Strategies, Goals, Objectives…Oh My!

By Posted in - APR & Marketing & Professional Development & Public Relations on January 22nd, 2014

Have you ever been writing a PR plan and found yourself questioning whether something was an objective or a strategy? I know I have.  It can be easy to get confused, but when I was studying for the APR a few years ago, I found some helpful guidelines from the PRSA APR Study Guide as follows:


Keep these few in number. Identify no more than three to five. One may be enough.

Be consistent with management goals and mission.

Think in terms of end results, not process alone.


Think in terms of the awareness, attitude or action you desire—not the process but the end result.

Articulate with verbs that reflect changes in awareness, attitude, or behavior: Recognize, acknowledge, know (awareness); favor, accept, oppose, believe (attitude); and purchase, participate, endorse, discard, write, visit (behavior).

Phrase objectives in terms of specific results you desire, and what you think is possible.

Each objective should cite an audience, outcome, attainment level (%) and time frame. (Example: At 
the end of six months, 65 percent of employees will be in a car pool or ride-share program.)

The same objective may fit a number of audiences but strategies may need to be different.


The military definition is the science and art of employing political, economic, psychological and military forces to support policies or achieve goals; to meet the enemy under advantageous conditions.

In planning, how will you approach the challenge of working toward your objectives? On what can you build or take advantage in your situation? What devices will you employ?

Your strategy may describe the diplomacy, psychology, philosophy, themes and appeals you will use, or the message you will convey.

It may describe how you will work with community groups.

You probably will have several strategies for an objective.

Some strategies may serve several objectives.

Vehicles or channels you will use to communicate can appear here, or in tactics or activities.

Examples include media relations, third-party endorsement and public engagement.


How will you use your resources to carry out your strategy and work toward objectives?

You can have several tactics per strategy.

These serve as specific elements of a strategy or specific tools, more specifically “how to.”

Examples include meetings, publications, tie-ins, community events, news releases, etc.


Here is another great post that tackles The Difference Between Strategies and Tactics. Hope you found these tips to be helpful…if so, print them out and use as a quick reference next time you are working on a PR plan!



(1) awesome comment(s)...

  • Samantha Halle - Reply

    January 30, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Thanks for sharing in such a clear way! Countless PR courses try to impress these differences upon students, but the distinctions can get lost in verbose, textbook-type definitions. An interesting distinction between strategies and tactics that has stuck with me is that a strategy tends to have a longer, more timeless shelf-life; whereas, a tactic for strategy execution depends on the changing tools and technologies that you have access to at a given time.

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