For most businesses, another year means another time for assessment, goal setting, and tactical planning. It is also the perfect moment to consider your Public Relations plan and establish clear and defined objectives that will help your business accomplish optimum exposure in the media.
When preparing your PR plan for the year, a good rule of thumb is to think about the full year ahead, plan for six months, and be prepared to evolve after three months. Like many business activities, PR requires flexibility and acceptance that certain aspects will transform with time. Marketers should also recognize various elements that will make a measurable difference to their company’s success and take them into account at this early stage.
Assess & Plan
First, review the past year and consider your PR activities. If your business received media attention in 2019, review the resulting coverage with an analytical perspective. Note down the angles and pitches that worked well and why they produced such an effect. Remember which reporters spoke and wrote in your favor and which didn’t.
Further, look at the overall quantity of coverage you received. Is it mostly positive, negative, or just neutral? If you have a media measurement service subscription, evaluate the results of your campaigns and, when possible, compare your progress against your competitors.
Next, consider your overall business goals, and use these as a basis for developing your key media messages. See to it that what you say reflects what you’re attempting to accomplish. Your words will create the backbone of your communication goals for the year.
Lastly, create a plan of attack. Review your business strategy through the eyes of a journalist — what would be of interest to your clients or investors? Determine possible media opportunities that could occur during the year, such as product launches, new partnerships, or new service offerings, and develop a calendar that lists the events.
If you can, try to organize important news events that help build buzz. For instance, if your business presents a brand-new line of coastline apparel, time the launch in the springtime to accompany the warmer temperatures.
Always remember to write down your goals and objectives so you can easily refer back to them and evaluate your PR plan’s success throughout the year.
Tools & Tactics
Once you’ve outlined your PR plans for the year, it’s time to consider the activities that will help you attain your goals.
- Create a news release calendar to plan out the news releases you intend to issue throughout the year. You will need to revise this schedule as the business evolves throughout the year, but it’s helpful to have a structure to follow and focus on generating news.
- Media outreach and article outsourcing is still the essence of PR, and the base for any PR program is a strong media list. Before participating in any PR activities, make an effort to research carefully, and build a database of key reporters. Your listing should include the contact details of the magazines and journalists in your industry. It should be organized according to how important each contact is in reaching your target audience.
As soon as you have developed a list, set aside some time on your media outreach schedule. Get in touch with each reporter independently to present yourself and set up informal meetings to discuss the outlook for your business and industry.
- Publications’ editorial calendars provide an outstanding vehicle for planning media exposure. Researching them will enable you to recognize opportunities to offer your knowledge as a specialist, contribute a short article, and even suggest a feature on your company. Once you have established your list of targets, begin calling them immediately. Most editorial outlets have due dates a few months ahead of their publication dates. Pay interest to the closing days, or you’ll lose out on the opportunity.
- Case Studies are really attractive to the media because they provide a real-world example of the advantages of your products and services. The only obstacle with establishing case studies is they require active client participation. Speak to your clients and ask if you can report on their successes. While this will need your customers to share their stories, it provides them — and you — an opportunity to shine.
- Contributed or “bylined” articles can excellently generate direct exposure and establish on your own as an industry professional. Search for study publications, papers, and websites that are open to such posts. When you find one, speak to the editor and suggest a topic. Ensure that the media outlet’s focus remains in sync with your company goals, and the post contains your key messages.
- Speaking opportunities is another way to create exposure. Volunteer as a keynote speaker in research conferences, trade conventions, and webinars or participate in a panel discussion. The value in securing this type of PR can be tremendous, particularly for an expanding business. However, keep in mind that these also call for cautious planning since the majority of speaking possibilities are finalized several months beforehand.
- Blogs and social media have become popular communication tools since they can create an active conversation with a specific target audience. When considering PR tactics, do not forget to research blogs that write about industry and get to know their writers’ styles and personalities. Being present in the blogosphere will give your business a platform and place to be seen as a leader in your industry. Bear in mind, however, that all material released on a blog site is open to a broad audience and can initiate a line of conversation that may not consistently align with your viewpoint.
The internet also consists of various social media sites that people use to connect, shop, and share content and information amongst fellow users. Furthermore, if you have video content that you’d like to show to a target audience, you need to familiarize yourself with video sharing sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and others.
- Crisis planning is another crucial part of your organization’s PR plan. You must be able to consider all possible negative scenarios and the proper responses to them. Ensure that all your team members are acquainted with crisis procedures, and set aside time to do a trial run to resolve any disparities or holes in your strategy.
Preparing your PR plan and strategy will not just help create new ideas and opportunities for you and your business to shine; it will offer you clarity in your everyday operations. While Public Relations plans are always subject to change, preparing ahead will certainly allow you to adhere to your overall goals and maintain your objectives.