Elevate From Tactical Thinker to Strategist
Written By: Meg Cotiguala
As you grow in your career, naturally you should take on more and more responsibilities. This new workload will likely feature tasks that are quite tangible – managing people or interfacing with clients more frequently – and those that are a bit more subconscious – for example, the need to elevate your thinking from tactics to strategy.
What do I mean by this? As a “doer” in the PR world, you are given tasks that don’t necessarily require a lot of consideration, such as monitoring for news stories. A “strategist” on the other hand, must be able to monitor news and think critically about what that news means. She must then create news that drives the right messaging to the right audiences, and, ultimately, contributes to the overall success and impact of the PR program.
Thinking as a strategist doesn’t always come naturally with a step up in your career; however, it takes time, and is a conscious effort. As I have grown in my career, here are two things I’ve learned to elevate strategic thinking:
- Be a sponge – managers, account directors and others in senior roles are in those positions for a reason – they have developed the ability to think and act strategically. Use that to your advantage by learning everything you can from them. Pay attention – and ask questions! Learn how these people practice strategic thinking and implement suggestions that will work for you. Use the lessons others have learned to cultivate your own ability to think for yourself.
- Think like the client – all of our clients have their own goals and agendas, and it’s imperative that you align your thinking to support their priorities. Without shared thinking, and therefore alignment on strategic objectives, your PR activities may not contribute to the overall program goals. Shared alignment; however, does not mean order taker. As professionals in a PR agency, our clients pay us to be advisers. We aren’t fulfilling that role, if we agree to activity without first thinking through things strategically. The trick is to know how to strike a balance between delivering what the client wants and ensuring that activity will lead to optimal result.
Consistently thinking strategically is important and beneficial for multiple reasons. It’s important for your own professional growth, as it pushes you to constantly strive to do better, and it proves your value to clients and supervisors. It’s beneficial as it helps to strengthen relationships with clients, sets an example for those around you and helps you to become a leader.
Seeing the bigger picture is a learned skill. Thinking like a client and being a sponge of ideas and information will help you to see that picture and enable you to grow into an effective PR strategist.