How to build agility into your Q1 PR strategy
Xander Hall, Senior Account Executive, Touchdown PR, a Ruder Finn company.
With agility comes versatility
The concept of agility has dashed into the arsenal of marketing buzzwords, particularly on the way into 2023. Whilst these concepts tend to come and go, agile marketing looks poised to permeate the zeitgeist and find a permanent position in an organisation’s repertoire. With its ability to deliver a measurable impact on your company’s marketing strategy, its unique position enables it to hit touchpoints both from a reactive and proactive standpoint. However, like many consolidated techniques, it can run the risk of being spread too thin. The solution: Find a way to implement it correctly.
Whilst this marketing variant is agile by design when integrated into your 2023 marketing plans, you must ensure it doesn’t succumb to any pitfalls. To face these challenges, you and your team need to understand the path beforehand, the need for organisation, and, most importantly, accountability.
But what are the specific elements of an agile marketing strategy, and what makes them so nimble?
Trying to pin down agility
Whilst many might understand the definitions of ‘agility’ and ‘marketing’, their partnership can change both parameters. The two can appear in almost a dichotomy to one another, with one calling for a freedom-based approach and the other being traditionally more metric-driven.
Initially developed in project management, an ‘agile’ methodology refers to breaking the project into several phases. These phases involve constant collaboration between stakeholders, with the target or improvement at every stage. Once the work begins, teams cycle through a process of planning, executing, and evaluating, with continuous collaboration acting as the bond between actions. Any given approach to agility may require a range of different moving parts, from cloud-based software for accounting teams, to holding virtual daily sprints in creative teams.
The changes in our environment and culture have heavily influenced market strategy. As a result of the pandemic, global warfare, and political escalations, we exist in a much more dynamic landscape. This situation is reflected in business, where leaders and teams are expected to plan but leave resources to react to the unexpected. The problem is how to get the best of both worlds, leaving marketing managers asking: Is there a proactive way to be reactive?
A strategy and a reaction walk into a bar
The difference between reactivity and proactivity at the surface resembles comparing apples to oranges.
Reactive marketing refers to using responsive and relatively unexpected or sudden techniques. When utilised effectively, these strategies enable the brand to take on a more dynamic and ‘human’ feel, allowing the organisations to listen and engage with their consumers, helping to create a buzz. However, there are cons, including the effect creation of this content can have on the teams involved due to the constant requirement of quick responses and development.
The opposite is to take on an approach of proactive marketing. This forward-thinking strategy relies on companies researching to develop data-driven campaigns and objectives for marketing plans they can follow. But, much like the reactive approach, there can be weaknesses to relying heavily on this strategy. For example, these strategies require more time and effort in preparation for marketing strategies and can be restrictive should broader changes occur compared to a reactive approach.
The truth is that the best way is to implement both, which is that strategy we refer to as ‘agile marketing’.
How to build agile marketing into your Q1 PR plan
1. Make a content calendar
It is natural to want to slow down as we come to the end of the year. January is literally another year away, and if anything comes up, we can react to it with a tried and tested ad hoc approach. Whilst tempting, without a content calendar, your organisation will likely miss key awareness days, forget the ideas you had in 2022 and lose momentum from your marketing efforts this year. By creating a content calendar as a team, your organisation can sustain your regular content creation with time left over for more reactive projects. As a result, you can secure the most from proactive and reactive marketing approaches and become fully agile.
We are all probably guilty of having spent time creating a to-do list, only to be so impressed with ourselves that we don’t get around to achieving it. To combat this, our content calendars need to not only exist but also be actionable to specific team members. By incorporating actionability as a central component of the content calendar rather than an afterthought, organisations can sustain the momentum of deliverables throughout the year.
Overall, when answering the question ‘how to integrate agile marketing into my Q1 planning?’, the main answer is to plan. However, beyond just preparing for the expected results, ensure you are leaving some time available for reactive techniques, be it newsjacking, ad hoc requests, or sudden macroenvironmental changes. This, combined with the accountability of your team, can ensure that regardless of the situation, you and your peers can determine the best course of action.
2. Schedule in time for reactivity
Scheduling time for reactivity in a marketing campaign can seem counterintuitive but is incredibly useful for several reasons. First, it allows you to respond to any unexpected events or developments that may arise during the campaign. For example, suppose a sudden change in the market or your industry or a social media post goes viral. In that case, you may need to adjust your marketing strategy to address the situation. Setting aside time to be reactive ensures you have the time to respond quickly and effectively to any unexpected developments.
Furthermore, scheduling time for reactivity can help you stay agile and flexible in your marketing efforts. By leaving some room for flexibility in your marketing campaign, you can more easily adapt to changes in consumer behaviour or other market conditions. This can help you stay ahead of the competition and serve your target audience better.
3. Make more use of keyword searching
Many marketers know that keyword searches in marketing campaigns can be a powerful tool to attract and engage your target audience. Yet, many neglect to do this as a continuous process. By understanding the terms and phrases your potential customers use to search for products or services, you can optimise your marketing materials and online presence with relevant keywords. This can make it easier for your target audience to find your business and increase their chances of engaging with your content.
Additionally, incorporating targeted keywords into your website and other online assets can help improve your search engine rankings and make it easier for potential customers to discover your business online. Finally, using keyword searches in your marketing campaigns can help you reach and attract more qualified leads, ultimately leading to increased traffic, engagement, and conversions for your business.
2023 will be the year to stay agile
In conclusion, agile marketing is a valuable approach for organisations to consider in their marketing strategies, as it allows for a balance between proactive and reactive techniques. Agile marketing involves:
- Continuously collaborating with stakeholders and cycling through a process of planning.
- Executing and evaluating.
- Focusing on continuous improvement at every stage.
To effectively implement agile marketing into a Q1 PR plan, creating a content calendar, understanding the target audience and their needs, allocating resources for both proactive and reactive strategies, and establishing accountability for all team members are crucial. By following these steps, organisations can effectively incorporate agile marketing into their marketing efforts and achieve their goals for 2023.
Want some more tips on refreshing your perspective, at the start of a new strategy, new quarter, or new year? Read our guide to S.M.A.R.T resolutions, and pair the pointers with some of the approaches we’ve shared in this roundup.