Setting SMART Objectives

As a junior in college, the daunting and ominous “real world” is quickly approaching.  I am in a state of limbo balancing between being an uncertain, yet driven college kid and becoming a full-fledged working adult. There are so many possibilities and opportunities it is easy to get overwhelmed and distracted. As with any intimidating and stressful situation, I’m learning that if I approach it one step at a time, one objective at a time, I’ll reach my ultimate goal.

Last September, I began working at Allen Hall Public Relations as an account executive for Kevin Renner, an author based out of Portland. Renner is best known for his novel, In Search of Fatherhood, in which he shares his knowledge and expertise on father-daughter relationships. My team and I began our partnership with Renner by doing something all public relations professionals do, establishing a long-term goal. Renner’s is to increase the overall sales of his book through different outreach opportunities and publicity campaigns.

While goals are broad and they direct an overall effort, I understand that choosing clear objectives will help achieve that goal in defined and measurable terms. Even more so, I have found that setting realistic objectives helps PR pros keep a results-oriented mindset and remained aimed towards success. They keep you rooted in the mission of the client or organization.

Accordingly, my team and I then developed objectives focused on fulfilling our goal. We used the SMART guidelines. So, how do you set SMART objectives? When brainstorming, think about the five characteristics of great objectives:

S – Specific: Address the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why). Identify and answer each of these aspects and clearly specify them. Specific objectives are accomplished more often than broad, vague ones.

M – Measurable: You need to be able to measure your progress in terms of quantity and quality. This way, you can easily assess and measure numeric values, so ensure your objectives contain them.

A – Attainable: Your objectives should to be challenging, yet still realistic. Identify your known limits of success and create your objectives to push those limits a bit further.

R – Relevant: A relevant objective answers the questions, “why should this be done?” and “what impact will it have?”

T – Timely: Objectives need a definitive time frame. Set a date for completion, as well as progressive steps along the way.

As we are reaching the halfway point of the academic year, my team has revisited our goal and objectives to assure they remain aligned. I believe that applying these principles in creating our objectives has set us on the path to success, for our client and for ourselves, as aspiring PR professionals. Now I challenge you, have you set up SMART objectives personally and professionally? Tell us in the comments below.

Lauren Holton is a junior at the University of Oregon studying public relations, advertising and applied communication. Follow her on Twitter here

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