it is common sense to us, I still believe that without a disciplined approach or a strategy to your PR initiatives, you become reactive, ad hoc or simply silent – not increasing your business’ profile!

What do you, PR practitioners, think of that? Does a PR program need a strategy? Or is it more important to jump straight into action?