A PR strategy in 5 steps
How to put a PR strategy together in 5 steps
When people imagine ‘doing some PR’ they think about phoning journalists with possible stories or keeping up a sparkling profile on social media.
But that sort of stuff only has a limited value if it’s not backed up by some sort of strategy.
A PR strategy is like any other. It’s a plan of action that’s designed to achieve a long-term aim. You can put it on a side or two of A4 or create a long and detailed document.
Some groundwork is needed before you get to the fun and creative part of thinking about what to put in your press release or choosing Instagram filters to best show off your business pictures.
When you have a strategy mapped out, keep it where you can see it and revise it regularly – it will always be a work in progress. Don’t just file it away and forget about it!
So, our 5 key steps?
Figure out where you are at.
This is what PR professionals call the research stage. If you don’t benchmark where you are now, how will you know how well you’ve done later? Think about conducting a SWOT analysis listing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Who are your competitors? Where are they at, compared with you? Who are your allies including customers and suppliers?
Who do you want to reach through your PR and how will you achieve this? There might be more than one audience to consider. What media do they read, watch or listen to? Are they on Facebook, Twitter or other channels?
Think about where you want to be.
Now is the point to think big. What do you want to achieve? In what timescale? A PR strategy might need to sit alongside an operational strategy – your general business ‘to do’ list – so set targets to get there.
This is where you can keep yourself grounded with some objectives. A lot of businesspeople try to make these targets SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
It might be that you want to sell a set value of products or be commissioned to undertake a particular quantity of work as a result of getting your name out there. Your objectives will be specific to you.
Plan out your tactics.
Now you can get on to the good stuff. Planning out your actions in a table, week by week or month by month, works for many people. That way you can space out your news and conversation with the wider world to create a steady flow of activity, or turn up the volume in periodic bursts.
Tune in to your channels.
PR campaigns work well when they encompass different channels or methods of communication, from newspaper coverage to Twitter conversation, or a niche event to a beautiful brochure.
Think about all the things you could do from sending press releases to relevant journalists to producing photography and video for the web. Well-shot clips and images from your smartphone can work as well as a more traditional corporate video or professional images, so you needn’t fret that this requires big budget.
Consider competitions and offers for social media as well as blog posts and updates for your own website. Plan in face-to-face PR opportunities such as networking events or stands at trade fairs. And don’t forget the possibility of printed materials such as the humble flyer.
Brand identity is important here so create a look that reflects your ambitions and make sure your online presence matches everything from your shop front to your business card.
Think about how to tell whether it’s working.
PR agencies work hard to demonstrate the value of any publicity gained and you should too.
That interview in a magazine might be a real ego-boost but did it bring in work, if that was your objective? Perhaps a simple social media post really created a buzz – think about why it worked well and how you could repeat that success.
You can then build this new knowledge into your strategy for next time.