Thursday, December 3, 2009

On a Mission...

What is your mission statement?
That simple question is the very first I ask of clients and prospects. Because, from that answer springs all PR, marketing (and, ultimately) sales strategies. And yet, so many small businesses reply to that question with one (or a mix) of three responses:

1.) An uncomfortable squirm
2.) A lengthy monologue starting somewhere around "well, when I was 12..."
3.) A quick: "to sell my stuff"

We understand that business owners are not necessarily writers (and we work with clients to help clarify that message), but if they can't succinctly describe who they are, what they do and why, then how can clients relate to them? More: how can the business, or its PR agency, craft a message that the media and public will understand?

Many business consultants recommend that mission statements be no more than a paragraph. I, on the other hand, take that further: you should be able to summarize it in a sentence (2 at the most). It should describe what you do, why you do it and how you do it... without getting into nitty gritty details. This isn't easy... even for professional writers (as my old journalism school professors said so correctly: it's a whole lot easier to write long than to write short), but it is a necessity. From your mission statement springs your brand and image... including tagline, creative materials, PR message, marketing initiatives and advertising plans. While every business owner knows this in theory, many small creative firms find it difficult to execute.

As an example/case study, I'll use Miamore Communications. At Miamore, our mission is:
To utilize the press, social networking tools and promotions to introduce, inform and educate the public about goods and services provided by small businesses in the luxury lifestyle category, thereby assisting those firms in reaching sales goals and growth.

From that mission comes:

  • Our tagline: "spreading the word about life's finer things"
  • Our various services: public relations, social media marketing, brand development, creative services and special event planning.
  • Our marketing focus: small businesses in the luxury and lifestyle categories
  • Our media targets: editors and bloggers in lifestyle beats
  • Our social media outreach for ourselves: groups, fans and followers in the above areas
  • Our social media outreach for our clients: consumers who dialogue about upscale and lifestyle goods and services.

If we were to say our mission is "to sell PR services", everything else would be similarly vague and ineffective... who would be our target client? Our target press contacts? We would be aiming our efforts in a million directions and spreading ourselves thin on all.

So, as you look forward to 2010 and business plans for the year, please take a look at your mission statement (or develop a succinct one). Once you have that down, you'll be surprised how much simpler everything else will come.

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