The planning grid is a tool used in developing strategy. It is
also a systematic approach to developing strategic messages. This
is what a planning grid looks like:
How to complete a planning grid:
- Identify a goal -- just one goal -- you wish to achieve on behalf of your client.
A goal is a statement of the outcome your client hopes to
achieve. Think of it as a destination. It is not the
strategy or the tactics used in reaching that destination. If you have
more than one goal to address, complete separate grids for each goal.
- Identify the publics you consider most critical in meeting the client’s goal.
In any given scenario, there could be dozens of stakeholders. Remember:
You represent the management of your client organization. Do not
target yourself or the managers/executives of the organization you
represent - you are communicating on their behalf. List each in a
separate box in the column under the heading “Public.”
- Identify each public's single-most compelling stake as it relates to your client’s goals.
Stake is defined as a statement of each public’s
self-interests. In any given scenario, there could be
multiple statements of self-interest. However, for the purposes
of clarity, only one statement per public is required. Pick the
stake that best serves the needs of the client and public -- creating a
"win-win" situation. For purposes of clarity, it is recommended
that this be stated in a complete sentence. It should be listed
in the column titled “Stake” in rows assigned to an
appropriate public. It is understood that some statements of
self-interest are appropriate for more than one public.
- Identify the messages that you want to deliver to the targeted publics.
These messages are both positioning statements and a call to
action. They are designed to motivate specific publics to take a
desired action. They should take into account both the client’s
goals and the audience’s self-interests (stake).
- With primary publics, the message should use parallel language linking the stake and goal.
Typically, its construction is along these lines: “I want
this public to take an action that will advance my goal because it also
advances that public’s stake.” Example: KU wants an
increase in state funding. It is targeting the legislature.
It has defined the legislature’s stake as: “Legislators
want to be seen spending state tax dollars wisely.” So, the
message from KU to legislators is: “Increase KU’s budget so
you will be seen wisely spending taxpayer dollars.”
- With intervening publics, remember that the goal has changed.
By definition, primary publics are the only people who are
decision-makers who decide whether you can achieve your goal. By
definition, intervening publics seek to influence the primary
publics. Therefore, the construction of the message is typically
along these lines: "Influence (primary public) to take an action that
will advance my goal because it advances your stake." Even with this
modified goal, you should still use the same language used in the
stake. Example: KU wants an increase in state funding. It is
targeting students as an intervening audience that can influence the
legislature. Students want to keep down the cost of
tuition. Therefore, the message is: "Write legislators in support
of increased funding at KU because it will help keep down the cost of
Identify the media appropriate for communicating with the targeted publics.
Identify the channels of communications you feel are best for reaching
these publics. In any given scenario, there may be multiple
channels appropriate for reaching a given public. Your choice of
medium should be listed in the column titled “Media” in
rows assigned to an appropriate public. It is understood that some
media are appropriate for more than one public.
Determine the timetable for delivering your messages using the media you have selected.
Determine how you will monitor the progress of your plan. This is the evaluation phase of the public relations process.
Determine the budget for the actions you have proposed. Reflect the unit cost, the quantity and the total cost.
- Choose a message that most explicity addresses the goal and the public's self interest.
For purposes of clarity, it is recommended that this be stated in a
complete sentence. It should be listed in the column titled
“Messages” in rows assigned to an appropriate public.
It is understood that some message statements are appropriate for more
than one public.
Updated August 8, 2012
Copyright 2010 - David Warner Guth