Public Relations Writing: Planning Memos

The Planning Memo

Think of the planning memo as the "public face" of your Message Planner. Here is where you get immediate rewards from all that work you put into doing the Message Planner right. It's where you get to "show off" all the thinking you've put into your pre-writing.

A good PR Writer makes the difficult look easy. Cool, calm and collected, no matter how much flak is flying, a PR Writer is like a stage manager in a high school production... the one with the clipboard who keeps track of everything, and confidently perseveres even when temperamental actors fly off the handle and lighting boards blow up and directors suddenly need a thunder machine a half hour before show time. A good PR Writer is so unflappable that anyone who didn't know better would think their job had no pressures or special requirements.

The planning memo is your opportunity to let people see below the surface of your work. It makes clear just how much planning, creative imagination, and experience have gone into the public relations planning you've been doing.

Oh, by the way: the planning memo also helps you accomplish your PR task -- it's not just about making you look good. The planning memo is an important tool for orchestrating your PR campaign and keeping all the elements -- from the first press release all the way down to the last thank-you letter after the last interview, all focused on delivering the same message.

What is a planning memo for?

You write a planning memo for your boss. In a major PR campaign, it's the stage between completing your Message Planner and beginning the hard work of putting it all together. That doesn't mean you necessarily write a planning memo before a press release -- the planning for your campaign may already have been done by someone at a higher level. But wherever no formal, written plan has been done, a planning memo can be appropriate -- even if you're at a low level of the PR hierarchy in your firm.

You write a planning memo for your client. If you're working independently, or as a member of a small firm, one-on-one with your client, the planning memo is an essential element of your collaboration. It tells the client exactly where you're starting, and where you're heading, and serves as an instrument of coordination between the client's expectations and what you intend to deliver.

You also write a planning memo to get your entire team on the "same page." When you write and circulate a planning memo, it's an opportunity for others to comment on and help you fine-tune your approach. It's the best time for serious differences of opinion to surface, so you can talk them through.

The planning memo helps you evaluate your progress. By stating clearly, up front, how you intend for your PR strategy to unfold, you make it easy to determine, later, how well it worked. It also becomes easier to understand where things took a different turn, and how you can make improvements.

Go on to the next page.

<< previous page next page >>