Demystifying Ideation Vs. Execution dilemma in PR & Communications

“Execution matters more than an idea in PR & Communications”.

“Even if the idea is weak, it’s good as long as we can execute it well.”

“A great execution doesn’t make a great campaign. A stellar idea does.”

“If your idea is great, nobody cares about the execution.”

If you are someone who has been in the PR & Communications industry, I am sure you must have come across such notions wherein execution is made to hold a greater value against an idea or a strategy or vice-versa. When I had just entered the PR & Communications industry, a few years back, all I knew was ideas and no execution. I viewed the two as distinct skills, existing in silos, exclusively independent of each other. For me, either one could have been an ‘idea’ person or an ‘execution’ person. One is not supposed to do the two simultaneously. 

Nakul Ghai, PR & Marketing Communications professional

Well, now, having spent considerable time in the communications industry, I understand how narrow my perception had been. Compartmentalising a skill set which is so intricately intermeshed had been nothing less than of a lacuna in judgement of a novice. I unabashedly admit and accept the gap in my understanding of the profession.

Idea and execution go hand in hand, no matter what the profession is. It is inseparable from each other.

Imagine you have a thought in mind, but you don’t know how to communicate it. Or you know how to communicate a thought, but you don’t really have a thought in the first place. A situation like this won’t lead to any result. Either your thought will remain a thought and not see the light of the day, or even if your thought is conveyed, it might not create the desired impact.

The same analogy can be applied to the theory of ideation and execution in Communications.

A weak idea or strategy cannot be implemented well, no matter how best the execution team is. The idea might work well basis the myopic lens with which you use it, but it can never add the kind of value that any brand custodian would want. Similarly, a well-thought of PR or Communications strategy may not work well if the execution is not taken care of, with great detail. It may fall flat if any part the execution goes haywire.

There was a time when I was to create a strategy to communicate the impact of the CSR initiatives of a global brand. Within no time, I suggested a broad plan encompassing promotional release, videos, media interactions and interviews. Everyone was impressed, given the expectations that I had created. It was the best plan/strategy in my view. However, it all went down the moment I was told to execute it. No media gave a positive response. None of the opportunities got converted. Nothing appeared; nothing got conveyed. It all led to nothingness.In my defence, I may argue that the plan was great, but the truth of the matter is that it was unrealistic from the purview of execution.

It is only during execution and in my conversations with the media personnel that I stumbled upon the actual strategy to make it work. The strategy to not promote the CSR initiatives but rather convey the impact of it. How many lives it changed? How those lives have been changed? How much targets have we achieved etc.?

As an outcome, I took my biggest learning- there is no great idea sans great execution and vice-versa.

In a profession as demanding as brand communications, a great idea is the first step to a great execution. One leads to another rather than one riding the show on its own, without the presence of the other. 

One more aspect that I think should be taken into consideration by most of the PR and Communications professionals is to understand that an idea or a strategy is language-agnostic. If it is tested well and corroborated by robust instances and research, it may work well. 

One doesn’t need to measure the efficacy of an idea on the yardstick of the language in which it has been conveyed. 

I would advise all the young professionals and new entrants in the industry to strive for perfection in both ideation and execution. You will never know if an idea would work well or not if you haven’t ever executed it. You will never know ‘what’ and ‘how’ to execute if you will not have an idea or a strategy in place. Also try ensuring that your idea is corroborated by facts, figures, research and has a method of application attached to it.

Remember that a good storyteller is always the one who knows all the tricks of a trade.

Authored by Nakul Ghai, PR & Marketing Communications professional.