Public relations, PR can really help you reach your business goals. Effective public relations campaigns can send traffic to your website and social media pages, better reach your target audience, promote brand awareness, highlight good deeds your company engages in, and connect with bigger fish who can help get your company’s name out there. PR is a communications strategy.
Those all sound great, don’t they? But a public relations plan shouldn’t be stand-alone. It has to line up with your marketing strategy. We’ll explore how to develop a PR communication plan that fits your marketing strategy for a real one-two punch.
What is a PR Plan?
A PR plan is a strategy formulated to control a company’s public perception. The public can include potential customers, current customers, investors, potential investors, peers within the business community, and the general public.
Of course, the goal is for that perception to be positive because that is part of what attracts customers, readers, listeners, whatever it is your business wants more of.
How Does a PR Plan Help Your Business?
So how does a PR plan help? A PR plan outlines a company’s business objectives and supports its marketing efforts. A PR plan can also stamp out an ember before it becomes a fire in the event of negative publicity like an unflattering review in the media or put out a fire in the case of something bigger like a scandalous news story the company or an employee is involved in. And PR can close a perception gap between how the public sees your brand and how you want your brand to be seen.
But the benefits of a PR plan can go beyond those things and include:
- Increasing brand awareness for all stakeholders
- Build trust and credibility
- Boost SEO
- Broaden your reach
- Build and maintain a positive brand image
- Attract investors
- Attract high-value employees
- Build connections
- Generate leads
All good things that are part of any business plan! Yep, PR can do all of that.
Step #1: Define Your Brand Goals
An effective PR plan requires defining its objectives and goals. Your objectives can include:
- Establishing your company as an authority
- Fostering goodwill in your business and local communities
- Polishing your company image
- Generating leads
- Recovering from some form of bad publicity
- Announcing a new business venture
- Making major company announcements
Your objectives are a wish list but your goals are measurable. There is a great acronym to achieve this, SMART Objectives:
Specific: “Improve our reach” is too vague. “Increase audience engagement by 30%” is specific. A strategic goal can be measured.
Measurable: Increasing audience engagement by 30% is something you can measure.
Actionable: You could probably increase your audience engagement (at least) by 30% if you took out a front-page ad in the New York Times. But you probably don’t have the budget to do that.
Realistic: Increase your audience engagement by 500%. Well, maybe you could with that front-page ad, but as you can’t afford it, 500% isn’t realistic.
Timely: Establish a deadline. You don’t want to stay in the planning stages forever. Create a PR plan and start implementing it.
You have a business; you know nothing happens without a plan. The same is true for PR.
Step #2: Identify Your Target Audience
Groups who don’t need your product or service aren’t going to buy it no matter how strong your social media presence is and how clever your PR campaign is. Who is your target market, and where do they hang out (online)? You need to do some research to answer these essential questions to make sure an audience is worth investing your time and resources into trying to reach.
You have to study your target audience and their target channels before reaching out for collaborations. If you’re trying to build a relationship with a major Tik-Toker but your company sells walkers, it’s not a good fit. Your market segment is not TikToking!
These are some things you need to understand about your audience to create a solid PR strategy, to say nothing of a successful business!:
- Demographics: Age, gender, income, marital status, level of education
- Location: Country, state, city
- Psychographics: Interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes
Step #3: Spend Time Researching Opportunities
There are so many methods of communication for your PR blitz:
- Social media platforms (And which ones? LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, et al. All of them have different audience demographics)
- News releases
- Industry publications
- Consumer review sites
- Sponsored content
What is your weapon(s) of choice? Partly the answer lies in Step #2, who is your target audience and where do they congregate? And who do you already know that works for respected media outlets or has a blog or podcast that reaches your key audiences? The more connections you have, the more people you have who may be willing to help you reach your PR goals.
Step#4: Determine the Appropriate Channels and Media Outlets
Once you’ve chosen the medium for your message, you need to narrow it down to specific outlets. This is where again, Step #2 comes in. If your target audience lives on the coasts, Fox News is probably not the appropriate outlet.
Podcasts have great potential because there are so many that are very niche and tend to have very loyal followers who have a strong relationship with the podcast host(s). Seriously, if Chuck and Josh from SYSK recommend something to me, I’ll buy it. In fact, it’s been shown that podcast loyalty boosts positive attitudes towards ads!
Step #5: Define Your Key Messages
Your key message should support the overall goal of your PR campaign. If your goal is a product launch, your key message should inform and educate your target audience on your product and persuade them to buy it or at least check it out. If your company has suffered some bad publicity, the key message of a successful PR campaign will improve the public’s perception of it.
Whatever your goal, your key message should be short and memorable. People are inundated with information; they will not remember reams of information.
If you are an 80s kid, you might remember TV commercials for drag races, monster truck rallies, and wrestling events. They went something like this:
SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! TIME, PLACE, PARTICIPANTS!
These commercials worked obviously, as I still remember them all these years later! They were short, sweet, and got the message across in a memorably way.
Step #6: Find Stories About Your Business
You’ve chosen your key messages, great! Now to slap a compelling story with it. Good PR is more than a pitch; it’s a well-crafted story. Awesome story ideas are organic and authentic; people can sniff out BS, and when they do, you’ll lose their trust.
As a former agency owner, I know how difficult it can be to manage an agency. I built a web and SEO agency from the ground up and sold it for seven figures. (A good story in itself!). The problem I realized when building links for clients is that link building is very complex. I wanted to make this draining process easy for other people so they wouldn’t face the same struggles I had. And that’s how Postaga was born! Here are the stories that I promote:
- How to automate your business
- How to do link building in a scalable way
- How to build and sell a seven-figure agency
- How a lawyer sold a web agency for seven figures
- How to build and run a completely remote company
You need a list of stories you can share to establish yourself as an authority while promoting your business. If there is no story yet, focus on building a few. Some examples include creating case studies on how you’ve helped your clients. Let your team members share a relevant story. And easiest of all, let your customers tell their stories (about how awesome your company is). You can mine all of these areas for current and future stories to share with your target audience.
Story-telling was the first thing to develop from the invention of language; humans have a need both to tell and to hear the stories of others. It’s one of the ways we develop relationships, whether it’s between friends or between a business and its customers.
Step #7: Develop Your PR Distribution Plan
So how do you write a successful PR plan? You created a perfect media pitch, reached out to the relevant media contacts, and respected media outlets are ready to get your message out there. You can now add Director of Public Relations to the hats you wear! You think it’s job done!
But don’t put your feet up quite yet. Yes, those people have successful media outlets and will disseminate your content. But you have outlets too! And the more outlets broadcasting your message, the better. Consider putting the word out via:
- A company-wide announcement asking everyone to share your campaign on their personal social media platforms
- Sharing it on your own and your company’s social media posts
- Asking friends and family to share it on their social media pages (I mean, why not?!)
- Paid advertising (Don’t spend wildly here. PR has been shown to be 90% more effective than advertising, but a few well-placed ads won’t hurt if you have the budget)
- Sending your campaign out via newsletter to your existing mailing list
Another essential part of your campaign plans that shouldn’t be overlooked is scheduling. The schedule for your campaign plan timeline should include:
- The outlets promoting your campaign
- The dates and times of any appearances (interviews, launch parties, etc..) you or your company will be making
- A schedule to announce any appearances and stories via your social media pages
Also, be sure to consider any holidays or other significant events before scheduling things. Long holiday weekends like Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day are notoriously “slow news” times because people aren’t inside watching or reading the news or paying attention to social media, they’re at the beach or a barbecue!
Step #8: Measure the Success of Your PR Campaign
Creating a successful strategy isn’t easy, so you want to know if your PR campaign was successful and how successful. Based on your findings, you may need to create a follow-up plan, either to take advantage of that success while it’s still fresh or to address failures. Either way, you need data to properly follow up.
Organic traffic and customer feedback are the end all be all metrics for many companies, but it’s far from the only metric you should be monitoring.
Ask yourself the 10 questions to measure your success.
- Did you get new customers?
- Did your authority increase?
- Did your web traffic increase, was it valuable traffic?
- Did you drown out negative reviews?
- Did you promote your key messages?
- Did rankings improve for your articles?
- Did you get enough media impressions?
- Did your podcast get significant listeners?
- Did you get social media mentions or shares?
- Did you change the target audience’s perceptions of your brand?
You don’t need s suite of expensive analytics tools. Postaga keeps track of your outreach campaigns flawlessly. So if anything goes wrong, you’ll know from the dashboard.
- Postaga builds trust for your brand
- Postaga establishes you as an authority
- Postaga gets you link building opportunities in high-quality sites
- Postaga builds your relationship with journalists, marketers & influencers
PR Plan Template
This is a lot, we know! We also know how impactful an excellent public relations strategy can be for your business. So we’ve created a PR plan template to make things as easy on you as possible!
This PR strategy template is your Rosetta Stone. It makes creating and tracking a long-term plan straightforward and efficient. The template includes all of the components we’ve discussed here so that you can see your plan development at a glance. And PR is an ongoing effort so having a template helps to automate your efforts.
To Wrap It All Up
Are you ready to crush your marketing goals? This comprehensive PR plan is just what you need. This campaign action plan is precisely what your company has been waiting for! To say nothing of your soon-to-be legions of new customers, dare we say fans? It’s SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! What are you waiting for?
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