October 11, 2012 / by Frank Strong

What is the difference between goals and objectives?  The issue causes nearly as much confusion in PR circles as the difference between strategy and tactics.

Ritu Raj, the founder of Objectiveli, a software product for managing goals and objectives, breaks it down this Business 2 Community blog post:

“Goals are broader than objectives,” Raj writes. “They are based on ideas and do not have a thorough set of plans attached to them.”

“Objectives are much more in depth than goals. They are like a set of blueprints to achieve our goals. Objectives are narrow and identify the tasks needed to achieve them.”

This distinction is critical in understanding the results of PR campaigns (even the under-recognized PR benefits).

Going to PRSA? Don’t miss Frank’s session on the biggest new trends in PR – click here for details!

The goal is a destination – an end point – while objectives are steps towards competing that goal. Google’s Analytics Advocate Justin Cutroni put it nicely at the PR News Social Media Measurement Conference (round-up article)when he talked about “microconversions” as little indicators of interest along the PR measurement cycle.

Brad McCormick of Austin’s 10 Louder Strategies had the unenviable job of kicking off that conference and setting the stage for discussion.   He used a football analogy to illustrate the difference between goals and objectives.

He painted a picture of the offensive and defensive units of the same football team: both sides working towards the same goal – winning the game – but with very different objectives along the way.  The offense’s objective is to score points; the defense’s objective is to prevent points.  Different routes to the same goal.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that, well beyond a decade later, I can still hear my college football coach saying, “Defense wins championships.”   Does it win in PR?

Brad’s presentation below is well worth reviewing and is available on SlideShare.



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