Laura Petrolino

Technique Matters for Communications Strategy Success

By: Laura Petrolino | January 11, 2016 | 
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Technique Matter for Communications Strategy SuccessBy Laura Petrolino

I’m currently pretty deep into what’s called “improvement season” for bodybuilding. For me, this is a time my workouts focus more on the powerlifting side of things, which means almost all workouts are focused on the three major lifts—bench, deadlift (my favorite), and squat.

If you want to compare this to a communications strategy (which…surprise, surprise…we are!) my objectives would be things such as: Muscle fiber recruitment, speed, power, and technique improvement, but my overall goal of this time period is very simply to lift heavier things.

Lifting heavier things takes work and strategy. Just like a successful communications strategy, it requires a plan that has tactics aimed at achieving my focus objectives. This plan includes my workout design, nutrition, and recovery.

And then there’s execution. Because without consistent and effective execution, the best laid plans are useless. 

When Success Doesn’t Follow the Intended Course

Measurement is a fundamental part of any successful communications strategy. Actually—scratch that—measurement that matters with the right PR metrics is a fundamental part of any successful communications strategy.

The same holds true for powerlifting.

So, while I can measure things such as reps or the number of people who give me compliments when I lift heavy things (this might be the communications equivalent to media impressions or social media likes), what really matters are metrics such as volume lifted and total weight moved.

Because, while it’s nice to be idolized for being a goddess of iron (ok…no one has ever said that, but should any of you like to refer to me that way, I won’t stop you), it doesn’t really help me get closer to any of my goals (other than those of my ego).

So when I look at the metrics, and they don’t show progress (even though I’m executing the plan as laid out), that’s tells me there is something that needs to be readjusted or changed.

Success Through Details

Now of course, the flaw could be in the plan itself. You could have a communications strategy that just doesn’t hit the mark. I could have a workout design or nutrition strategy not conducive to my goals. And that’s a discussion for another blog.

Today we focus on the details of execution because when things don’t measure up, that’s where you should look first. Don’t replant the field when you haven’t already picked the low-hanging fruit (#farmerwisdomfromLaura).

In powerlifting the single biggest execution roadblock is technique. The same often holds true when it comes to your communication strategy.

Technique Matters in Your Communications Strategy Execution

Technique is the mac daddy of all execution and will make a huge difference on your success. This includes things such as form, timing, and bar path.

The smallest technique tweak can radically change the way you lift and the amount of weight you can move.

I video all my major lifts almost daily to make sure form isn’t getting sloppy or I’m not developing any bad habits that might hinder my progress. I’m also lucky to have other people (people much more experienced and knowledgable than I) around who can watch what I do and provide advice on tweaks I might want to make.

Technique is also one of the most common execution obstacle when it comes to successfully implementing a communications strategy.

Things to ask when evaluating strategy execution technique:

  • Does everyone involved in execution understand our objectives and goals?
  • Do we have a voice document so communication is always consistent?
  • Are we paying attention to details when it comes to who, what, when, where, why, and how we execute?
  • Is there quality control? And if there isn’t, how can we implement a process to ensure consistent quality?
  • Are tasks being executed fully? (This might be as detailed as not having a complete distribution plan when creating and distributing content, it might be not following up on leads collected, it might be not responding to comments on social or your blog, or a variety of other tasks not maximized due to lack of follow-through or preparation.)
  • Is our timeline correct?
  • Are we making it easy? (For media to reach and cover you, for prospects to engage with you, for influencers to get to know you, for the community to interact with you?)

To evaluate these things, you need to play the role of an external viewer, just as video allows me to see myself in a way I can’t while executing. Use your metrics to clue you into both what’s working and what’s not (or working as well as it should) and troubleshoot technique from there.

It’s often helpful to have a checklist to force yourself to examine all technique details and cut down on the curse of knowledge which might cause you to overlook—or simply look away—from a technique tweak that needs to happen.

Cultivating objectivity and a “consumer frame of mind” is perhaps one of the most difficult skills communications pros must develop. I like to think of myself as a method actor and look at things from the consumer standpoint. Then I take those findings and take another look—this time as if I was an outside expert consultant.

Implement Change in Communications Strategy Execution

Change is hard. Once you discover where technique fails might be in your communications strategy you must devise a plan to implement adjustments.

When I adjust my technique on a lift, I make a checklist to run through mentally when setting up for it.

  • Are my feet aligned properly?
  • How is my weight distributed?
  • What cues do I want to use to know when I need to adjust alignment?
  • What is my breathing pattern?

And so on.

The same should be done for all team members who execute the communications strategy. This gives them a clear and actionable plan for change implementation vs. a somewhen ambiguous command or high level theory.

What other technique details do you find prevents communication strategy success?

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.