Create a Solid Public Relations Strategy in Four Simple Steps
What makes a solid PR strategy? To start with, experience-based instinct, research and data. But most importantly, it’s the ability to measure ROI. PR pros are increasingly asked the million dollar “what’s the ROI question” and “I think” just isn’t good enough these days, especially since the introduction of measurement tools.
“PR, as an industry, often comes under attack for its inability to map results back to tangible business metrics,” comments my friend and peer Kimberly Youngstrom, Group Vice President, MWW Public Relations. “While intuition and experience are essential, PR programmes especially need the substantiation and justification that sound research and analysis can provide.”
The goal of a sound public relations strategy is universal. Deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time. The path to building a successful public relations strategy can be boiled down to four steps.
Create a Solid PR Strategy in Four Simple Steps
1. Do Your Homework
The first step towards building a PR strategy is starting with research. “Use competitive insights to ensure your team doesn’t replicate a similar idea, creates unique messaging and finds specific audiences that aren’t currently being targeted,” adds Tanya Rynders, PR consultant. “Keeping up with media outlets that typically write about your brand or product will help you stay on top of current discussions and trends in real time.”
As you approach a new PR campaign, use your monitoring tools to understand the micro and macro media landscape related to your key messaging. On the macro level, media monitoring tools will help you to understand your overall brand perception, your competition, industry and customer.
On a micro level, you’ll want to use your tools to research press and social media discussions about products or services similar to those you’re pitching. You need to know everything possible about the media landscape you’re entering before you pick up a phone or send a single email pitch.
2. Clearly Define Your Campaign Goal
Too often we pitch for the sake of pitching; this is not strategic. Pitching without a clearly defined goal is useless. All PR campaigns need a clear goal. Answering these questions will help you put one together without too much pain:
- Who is your ultimate customer?
- What message(s) do you want to deliver to that customer?
- What are you hoping to achieve?
The answers to the above questions will inform your key messages and outreach strategy. If you know why you’re pitching and what you are trying to achieve, the next steps to completing your PR strategy will be that much easier.
3. Write your PR Pitch Based On Your Research
By now you’ve done your research to better understand your customer, competition and industry. You should have also set a clear public relations strategy goal. Those two steps will help you shape your message.
Now it’s time to write your pitch. It needs to 1) be newsworthy to your target journalists 2) resonate with your customer and 3) match your business objectives if you’re to see ROI from your public relations strategy.
Youngstrom sums up the correlation between research and messaging nicely; “At the end of the day, great insights provide opportunities to tell unique stories that resonate with target audiences.”
A well-crafted pitch should be concise and easily digestible. It should also move your customer towards action and should resonate. Once you have the first draft, start scrutinising it. Ask yourself whether it’s meeting both your business and public relations strategy objectives and share it with a colleague or two for feedback. If needed, edit, and edit some more. As they say, practice makes perfect!
4. Identify and Understand Media Targets
With your PR strategy messaging complete, its time to decide on a distribution channel. This is arguably the most important step, as all the above is useless if you don’t get in front of the right journalists that will help you to reach your customer.
Determining distribution is largely based on the messaging you’ve developed. The question you need to ask is whether your message is best suited for a broadcast approach (press release) or more personal approach (individual pitching).
Does your message have mass appeal or will it get better pick up if you pitch to a more narrow, targeted list of journalists? If you’re announcing something or making an official statement, a press release may be best. However, if you’re commenting on a trend or news in relation to your brand, a personalised pitch may be best.
Build your media list based on the subjects journalists are already writing about. After all, there is no point targeting beauty journalists with a pitch about a vaccine. With the right press contact database, it will take only a matter of minutes to determine which journalists have covered your competition, industry and subject matter. Combine that list with journalists with whom you’ve built relationships in the past and you’re ready to go!
A PR strategy is the foundation to campaign success. PR professionals bring a strategic way of thinking about the communication between a company and its customer. It’s extremely important that we remember this as we approach every project, both small and large. If you follow the above steps and use the available PR software tools, developing a good public relations strategy can be quick, painless and effective.
For more insight into how PR strategy fits into larger PR programmes or campaigns, get in touch with us via the form below! We would love to discuss how to take your public relations strategy to the next level.
This blog was updated 20/12/2018