Have annual PR plans given way to campaign led planning?

Earlier this year, Padilla's Tina Charpentier, penned a blog asking whether annual PR planning still makes sense.

She said, "While we all can appreciate the enthusiasm of wanting to return to places and things familiar, the idea of trying to nail down where the world is headed and how you and your clients fit into it over the next 12 months – or the next six months, for that matter – seems like misspent energy."

She then asked the question, "Has the annual plan reached the end of its useful life?"

Well, yes and no. While Indian PR professionals still feel an overarching annual plan still matters, the bigger shift has happened towards the way PR is being approached overall and consequently, its planning.

Campaign-led plans

There will always be the tent pole events around which brands and companies have to be well organised: Huw 

Huw Gildon, chief strategy officer, of Edelman APAC pointed out, "Calendar-based planning cycles will always be important. But more and more our clients need us to be producing original, differentiated ideas that are borne out of insight from the culture and audiences that they interact with, and to deliver them at a time when it is most relevant and interesting to those audiences, and that is never going to neatly match a calendar planning cycle.” 

Yamini Reddy agrees. Reddy who has recently set up her own PR firm The Outlier says, "Planning post-pandemic isn't announcement-based anymore but campaign based. Every company is trying to create its intellectual property in the industry, resulting in a more campaign-led communication strategy. I also believe today's communication and content are more direct, engaging, and leading with impact. Content was always king, in my opinion, but it's come to the forefront again."

Planning post-pandemic isn't announcement-based anymore: Yamini 

Reddy also adds that in order to plan in a flexible manner, some of the factors to be kept in mind include, "A clear idea of announcements, message priorities, and industry outlook is critical to developing and executing SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) goals. It's what has worked for us well!"

Covid has forced quicker planning 

Arijit De, chief client officer, Genesis BCW says, "Covid forced communication strategists to focus more on the “now”, as what was happening around you was quite unprecedented and unexpected. No amount of experience could have possibly prepared even seasoned PR practitioners for the limitless surprises that would spring up almost every day. However, the situation seems to have stabilised and normalcy is largely back.

The importance of annual plans will not get diluted: Arijit

The learning curve has been very pretty steep in these two testing years, and I believe communications professionals have emerged from the crisis more mature and nimble. And these learnings are now getting baked into the planning – both strategic and tactical."

De adds, "You can’t have a same-size-fits-all approach as the extent of the disruption is different for different industries. For example, the approach you take for a technology company will be very different from how you approach a financial services company. One needs to structure a strategy for an organisation as per the needs of that industry, keeping in mind the pace at which the industry is evolving.

However, the risk one runs of having too short-term an approach is that you could lose sight of the larger, long-term organisational goal."

PR firms must segregate long-term strategic plans into more manageable, and distinct ones: Pooja

Pooja Pathak, founder and director of Media Mantra strikes a practical note saying, " Regardless of the industry, both annual and quarterly plans have their own unique relevance. Thus, we must not weigh them on the same scale. Acting on the need to consistently evolve and grow with the changing market situations, a modern-day PR firm thrives with an annual plan at the helm of its affairs. But, organizations still need quarterly plans to ensure it's heading in the right direction - one that's aligned with the annual plan. I believe the best approach is to combine these two strategies."

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