Explainer: S.M.A.R.T. Goals

A graphic of question marks provides the background art for our PRNEWS Explainer series which today asks what is an audience?

[Editor’s Note: Even experienced PR professionals need a refresher on the basics periodically, as well as insight about newer concepts. Whether it’s how to become a better writer or a review of PR ethics, we aim to provide you with content about a variety of topics and issues. Hence, our Explainer series.]

Previous posts looked at: the Barcelona Principles, the Metaverse, off the record and sonic branding. Today we review S.M.A.R.T. Goals.]

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

The S.M.A.R.T. Goal philosophy debuted in the Nov. 1981 issue of Management Review. George Doran, a consultant and former director of planning for the Washington Water Power Company, published an article titled “There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives."

S.M.A.R.T. goals provide criteria for efficient goal-setting and evaluating results. There are applications in various practices and industries, including communication and project management.  

S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

Specific:  target a specific area for improvement

Measurable: quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress

Assignable: specify who will do it

Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources

Time-Related: specify when the result(s) can be achieved

Why it Matters to Communicators 

Although most communicators have likely created 2023 plans for those they represent, the S.M.A.R.T. system can be used anytime you draft a plan. The steps can make planning more efficient, especially if multiple team members or departments are involved. S.M.A.R.T. also is used in crisis situations—particularly when a group of people needs to be organized quickly to shape results. 

In addition, the S.M.A.R.T. philosophy can be applied to personal and career goals, something many professionals have done or look to do at various points during the year. 

More resources for goal setting and strategy:

Nicole Schuman is senior editor for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal