Is it time to rethink the R.A.C.E. model?
When developing social media strategies for our clients at Thornley Fallis, we always highlight the importance of social media as a listening tool. Social media are tools that provide an opportunity to receive feedback about products, promotions, pricing and campaigns in real time and it also provides an opportunity for organizations to intervene in a crisis.
Recently, Diane Begin and I had the opportunity to submit a practical paper to the Journal of Professional Communications on this topic. What began as a discussion about the importance of social media strategies for organizations lead us to ask the question: “Is it time to rethink the R.A.C.E model?”
What is the R.A.C.E. model?
The R.A.C.E. model is a four step process for communications planning proposed by John Marston in 1963. There are a few variations of the model, but it is essentially a linear process involving Research, Analysis, Communication and Evaluation.
Why should we revisit the R.A.C.E. model?
Rather than a linear model, we propose and agile and iterative approach to communications planning. It is our belief that an organization’s digital strategy should always remain in beta. Social media have changed the way that people communicate with each other and they provide opportunity for companies to gather feedback in real time. Communications programs should allow for these conversations to be considered and evaluated. Changes can then be implemented where and when it is appropriate.
Social media and crisis communications
Social media strategies are especially important to an organization in crisis. Taking an iterative approach to communications planning will allow organizations to constantly listen for mentions of their brand–and other topics of importance–online and make amendments to an approach, an advertising spend, a media relations pitch, etc. in real time. For organizations in crisis, listening on social media can provide an early warning signal that something has gone wrong and provide an opportunity for to intervene and respond at a much earlier stage. Having an exact understanding of the public’s concern in a crisis can allow an organization to more effectively respond.
We provide case studies, examples and a template for implementing this type of communications planning in our paper. Does your organization take a linear or iterative approach to communications planning? What do you think about our approach?
You can download a copy of our paper from The Journal of Professional Communications here. Please leave us a comment below with your thoughts. You can also read Diane’s thoughts on why we should revisit the R.A.C.E. model on her personal blog here.
Bégin, Diane and Charbonneau, Katie (2012) “Rethinking the R.A.C.E. model for a social media world,” Journal of Professional Communication: Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 9.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/jpc/vol2/iss2/9