Goal, Objectives, Strategies and Tactics

From the APR Study Guide:


Goals are longer-term, broad, global and future statements of “being.” Goals may include how an organization is uniquely distinguished in the minds of its key publics.

Example: To become the recognized leader in our industry and foster continuing public support.


Publics are groups of people tied together by some common element. Before starting to plan, public relations practitioners need to clearly define groups with which an organization needs to foster mutually beneficial relationships. Objectives need to say which public a public relations strategy is designed to reach.


(from this IPR whitepaper) Management guru Peter F. Drucker said, “Objectives are not fate; they are direction. They are not commands; they are commitments. They do not determine the future; they are means to mobilize the resources and energies of the business for the making of the future.”

Objectives focus on a shorter term than goals. Objectives are written after research on all publics is done. Objectives (1) define WHAT opinion, attitude or behavior you want to achieve from specific publics, (2) specify how much change you want to achieve from each public, and (3) tell by when you want to achieve that change. Objectives should be SMART:
• Specific (both action to be taken and public involved)
• Measurable
• Achievable
• Realistic (or relevant or results (outcome) oriented)
• Time-specific

Objectives establish standards for assessing the success of your public relations efforts. Objectives come
in three general types:
• Output objectives measure activities, e.g., issue 10 news releases during the month or post three tweets per day. Outputs can help monitor your work but have no direct value in measuring the effectiveness of a campaign. The Barcelona Principles discourage the use of output objectives.
• Process objectives call for you to “inform” or “educate” publics.
• Outcome objectives specify changes in awareness, opinions, behavior or support. (For example, “Increase downloads of our product coupon by 25 percent from October levels by Dec. 31.”) Outcome objectives require high-level strategic thinking. You must determine, for instance, which changes would be consistent with organizational goals and demonstrate public relations effectiveness to management. (For example, a fundraising objective may be more appropriate for a nonprofit organization’s annual gala than an attendance or awareness objective.
The group’s board is likely most concerned about raising money.) “Differentiate between measuring public relations ‘outputs,’ generally short-term and surface (e.g., amount of news coverage, number of blog posts) and measuring public relations ‘outcomes,’ usually more farreaching and carrying greater impact (changing awareness, attitudes and even behavior)” (Seitel,2001, 145).

(from PR Couture) Tips for writing PR objectives

  • Start with an action verb – words like increase, reduce, improve, maintain work well
  • If you are using “by” you are writing a strategy, not an objective. Try again.

Are these good or bad objectives?

  • To help humankind
  • To add $1,000,000 in PR-attributable sales in the new year
  • To secure 15 blog posts on UK-based style blogs within 2 months (via PR Couture)
  • Raise awareness of “cleaning power” among women 25-34 from 20% last year to 50% this year.
  • Create an understanding of insurance pricing models by the end of the campaign in November.
  • By the end of the year, convince 10% of customers that bank fees are an acceptable charge.
  • To raise awareness for the Foundation’s signature fundraising weekend through earned media placements and social media activation in order to drive event ticket sales, increase total amount raised for children’s charities and increase awareness for the Foundation’s overall mission


Strategies provide the roadmap to your objectives. (Communication strategies target publics for change. Action strategies focus on organizations’ internal changes.)
• Strategies describe HOW to reach your objectives.
• Strategies include “enlist community influentials to …,” “accelerate involvement with …,” “position the company as …” or “establish strategic partnerships with … .”

Broom and Sha define strategies as “the overall concept, approach, or general plan for the program designed to achieve an objective.”

Strategies connect objectives to tactics, or “the events, media, and methods used to implement the strategy.”

From PR Couture (again):

Tips for writing PR strategies

  • Use action verbs like Develop, Create, Promote, Target, etc
  • Did you just write Develop a look book to….. sorry kitten, strategies do not include the “to” phrase. The “to” in this case is to meet the stated objective. The stinker.
  • Also omit your tendancy to use “by” – as in “Promote my brand by developing a look book to – that look book you are all amped about? That, my friend is a tactic. What you DO with that look book is your strategy.

Example:  Promote Lottie Lingerie through personalized pitches to 50 UK-based style bloggers


Tactics are specific elements of a strategy or tools for accomplishing a strategy.
• Examples include meetings, publications, product tie-ins, community events, news releases, online
information dissemination and social networks.
• Activities are details of tactics: six meetings, four publications, three blog posts and one tweet per
day. Activities have dates, indicate who is in charge and tell what attendance or outcome is expected.


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