When it comes to PR, sitting down and strategising before embarking on a campaign is essential. A well thought out, comprehensive strategy can often make the difference between success and failure. Correct planning will help you organise your ideas, make sure your core messages are congruent, work out your target audience and decide on the tactics that you will use to target them. While ‘make a plan’ might sound like the most obvious statement in the book, it’s something that often gets overlooked or doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. So, with that in mind – here’s some simple tips for how to create a PR plan.
When you create a PR plan, the first step must be to outline what it is you want to achieve. These goals can be as few or as many as you need. What’s important is that you make them clear, achievable and consistent with the overall objectives of your business. Time frames are also important – plan out a set amount of activity for a certain period, and a date for revising plans later on. For instance, you could start by considering the full year ahead, planning for six months, and revising after three. Like everything in business, PR requires flexibility and a recognition that things may change over time.
Identifying your target audience is another invaluable step. All the best PR work in the world will mean nothing if the audience isn’t relevant and receptive to your message. Whose support do you need to reach your goals? Who will be interested in what you have to say? Once you’ve identified this, research where you can find and influence your target audience. For instance, start looking at the relevant publications in your sector. Or perhaps targeting social media and bloggers would create more engagement. Defining this is absolutely essential. Without it, you are going in blind
Defining your key messages is a crucial first step, and one of the core components of a good PR strategy. These are the messages you want to portray to your audience. They will shape your content and enable the completion of your goals. When you create a PR plan, this is a stage you cannot skip, and something that should require serious thought. To figure out what your key messages should be, think about your overall goals, and what content would help achieve this. The best key messages are believable, easy to understand, relevant, and succinct.
Now you’ve worked out your messages and target audience, you need to consider the best tactics to reach them. Here are some of the most common examples:
Plan releases – Plan out the press releases you intend to issue throughout the year or month, and be on the lookout for topics that you could react to, or ‘piggyback.’
List-building and pitching – Take the time to research and build a database of relevant reporters or bloggers that you can then pitch in ideas to – remember – this will change regularly and will require constant upkeep.
Editorial calendars – Look at forward features of magazines and websites, as they can offer an excellent way for gaining exposure, and planning out future activity.
Contributing bylined articles – This is will help you not only generate exposure, but also establish yourself or your business as a thought leader in a sector.
Case studies – These work similarly to bylined articles, but also offer a tangible, real-world example of the benefits of your product or services. However they can be more challenging to develop as they require active customer participation.
Speaking opportunities – Research conferences, trade-shows, webinars and roundtables for opportunities to put forward your client or business as a speaker or a member of a panel discussion.
Blogs and social media – Research the blogs relevant to you, get to know the styles and personalities of their authors, and the type of content they’re putting out.
Measurement is a key part of a campaign that is often overlooked. Why bother putting considerable time and money into PR without an accurate way of measuring the value you’re creating? While measurement may be a chore to some, without it, you won’t learn anything. Sadly, so many companies neglect this, with 50-60% of PR campaigns having no method of evaluation at all. Measurement should be considered from the very start when you create a PR plan. Accurate KPI’s should then be created in order to track success. Share of Voice, AVE, quality and quantity of coverage, leads produced and plenty of other methods can be used to measure how effective your efforts are. What’s crucial is that you outline how you intend do this the start of a campaign and stick to the same metrics consistently.
As the saying goes, without taking time to create a PR plan, even your best efforts aren’t likely to go very far at all. Even with great content and work ethic, without a targeted approach that can also allow for some flexibility to adapt to different situation, you’re setting yourself up to fail. By following the steps above – you’re likely to have all your bases covered, and the groundwork laid for a fruitful and effective PR campaign.
Need help planning your PR, Marketing, or Social Media strategy? Contact BlueSky today.