Creative minds have a rapid-fire stream of ideas, and it’s not until you layer strategy on top of that explosiveness, that PR magic can take flight. A theme that has come up repeatedly this summer in our campaigns is the importance of focus. When you’re busy launching a new concept or campaign, it’s easy to get carried away with ideas that are all over the map. Whether the idea is related to marketing, advertising, PR, social, etc., it’s often hard to let go once that idea is on the table.
One tactic I have introduced to several clients this year is the idea of the “parking lot.” Basically, it’s a place to log, inventory, and save great ideas for later. It gives everyone comfort, because the idea isn’t dead due to a lack of resources or time. It’s simply “on deck.” Sounds promising, right? I love the parking lot for several reasons, but mostly, it’s a great way to get consensus about priorities in an organized and trackable way. What business doesn’t have a wish list of ideas?
We used this strategy with great success in launching You Are Musical, a new early childhood music education provider (teaching adults too). We had a finite amount of time to create a toolbox rich with collateral, social media, and ultimately, a website. There were tons of ideas, an unlimited number, in a variety of areas. If marketing is referred to as an umbrella at times, we had a superdome. As exciting as many of the concepts were, we forced ourselves to stay laser focused to get the most important pieces accomplished first. At the same time, we were able to build a “parking lot” list that can add new momentum as time goes on.
I’ve also seen this concept at work with great success at our PRConsultants Group conference. Can you imagine how many ideas bubble at our nationwide group of PR pro’s, assembled annually to learn, network, and brainstorm? The excitement for collaboration is measurable, and the topics to discuss on our agenda far exceed our few days together. We’ve used the Parking Lot there to keep the pace moving along and to log important topics for future discussion.
Forbes published a great article related to the importance of staying on track: 6 Ways That Lack of Focus Can Kill Your Business. The writer, Martin Zwilling, aptly noted, “Focus is the art of limiting your scope to the key function that really matters for the majority of customers.” Plus, he makes a great point that “your personal bandwidth is quickly exceeded” when you’re all over the board. He explains, “When your solution has too many elements, even you can’t keep the priorities straight, and your team gets frustrated, tired, loses motivation, and tends to not do anything well. As a new entrepreneur in a new startup, it’s better to walk before you try to run.”
I couldn’t agree more. It’s always better to do a few things well, than many things poorly. When you overload a campaign, you’re bound to dilute the messages and overwhelm the audience. Focus is key, and methodically storing great ideas for later in your “Parking Lot” is a great way to maintain that focus now and in the future.
By Amy Kossoff Smith, Founder, Write Ideas, Inc.