This step is about deciding what you want to achieve. You will need to understand the twin concepts of goals and objectives. Public relations and marketing strategists generally agree that goals are general and global while objectives are specific.
However, also realize that advertisers and other specialists rooted in business disciplines sometimes reverse the meanings of the terms or use them interchangeably. Here are short definitions of key concepts used in this step. They will be fleshed out in the subsequent pages.
As you set out to articulate the desired interaction you can have with your publics, first focus on positioning. Having previously identified the relevant public relations situation in Step 1, ask these simple questions:
A successful approach to strategic communication in a competitive environment is to position the organization according to its own particular niche.
Positioning is the process and result of managing how an organization distinguishes itself with a unique meaning in the mind of its publics. That is, how it wants to be seen and known by its publics, especially as distinct from its competitors.
A positioning statement is the articulation of how an organization wants to be seen and known, especially vis-à-vis its competition.
In many ways this is like a vision statement. (Be careful not to confuse positioning statement with a position statement, which is a specific public relations tactic that will be addressed in Step 7.)
The concept of distinctiveness is an important one for all organizations: large and small businesses, educational and charitable organizations, political and human service groups, hospitals, churches, government agencies, and sports teams.
In most settings, organizations are known more by their distinctiveness than by their similarities.
In the field of higher education, for example, a dozen or more schools might be located in a particular metropolitan area. Each is likely to be identified by its unique characteristics: the large public university, the small church-affiliated college, the high-priced two-year private school, the community college with open admissions, the midsized public institution that used to be a teachers' college, and so on.
Problems can occur when the niche is not unique. For example, if your school is one of two small church-affiliated colleges in the area, you will emphasize what distinguishes it from the other, such as lower costs, a suburban campus, graduate degrees, evening/weekend programs, or sponsorship by a particular denomination or religious community.
The concept of positioning is fluid, and some organizations have made successful attempts to reposition themselves to keep pace with a changing environment.
Cadillac went from stodgy to trendy, with ads featuring sporty red cars rather than black luxury models. Competitor Ford Lincoln hired actor Matthew McConaughey as its spokesman for a repositioning campaign to appeal to a new generation for luxury autos.
Old Spice updated its 75-year-old brand—and significantly increased sales—with a new slogan and new social media tactics centered on new spokesmen such as rapper LL Cool J, NFL veteran Isaiah Mustafa, and Black-ish star Deon Cole.
On the other hand, some reworking attempts have failed miserably. Pizza Hut had to issue a news release that it really wasn't changing its name to The ...