Tim Aldiss writes for Four Broadgate, a financial services and higher education public relations (PR) agency.

Even the most perfectly worded PR campaign will be of little use if it has not been actioned within an appropriate time frame. Moreover, when it comes to time frames, the PR landscape is changing. Gone are the days of long, drawn out campaigns that could last several years. Nowadays, it seems that much tighter time frames are the order of the day for PR companies and some campaigns need to be implemented within very short timescales  . But, how will this change affect the way in which PR planning is conducted? Read on to find out how tightened campaign time frames have impacted PR strategy.

The power of the now

One of the key changes that has been made to PR planning is that insights now need to be actioned much more quickly. Nowadays however, time frames are much tighter. Insights need to be developed, integrated into a PR campaign, released and disseminated as soon as possible. That means that PR companies need to think on their feet much more, responding rapidly to current events – whether that is a celebrity story or a momentary dip in the stock market.

 

The spectre of sensationalism

It can be hard to draw together – and check – hard facts all in a single day. And so, PR strategists need to exert themselves more in order to ensure that their campaigns are not only relevant to present day events but also informative, useful and factually accurate. One simple way to get round this problem is just to hire more researchers who can form part of any given PR team.

 

Projections for the future

In today’s climate of tight time frames it is important not just to reflect current events but also to stay a little ahead of them. PR companies should aim to set trends as well as reflect them in their campaigns. And that means incorporating a substantial amount of projections for the future in any PR or marketing campaign. Ongoing analysis of projected future events should be an integral part of any PR company’s work in the present day. That means staying abreast of news stories and trends in buying patterns (often by drawing on data from previous years) so that accurate predictions can be made about what customers will be interested in tomorrow. It is interesting, though, that one of the chief PR strategists at McDonald’s recently said that PR companies should not try to be too far ahead of their customers. Simply put, formulating marketing strategies that aim to set trends years in the future is not worth the effort. Today and tomorrow ought to be the scope of the modern PR strategist’s time frame.

 

The bottom line: challenges of tighter time frames

Tighter PR time frames offer great potential for PR strategists but they also offer several challenges. Key challenges include the need to stay relevant and factually accurate at the same time, and the need to turn those campaign strategies around and disseminate them all within the same day. It can be done, though – it’s all about establishing a rhythm with your campaign and sticking to it.

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