By Baha Hamadi, Founder & Managing Director, Keel Comms
The debate between strategy and tactics is as old as the concept of communication itself. While some agencies thrive on high-level, visionary thinking, others pride themselves on their hands-on, practical approach. You’d say a balance of both is crucial for success.
But for years, many brands have been seduced by the allure of ‘strategic thinking’. They've invested heavily in agencies offering sophisticated models, compelling narratives, and grandiose visions of the future, often through long presentations and rehearsed speeches. But all too often, these strategic plans end up gathering dust on a shelf while the day-to-day realities of running a business take precedence.
This is not to say that strategy is irrelevant. On the contrary, a well-thought-out strategy provides a roadmap for a company's growth and development. It gives a sense of direction and purpose, aligning all actions towards a common goal. But do all brands and circumstances require strategy? And how often do we need to adjust our strategies in today’s fast-paced market?
The key problem arises when brands become so enamored with the strategy that they lose sight of the practicalities of implementation. This 'strategy-only' trap can lead to a disconnect between a brand's vision and its real-world operations.
In contrast, tactical agencies focus on creating actionable plans that can be executed efficiently. They understand the importance of making the most of available resources now and ensuring that every action contributes towards achieving the company's objectives.
These agencies don't just talk about what needs to be done; they roll up their sleeves and get down to doing it. They prioritize driving results over engaging in endless discussions about possible scenarios. They understand that in the rapidly evolving world of business, time and speed are of the essence, and actions speak louder than words.
The key is to identify agencies that strike a balance between visionary thinking and pragmatic action, leaning more towards those who prioritize action, in my opinion. Agencies need to ensure that their strategic plans are grounded and present clear, actionable roadmaps for execution.
A crucial aspect to consider when partnering with a PR agency is their approach to strategy. My advice is never to appoint an agency that solely focuses on strategy. While strategy undoubtedly plays a pivotal role in any PR campaign, an agency that only specializes in strategy might overlook the essential execution aspects that bring those strategies to life. A well-rounded PR agency should possess a balanced blend of strategic thinking and tactical implementation to ensure the devised strategies translate into meaningful results. Otherwise, it’s ‘strategy washing’.
Relying on a strategy-focused PR agency could potentially limit the adaptability and responsiveness needed to navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of digital media, social platforms, and emerging communication channels. Agencies should be equipped to formulate strategies that not only align with clients’ goals but also consider the nuances of various media outlets, engagement tactics, and real-time audience interactions.
Successful PR involves adapting to real-time changes, leveraging current trends, and navigating unforeseen challenges – all of which are better managed by an agency with a holistic approach.