We have our vendor picked and an on-site location ready. What else do we need to make our SMT successful?
First and foremost, be sure you have the best spokesperson possible, advises Linda Buckley of KEF Media Associates.
"Pick a person with credibility who can fluently discuss more than just your client's messages and talking points," she says. "A knowledgeable third party with background and understanding of the topic relating to your client's message or product is invaluable."
A good spokesperson can veer off topic and keep the viewer interested, adds Buckley, but then circle back into the SMT talking points.
"It's often economically tempting to use a corporate spokesperson, but there are some tricky drawbacks to doing so," she warns. "While there may be great demand for the CEO, employees may be viewed as too biased to TV producers, which can torpedo your placements.
And with any spokesperson, media training is a must to pull off a polished SMT."
How can we use research to plan PR campaigns. Is it similar to those used for other marketing efforts?
There are no shortages of ways to use research to inspire your PR initiatives - from developing strategy to communications testing through media evaluation, explains Catherine Reynolds Shores of Echo Research. Fundamentally, it depends upon the PR objectives at the outset.
"Is your PR program designed to change perceptions of your corporate brand? Will it be used as a thought-leadership vehicle to gain media attention?" she asks. "Is it seen and used as a sales-support tool, a crisis-management tool, a new product-development launch, or as strategic counsel to support decision-making? Each different objective will dictate what form of communications research is most suitable."
Communications methods traditionally used in ad planning, such as consumer studies and online message testing, have quickly crossed over into the PR world.
"Finding the right research partner and communicating your objectives will enable you to conduct the research within your timeframe and budget," notes Shores.
Are organizations spending enough time on crisis planning?
James Lukaszewski of The Lukaszewski Group doesn't believe so. During one of his recent international teleconferences, where all attendees were specifically learning about designing and developing crisis plans, his sentiments were confirmed when he asked this question: "What are your current crisis-planning activities?"
The answers broke down as such: 8% were thinking about getting started, 17% were starting from scratch, 20% were picking up somebody else's work, 19% were checking their own competence, 44% were updating existing plans, 46% were critiquing their readiness, 17% were auditing all plans, 53% were looking for good tips, 2% were completely lost and adrift, 8% were partially lost and adrift, and 20% ignored the question.
The total tops 100% because many individuals offered more than one answer. This rather informal and qualitative information indicates that many companies need to seriously boost their crisis-planning efforts.