RAF Inspired: Back To Basics

RAF Inspired: Back To Basics
By Chelsea Wagner

I’m sorry for the misleading title, but the link you just clicked is actually not an Ina Garten fan fiction essay. If that is what you’re looking for, why? What kinds of elegant food preparation and easy entertaining techniques are you seeking that the real Ina can’t provide? Weirdo. You can go ahead and find your Ina fan fiction here, but I’m here to talk about a different kind of back to basics.  Though I do find really good vanilla and the infamous Jeffrey very inspiring, I’m actually here to talk about something way more nerdy.

I’m inspired by a textbook from my senior PR capstone class in college. I can’t even confidently tell you that I read that book cover to cover while I was actually assigned to do so, but several years later I find myself reaching for it at least once each week. Between my clients, the boundless fresh content available on the internet and all of you gorgeous creative people, I’m almost overwhelmed by the amount of information and ideas available. My textbook gives me the guardrails to keep my ideas rooted to the course and moving forward.

It’s easy to get comfortable with the notion that we’re professionals. We know what we’re doing. People tell us we’re good at what we do. Not only that, but we’re being paid to do it.

While it’s great to be confident in your craft and trust your instincts, there’s something about revisiting the foundations that I find refreshing and grounding each time. It reinforces that what I’m doing is probably worthwhile, since someone smarter than me wrote, published, sold, and taught a book about it. And it makes those instincts stronger because they are supported with real knowledge.

So what is this glorious book? I’m so glad you asked. It is Strategic Planning for Public Relations, 3rd edition, by Ronald D. Smith. In-stock and available at an e-commerce retailer near you.

What parts do I like best? I get a real kick out of pages 79-92, where they detail how to write goals and objectives. Goals and objectives sometimes seem like the easiest part of the plan, because you’ve done your research, you know your client and their stakeholders, and you know what they’re paying you to do. But, for me, the most challenging part is actually distilling all of that into an actionable goal and a measurable objective. Taking a step back to reread how to establish a goal and how to articulate an objective helps me to get out of my own way and write a more precise communication that is much easier to put into action.

Why do I have to keep rereading this? I find something different each time. Oftentimes I find something I wasn’t looking for, and that thing ends up being exactly what I needed to remove a block or push my work harder.

So really what I’m telling you is that those professors of ours were onto something. You know, assigning reading and all. I’m grateful that I had the good sense to forget to sell back that particular PR textbook, because here I am four years later, authentically inspired by it.