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Many PROs talk the talk about planning, but how many are really doing it?

Remember back in those dark teenage years when it seemed everyone was having a lot more fun than you? 

Magazines implied everyone else was out partying and snogging away. Monday morning was when you imagined that while you had been at home with your parents watching TV, the rest of the crew was ripping it up somewhere on Saturday and definitely not in bed by 10.

And then you realised that it was all a myth. One day, probably around the time you turned 30, you worked out that most people are having as little fun as you are and that you should never believe their social posts!

Talking the talk
I’ve long suspected that PROs are exactly like that when it comes to planning. We all talk a good game about being ‘strategic’ but deep down we’re all as tactical as each other. My theory is that, given a choice, most comms pros would rather fire off a few emails or pick up a phone than spend a couple of hours with a spreadsheet and a stack of data.

Despite the countless articles I’ve seen about the need to see the bigger picture and the pile of books gathering dust in my office, I know an awful lot of PROs who never plan beyond a bit of budgeting. And I’m certain the reason so many people are shy of evaluation is because it’s hard to measure what you never really set out to do in the first place. Agencies might talk big when they’re pitching but as soon as the job’s won it’s back to the same old routine of reaction and waiting for something interesting to happen.

The stats
This is a conversation I’ve been having with friends for years and I’ve decided its time I got to the bottom of it. I’m inviting PROs to take a short survey and either confirm my hypothesis or restore my faith in communicators.

The survey takes just a few minutes to complete and asks about how professionals approach planning, where stakeholders are involved, what factors are considered and the reasons why some plans never see the light of day.

Joining up
I’m working in partnership with software specialists ICPlan.Com because I also think plans are often not very well integrated. When I’ve worked in-house and in agency it’s often been a struggle to get colleagues to think across the different disciplines that make up communications. Internal comms can be treated like an afterthought or engagement specialists don’t always consider the reputational implication of a particular message.

So far, we’ve had an excellent response from around the world and from internal communicators but we need to get a bigger input from pure PROs. We’re especially grateful to hear from in-house practitioners.

If you need an added incentive, for every complete response we’ll make a donation to MSF’s Covid appeal.

The survey closes in mid-July and were aiming to publish the findings in September; just like going back to school at the end of summer and discovering what Danny and Sandy got up to (or rather didn’t) down in the sand...

Written by Liam FitzPatrick, partner at Donhead Consultants

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