I’ve been tasked with writing FAQs hundreds of times in my career. Clients aiming to educate the public on everything from clean air to construction plans have turned to this reliable communications format. It’s both simple and effective, anticipating questions and providing answers in a way that can clarify positions and correct misinformation.
But just once, I wish someone would ask me to write SAQs – Should Ask Questions. If they did, they’d certainly improve their chances of PR success.
PR efforts are often hampered by getting too far down the road before asking important questions. It doesn’t take much – asking just a handful of good questions can put your PR efforts on the path to success, if they are asked at the right time.
So here they are… SAQs for anyone embarking on a PR effort, particularly if you are planning to engage an outside agency, annotated to include some of the reasoning behind them:
What do I expect to achieve with PR?
This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many clients begin a PR effort with nothing more than a vague sense that they’d like to raise their visibility.
What does success look like in this situation?
This is about metrics. What are the specific outcomes that add up to the overall achievement that you defined in SAQ #1?
Who is my audience, and what do I know about them?
Be specific here, folks. Everyone wants to market to millennials – you’ve got to know more than a person’s age to know how to reach them.
What resources (time, money, talent, etc.) are available? How much am I willing to invest in order to be successful?
Knowing what you want to achieve and how to do it is a great start, but you’ve got to have the resources to make it happen. Do you have the time to devote to onboarding an agency so they can begin to deliver results quickly? Who will manage the agency, and do they have the right skillset for it? Do you have financial resources to achieve your goals? If you find a mismatch between expected outcomes and available resources, address it before you begin a PR program.
What is my timeline?
Understanding how soon you need to see results is easier if you’ve got a specific trade show or product launch on the horizon, but it’s no less important if you’re starting an ongoing PR effort.
Ask yourself these five questions and you’ll be giving yourself a head start on success. (You’ll also put yourself in the running for Client of the Year!)
Are there any SAQs you’d add to the list?