'Aim' Projects with Objectives

By Barger, Richard B. | Communication World, May 1995 | Go to article overview

'Aim' Projects with Objectives


Barger, Richard B., Communication World


I want to pose a hypothesis: Most of us "do" objectives wrong. In competitions and in the work place, many otherwise excellent communicators stumble when it comes to preparing project objectives.

Oh, surely most IABCers are good enough communicators that we don't begin a project without at least thinking of objectives, even if we don't always write them down.

What is it we want to accomplish? What publics do we want to affect? By when? With what business result? And, most important, how will we know if we hit our target?

I don't recall ever seeing a Call for Entries that failed to ask the entrant to include project objectives. They are required in accreditation portfolios. They're in almost every business plan and communication proposal ever written.

And, frankly, formulating well designed project objectives is just good professional practice.

It's pretty easy to slam something down on paper, and call them objectives. But, done right, they're not that simple. Not even close.

In my opinion, good project objectives have three characteristics:

* They support the objectives of the organization.

* They are action-oriented.

* They are evaluable.

Your organization or client has goals and objectives for operating its business, for doing what it does that provides you with a paycheck.

If there is anything done by your communication department that doesn't directly support the parent company's operational objectives, why are you doing it? You are, frankly, wasting corporate resources.

Recently, I saw a set of contest objectives that were, roughly, to "educate and reform consumers" and to "position [the company] as an expert." These are fairly typical, and typically wrong.

How do they help the company?

I doubt that the corporation - which is a heavy equipment manufacturer, not a consulting or information services company - has any corporate goal of "educating and informing consumers," or of becoming known as "an expert."

Whatever the communication objective should have been, they weren't the ones that were put down on paper.

The true objectives may have been to get the company's name and expertise before the public in order to increase brand awareness, or to develop store traffic, or to increase sales, or something similar. Such action-oriented objectives support the purposes of the parent corporation, and they can be measured. …

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