By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven®

In the modern world of public relations, there are so many deliverables that need to get done or edited or promoted. “Things” are everywhere. So are tasks, daily activities that can easily take hours on end. But the best PR professionals don’t get sidetracked by tasks and things. They “start with why,” to quote author Simon Sinek. If you don’t start with “why” and truly understand what it means, then you’ll just end up like a hamster in a wheel—spinning around and around.

On a daily basis, ask yourself: “Why?” Why are you executing this deliverable? Why are you performing that task? Why do you want your business to be more well known? Why do you want to network with other people? Why should they care?

These are just some examples, but the point is to think strategically in business. It is the only way to succeed. Although it’s important, you don’t want to just be known as a taskmaster—the person who sends press releases or runs digital ads. You want a task to be part of the overall picture, but not the be-all and end-all. In PR, other people (i.e., clients or co-workers) should look to you as a strategic mind. You should be considered a “communications strategist” or “strategic advisor,” in addition to the master of tasks who actually secures deliverables. Why are you securing those deliverables in the first place? Is it just to keep clients satisfied, or is there a deeper purpose to your work? I can’t answer that for you—and neither can you unless the question is asked in the first place.

Once you have your “why,” then you can move on to the “how.” How will you brainstorm goals and objectives with your co-workers? How will you exceed expectations for your client? The first step in finding the how is to determine your strategy. Let’s say the overarching goal of your project is to maximize the visibility of your client—in other words, make them more notable. Perhaps one strategy is to “secure earned media at the national level.” Maybe it’s to “gain YouTube subscribers through digital advertising.”

Strategies are the ways in which you complete objectives and reach the final goal—in this case, increasing public notability. Don’t just start listing tactics, such as conducting a press conference or sending out a press release. Don’t just come up with “posting on Twitter.” That’s just one tool in a massive toolbox. Comprehending the scope of your toolbox will help you develop strategies—and the tactics to fill in the blanks. Think of a strategy as a category, with tactics serving as sub-categories to flesh it out.

One strategy that we deployed on behalf of the Trek Across Maine—a statewide fundraiser for the American Lung Association—was to identify the top fundraisers and supporters. Donor identification and promotion were the strategies in order to encourage fundraisers and supporters to tell their unique stories. Then we got to the tactics: We worked with the donors that we identified to come up with their own key messages, based on interest and expertise. We wrote opinion columns and letters to the editor on their behalf, turning talking points into published pieces. We pitched them to television stations, radio shows and print magazines. We curated social media posts, promoting them to a wide range of audiences.

In the end, we tied the stories of the Trek’s brand ambassadors to the ultimate goal of raising money for lung health. The tactics supported the broader strategy of donor identification and promotion, which lent themselves to the end goal of raising awareness about the Trek—and raising the money needed to fight lung disease.

Currently, we are developing strategies for a retailer in the automotive industry. One example is to position the client’s retail store managers as authorities in the field through local media exposure. The purpose is to leverage local news outlets into featuring store managers as thought leaders. This may include message mapping, media training and more, but it’s important not to get lost in the details before coming up with a strategic plan. Being strategic is everything in PR. Think about the big picture!

Don’t start spinning your wheels before knowing the final destination, how to get there and why you’re doing it. (Ironically, my examples had to do with bike wheels and car tires!) Plan accordingly, and you’ll reach your destination efficiently and effectively. And your clients will think so, too.

This article originally appeared on the Forbes Agency Council CommunityVoice in August 2022.