It’s the start of a new year, and that means it’s a good time to get your public relations strategy in tip top shape. Like working out to stay in shape, it’s important to regularly visit your PR strategy to make sure it’s working right.
There are five essential components to a strategy that will help define your PR initiatives. They are:
- Objectives: What do you want to achieve?
- Audience: With whom are you communicating?
- Messages: What do you want to say?
- Channels: What are the means through which you’ll communicate?
- Measurement: How will you know if you’re successful?
Let’s talk about each of these individually.
Objectives: Seems pretty clear, right? For most businesses, objectives are fairly easy to define. More downloads, more sales, more leads, better brand awareness, etc. Those are quite common, but they’re not the only objectives that PR might address. Many times, PR is a deft tool for shaping opinions: How aware are people about an issue and how do they feel about it? What are people’s perceptions of things, such as corn syrup, crude oil, etc. a public relations strategy can be developed to influence how people think and feel.
Audience: This term is somewhat antiquated, but is still commonly used. A more accurate term, however, would be stakeholder. That refers to the larger group of people who are affected by a company’s actions. That could be customers, but it could also be anyone who could positively or negatively influence customer decisions, community members, or government officials.
Messages: We like to say in our proposals that it’s not just what you say, but how you say it, that matters. The art of messaging (and it really is an art), is the process of developing messages that will not just trigger actions, thoughts or feelings among your audiences, but is rather a process of finding the language that will address your audiences’ needs and desires in a way that creates positive feelings about your brand, product or company. It is not a call to action, at least not necessary, nor are messages often specific talking points (though that can be part of them). Instead, they are the phrases and sentences that move your audiences closer to your point of view.
Channels: Back in the old days, there were likely just a few newspapers, three TV channels, and a handful of radio stations in each city. Today, the number of channels is almost infinite. Because time is a precious resources, this part of your strategy needs to prioritize which channels are most important to you. Now, most companies instantly think, “If I just get national media attention, all my problems will be solved.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are many circumstances where national media shouldn’t be as high of a priority. In other words, it’s best to work to find targeted channels that your audiences pay attention to. Whether that’s traditional media outlets or social networks, it’s essential to spend time communicating through channels where the people seeing your messages and engaging with you will most likely respond.
Measurement: Measuring public relations can be truly challenging, but many strides have been made to tie PR activities to Return on Investment or at least Return on Relationship (ROR). While measuring things like impact on sales is important, it’s not the only yard stick that will tell you if your PR campaign is working. Instead, it’s important to look at metrics such as level and quality of engagement (particularly if your strategy involves social media), clarity and frequency of message, and other similar stats that have less to do with a company or organization’s bottom line and more to do with how well they are managing their relationships.
Please note, that these are pieces of a strategy, but they do not constitute a full PR plan. We’ll be going over that in another blog post, but if you need help figuring out your public relations strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us.