The beginning of the end: why planning for the finish line matters

By
NUALA RYAN


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Every great adventure has a beginning, a middle, and an end—but in the world of communications, it’s easy to lose sight of the closing chapter.

The beginning is where the magic happens. We pat ourselves on the back for getting things “off the ground”, for “kicking off”, for “launching”.

When we reach the halfway point, we start to think about what comes next—how can we extend or enhance our current activity or campaign? How can we use it as a platform to build or create our next project?

What many of us are afraid to do is think about the end of an activity and what it means for a process, to a project, or for a relationship. We don’t pause to consider why this natural end is important or how we can use it as an opportunity to plan and learn. This needs to change.

What does success look like to you?

Thinking about the end provides focus, clarity and, importantly, purpose. It challenges us to really consider our objectives and goals and take the necessary action to ensure we meet them. The end is the ultimate measure of success.

For example, at the start of every process, we ask our clients and colleagues to describe what success looks like to them. In doing so, we are in effect asking them to imagine the future, to picture the ending. If they can see success, then they can also start to visualise what needs to happen to achieve it.

Thinking about the end means that we are always future focused. In making it a key part of the overall process, it provides a focal point that would otherwise disappear in a flurry of being in the present—of being reactive or proactive rather than strategic.

While this all sounds great in theory, in practice, we must take this sentiment and ambition and ground it in a robust strategy. Using the end as the starting point, we work back to map out the necessary actions and tactical implementation plan that will enable us to realise this ambition. It is recognising what needs to happen in the present to ensure success in the future.  

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Imagine the end

Every morning I wake up and tell myself that I need to be bold and brave in the decisions and judgements that I make that day.

I then think about the day ahead; I imagine how a multitude of different scenarios might play out so I can reach the optimum outcome. I am cognisant of the past and informed by the present, but ultimately driven by the end result.

I visualise the positive meetings with agency partners and clients. I feel the shared team elation following a successful experiential event or media relations campaign. I see us winning the pitch.

I can visualise this so clearly because I know we are working collectively towards a shared goal and vision. I am confident that we have played out all the potential scenarios, that we have considered all the eventualities, and we know what success looks like. And because we are focused on the endgame and armed with a clear strategic direction and creative execution plan, what we have set out is entirely achievable and will see us through to the end.

So, the next time you’re starting out on a new project, imagine it’s three, six or twelve months from now. You’re happy. Why?

Holding on to that feeling, think of all the people who need to be involved to help you realise that ambition, all the specific work that needs to happen, and the milestones that need to be met. Now remember again that wonderful feeling of accomplishment and success. Congratulations: you have made it to the end.  


NUALA RYAN

Nuala Ryan is Client Director at PR360, specialising in brand strategy and communications. Nuala helps clients find their distinctive voice and turn their narrative into a creative concept, strategic approach and engaging execution. Wherever there is strong coffee and good company, you’ll find her.