Have you ever worked with a client that is constantly running around like a chicken with its head cut off? I have.

Last year, Pushkin PR helped the world famous Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita, Colorado garner local and national media attention for this annual celebration of an actual headless chicken who became an international celebrity after he lost his head. It seems his farmer cut off Mike's head to prepare him for dinner. When he saw Mike shake it off like nothing happened, he kept Mike alive for years by feeding him through a straw and Mike toured the country as a famous sideshow. True story.

The truth is that economic pressure can often make any client feel urgency to see instant results. They feel pressured, so they try so many things all at once that nothing ends up working. Like a chicken without a head, they end up just running into walls.

Our job as communicators is to get them to calm down. There is a tendency for us to try so hard to please our clients that we allow them to dictate tactics over strategy and to decide too soon if a particular tactic is working or not. Our job is not to make them happy. It is to make them successful. And the way to do that is to be patient and strategic in our approach.

This strategic approach generally includes four steps:

Identify the problem and what you want to accomplish. A communications review can provide a picture of where you are today and where you would like to be in 12 months. What problem do you need to solve? What is working and what isn't?

Develop a communications plan that starts with your objectives, then determine what strategies you will use to meet your objectives and the tactics you will use to support your strategies.

Stick to the plan. Give it enough time to tell if it is working or if you need to make adjustments. Try not to get sidetracked. Make sure not to lose your head and end up bouncing around from wall to wall.

Give your plan enough time. Only then can you evaluate whether you met or exceeded your objectives, and if not, what you could do better next time.

Our clients depend on us to steer them in the right direction, not to let ourselves be steered off course by their fears and anxiety. Our job is to not lose our own heads when we see our clients running around without theirs. Like Mike the Headless Chicken, just feed them through a straw and send them back on their way.

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