This article was originally published in 2015 and has been completely updated in 2020.
Knowing how to set goals and objectives in the planning of your communication activities makes you much more effective.
Setting communication goals and objectives creates several benefits. It lets people know what is expected of them, it lets others know what is planned, it helps to quantify the resources that are needed and when, it helps to improve communication between the participants, and it creates measurable results.
A widely held myth for many years was that public relations performance could not really be measured and therefore couldn’t be expected to undergo the performance and budget scrutiny that other areas of the organization were obliged to accept. These days you can prove the value of your PR work by setting and achieving measurable objectives for your activities.
Goals are the means to express the end points towards which effort is directed. They are broad, relatively abstract and may be difficult to quantify (“Our goal is to increase our share of the marketplace for [our product].”)
Objectives are subsets of goals and should be expressed in concrete, measurable terms. (“Our objective is to increase our share of the market in the largest city in this State for [our product] by 15% by the end of the next financial year.”) An objective is something that can be documented; it’s factual and observable.
A set of goals is achieved only by achieving a subset of interrelated objectives, even if those objectives are not clearly stated or articulated. Therefore, an objective is a strategic step along the way to achieving a desired goal.
There are generally three types of goals in public relations:
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