Missing the mark? Think solutions, not excuses

By Matter

This morning a group of us met with our client for a quarterly planning meeting. Four times a year, we get together and sit at a table to recap recent successes, challenges and plans for the next three months. It’s an efficient process and one that keeps us focused on what we need to achieve to get to where we want to be at the end of the year. (It’s also nice to get some extra face time with our client, since they’re a great group of people and we always look forward to seeing them in person.)

From time to time though, when we’re presenting progress against metrics, we need to address an area where we’re falling short. Most of the time these meetings give all of us an opportunity to celebrate a job well done and talk excitedly about how we’re going to maintain the momentum. But for a variety of reasons, every now and then there’s something that just isn’t exactly where we would like it to be. Shifting priorities, stalled approvals, a change in the competitive landscape…it happens to all of us: no matter how kick-ass our results are across the board, we are occasionally faced with challenges that keep us from achieving something we set as an objective. When that happens, though, we don’t sweat and get nervous. We don’t dread going in for that quarterly meeting. And we certainly don’t spend time thinking up excuses or ways to defend ourselves.

We sit down and honestly answer the question: what are we going to do to fix this?

In PR, and I suspect in most industries, on any given day there are an infinite number of variables that can cause plans and expectations to change dramatically. Instead of letting those things derail and unnerve us, we have to remain focused on end-results and really, truly come up with a plan of attack that helps us move past a specific issue and move towards our overall goal. Some of our best and most valuable meetings with clients happen when things aren’t going exactly as planned with a program. Our clients know we aren’t going to waste anyone’s time by fumbling around trying to justify why a metric wasn’t met, or a plan wasn’t executed. Instead, they know we’re walking into that meeting with some solid recommendations on how we’re going to make sure we meet the metric next time, or why our strategy might need updating. They count on us because we’re able to adapt quickly, come up with a new game plan and put it into action right away.

At the end of the day, clients need to know they can trust their PR partners to be honest and thoughtful, and level with them about what’s working and what isn’t. Excuses don’t work. Fresh ideas do. So if something isn’t working, ask yourself why and what you can do to fix it. And then fix it.