Public relations professionals know this reality all too well – feeling responsible for the success or failure of a campaign. Whether we are in an agency or on the client side, whether we are part of the pharmaceutical or financial industry, whether we are managing a corporate communications file or we are putting together a product launch campaign, we are responsible for the results.
We inherit projects that already have defined objectives and specific expectations. That is the beauty (and complexity) of communication professionals’ work: we constantly have to defy the status quo with innovative ideas, maximizing them through the appropriate channels, while making sure that the key messages are impactful and delivered cohesively.
With that being said, there are three fundamental notions to define regarding the proper way to address an issue before starting any sort of creative brainstorming. More specifically, these three notions are the quality, the time and the resources allocated to the project at hand. This is commonly known as the pyramid of success.
What are the three poles of this pyramid?
QUALITY: is at the top of the pyramid.
- Function : the message to convey in order to capture the attention of our target audience
RESOURCES: represent the investments, while considering the break-even point.
- Human and material resources available
TIME: it is important to consider all the steps; from the beginning of planning until the execution.
- Timing: the right time to launch the campaign without “killing the story”
- Urgency (we all constantly hear the words “rush” and “deadline”)
Now that we have defined the three fundamental notions, and we know that they are interdependent to assure balance in the mandate, let’s evaluate the pyramid’s operation and limits.
Limits of the pyramid and concessions to make
Demonstrating ingenuity and developing solutions that are outside the box is THE leitmotiv of every communication professional and their clients. However, there are limits that exist if we want to maintain a certain level of quality to achieve our goals, which is the pole at the top of the pyramid. These limits need to be understood and clarified from the start of the mandate in order to guide our thought process.
There are three possible situations. When a pole decreases, another needs to increase in order to maintain the pyramid’s balance.
- To maintain the same level of QUALITY, but with a shorter deadline (↓TIME) : it will be necessary to invest more in your RESOURCES (↑)
- To maintain the same level of QUALITY, but with limited RESOURCES (↓) : it will be necessary to extend the deadline (↑TIME) to ensure that the project is properly planned and executed
If two poles decrease, naturally, the third will suffer because the pyramid becomes imbalanced.
- If your RESOURCES are limited (↓), and your delivery TIME is shortened (↓), inevitably, you will have to manage expectations in terms of execution (QUALITY ↓)
It should be noted that it is impossible to have a balanced pyramid if two poles lose too much significance. If the last pole becomes too important, the pyramid might collapse. Indeed, the project will not be managed thoroughly and precisely because it will need too many shortcuts to compensate for these weaknesses.
So, what should be done?
For the decision-makers
If the project progresses slowly (TIME ↑) with regards to operations, the decision-maker should not invest in additional resources (whether they are human, material or financial) to try to increase the quality pole (which will end up remaining the same).
Rather, it is important for the decision-maker to revise the allocation of resources according to the break-even point so that the pyramid’s balance can be maintained.
For the project managers
If the work can be done quickly, without the allocation of a reasonable budget, the work will inevitably be of a lower quality.
The opposite is a myth. If certain decision-makers are limited in terms of TIME and RESOURCES without wanting to make concessions in the QUALITY pole, this means that they do not understand the real nature of the project. They have to go back to the beginning and review the purpose (the center of the pyramid).
Questions to ask yourself as a decision-maker or a project manager
- What is our desirable level of QUALITY (how do we measure the success of the issue and how do we wish to achieve it: by positioning ourselves as pioneers and forward-thinkers or by monitoring what is said and responding to it with a reactive approach? Etc.)
- What should we do to elevate the TIME pole (how can we better anticipate, better prioritize? Etc.)
- What should we do to make the available RESOURCES profitable (do we have all the information needed to get the job done, do we have a team with the right skills for the strategy in place, is the allocated budget adequately split and does it allow us to achieve our goal?)
Do you need help to analyze the three poles – and limits – of your project? Contact our team of professionals to plan what has to be done so you can efficiently meet your business goals!