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Have Your Cake and Eat it too, but Don’t Forget to Plan First

Recently I’ve taken up a new hobby – cake decorating.  I know, I know, you’re wondering what cake decorating has to do with public relations.  I’ve been wondering the same thing for the past few days.  So, before you start thinking, “Where the heck is Amanda going with this crazy blog post?” hear me out.

For me, cake decorating is a creative outlet.  It’s a nice way to be artistic.  And, hey, having cake around to eat isn’t all that bad.  As I was sitting in my class last week making white and yellow daisies (out of delicious frosting, I might add), I got to thinking more about public relations and cakes, and I realized the two have more in common than you might think.  That’s because much like public relations, the thing that makes a really great cake – whether it’s simple or intricate – is having a plan.

I’ve seen firsthand how a plan can change the decorating process and how even a quick sketch can make the final product ten times better.  I’ve also seen how a plan affects public relations, especially a plan based in strategy.  Without strategy, a PR plan will fall apart at the seams.  It will be full of holes and provide results that, if you’re lucky, may seem OK, but will not offer any true value.  You wouldn’t frost a cake that was still hot, right?  The frosting would melt and ruin the cake.  The same logic is why you should never jump into creating a new Web site, joining a social network or launching a campaign on behalf of a client without a strategic plan – you would be taking your first step toward failure.  Relying on strategy in public relations leads to a plan that not only looks good on paper, but that is based on research, considers relevant issues and has a clear path to make the client’s goals a reality.

In cake decorating, it’s the base of the cake that makes it possible for beautiful masterpieces to come alive.  The frosted layers are the foundation for striking additions like flowers, cornelli lace and latticework.  Additions that look nice on their own, but when placed together with the right colors and alignment can turn a cake into something right out of a bakery.  In public relations, the plan gives way to tactics such as engaging in social media Web sites like Twitter and Facebook, pitching relevant media contacts and organizing events that may be effective alone, but together offer ways to reach out to and capture target audiences.  This, I’ve realized truly is the goal of good public relations – engaging consumers in conversation, educating them on key points and inviting them to get involved with a company or organization – hopefully helping people understand the value of a client’s product, service or message along the way.

Having a plan doesn’t guarantee an award-winning campaign, so you should definitely expect to make some tweaks along the way.  But one thing is for sure, starting off strong, whether with a strategy based plan or a well-followed recipe, makes the road to success a little bit smoother.

Just don’t forget to have some cake along the way.

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