Whether you’re in-house, at an agency or doing it yourself; having a strong foundation in managing a PR campaign is essential for getting the results you need at the end of the program. Effective PR management can not only help you hit all your targets, but maximize your ROI, stay under budget, and forge an effective team that’s a force to be reckoned with in the communications world. Here are a few quick tips on how to stay on target with your plan.

Get everyone involved in planning

Before any campaign gets started, there’s always a planning stage that outlines the goals you want to reach, the tactics you’ll use to reach them, and the underlying message that every tactic should hit back to or support. Make sure everyone who will be involved in the execution of the plan has had some input; this helps achieve two key elements of a successful plan. First, it will make it easier for everyone to understand the plan and stay on point if they had a chance to contribute their ideas. Once everyone understands how their ideas fit in with the other moving parts, it’ll be harder to lose focus of the “big picture”. Secondly, people are more willing to fight for something if they feel they have a vested interest in it. If you’ve contributed something to a plan, no matter how small, you’re now a part of that plan and you’ll want to see it succeed.

Stick to the plan

Anyone who’s worked in PR knows that the only thing that’s certain in the business is uncertainty. Things can change at a second’s notice, so it seems counterintuitive to focus on “sticking to the plan”. However, with every plan there are outlined goals, tactics on how to reach those goals, and and underlying message that every tactic should lead back to, tying it all together. When you have to change tactics on the fly, choose your substitutions wisely. Ask yourself, “Does this fit in with the plan? Does this support our message?” When you have a strong plan outlined it’s okay to color outside of the lines every now and then, as long as you don’t lose sight of the ultimate focus.

Know your team

A great manager is above all else, a great leader. And as such, it’s a manager’s responsibility to know their team’s members, their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes, etc. If you’re delegating tasks, make sure that you assign duties to the team members who have skills that complement that task. If someone is a good writer, have them be your first choice for written materials. If another stronger by communicating verbally, have them be your lead on phone pitching or on the floor at industry events. When you’re managing externally, like with an agency or other vendor, take the same approach but keep in mind things like each team member’s billing rate and skill level. Making the right assignment choices are key to getting the results you want, and staying on track with budget.

Work with the ebb and flow

Things always change with any plan, and a good manager stays on top of these shifts with quick responses. If someone on your team did a great job on something, make sure they’re recognized for it. Well-timed kudos are key for building team morale and project momentum. If someone missed the mark, open up discourse with them and work together to identify the misstep and how it can be improved in the future. And above all else, listen to your team members who are operating on the front line of the campaign; they will have first-hand insight as to what is working and what needs work.

Evaluate constantly, not just at the end

Most folks save the project evaluation stage until the campaign has ran its course. However, evaluating every tactic in real time can make for more impressive results when all is said and done. During a game’s life cycle, chances are you’ll show it at more than one trade show. So, take what you learn from each showing and apply it to each subsequent event where you’ll show the game. Apply it to every tactic like what development team members you bring along, where you show the game, who you show it to, etc. Judge every tactic’s effectiveness and use it to tweak any upcoming tactics where relevant; don’t just let things “run their course”.

When you’re effectively managing your PR plan, team and strategy, great things happen. The key to staying ahead of the curve is staying on top of the day-to-day, and that type of attention to detail is a cornerstone to any successful management.