PR book On-line Readings in Public Relations by Michael Turney
Public relations planning:
Quick and dirty planning may suffice
© 1998; 2020 Michael Turney Table of contents Practicing Public Relations About the author

All public relations planning efforts do not require the same amount of work, nor do they produce the same results or even equivalent plans. In fact, the brevity or even complete absence of a written plan does not necessarily mean no planning was done.

At its most basic level public relations planning can be compared to the rudimentary technique Professor Harold Lasswell developed for analyzing and modeling mass communication. His oft-quoted approach to studying communication boiled down to four simple questions:

Translating this basic approach to public relations, the critical questions become:

Public relations people who can't clearly and concisely answer these questions before starting a project shouldn't start it. They obviously have little idea of what they're doing or why they're trying to do it.

On the other hand, public relations people who can answer these questions can be said to have done at least rudimentary planning. Whether they did the planning piecemeal and on the fly or all at once in scheduled planning meetings is irrelevant. And, whether it was done in writing or only in the mind of the practitioner is also irrelevant. What is relevant is that the planning was done and that the practitioners who did it now have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish and how they're going to go about doing it.

These observations aren't meant to denigrate formal, pencil and paper (or computer-aided) planning. There are times when such a level of planning is invaluable and absolutely necessary. But, there are also times when high-level, detailed planning is not necessary or could be considered overkill.

Having said this, I also need to add that entry level public relations practitioners need to realize that their clients, colleagues and employers may not always see things this way. They may not be satisfied with your assurances that you have a plan in mind. They may want to see it on paper, and that's their right and your responsibilty. You may have to produce a hard-copy plan just to maintain good working relationships with them, even if it means doing extra, and what you think is needless, work. Those supervisors and clients may be more concerned about verifying your productivity and assuring your accountability than they are with reviewing the specific details of your plan. For them, a written plan is tangible evidence of your productivity, not just a guide for your future actions.

Developing a PR plan  
Planning formats
PR planning is essential
Online Readings in PR
Table of contents
KFD is a basis for planning Practicing Public Relations home page