Public relations companies have the difficult task of helping their clients always stay relevant and up-to-date. To help them in carrying out that task, we’ve compiled this list of 11 steps that all PR professionals need to follow in order to run an effective public relations campaign.
#1 Establish your goals and objectives
You know how they say – first things first. The first step in creating a superb public relations campaign is to write out your goals and objectives for the campaign. What are you trying to achieve with it? Public relations is most effective when it’s used as a tool in addition to other marketing efforts, so make sure that this comes across in how you communicate with clients about your plan of action.
The objectives of a public relations campaign can vary greatly. Nevertheless, here are some general goals that you might want to consider:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Generating leads or sales
- Improving customer loyalty/retention
- Building relationships with key stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, the media)
- Creating a positive image for your brand or company
- Positioning your company as an industry leader
- Establishing clear goals and objectives is essential if you want a successful public relations campaign.
Also, it is important that everyone involved in the campaign is on the same page when it comes to campaign goals.
When you can clearly articulate what it is you want to achieve, clients will be more likely to invest in your efforts. And, last but not least, make sure these objectives are realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure by promising more than you can deliver.
#2 Define your target group
The “why” behind your public relations campaign matters, but so does “who for”.
Your public relations campaign is likely not for everyone (unless you promote water or air). That’s why you need to identify the people you want to reach with your public relations efforts.
Public relations campaigns are often targeted toward specific demographics. It’s important to know exactly who your target group is before moving forward with your campaign.
Once you’ve identified your target audience (a group or groups of individuals whose needs and interests align most closely with what you have to offer), you’ll need to research them. Paying attention to current trends can help with this, as well as looking into how your audience spends their time online and what publications they read.
The more you know about who it is that will be receiving the information you’re sharing, the better equipped you’ll be to reach them in the most effective way.
#3 Develop a strong message that resonates with your audience
Crafting a message that will resonate with your target group is essential to the success of any public relations campaign. First, understand what your target group cares about. Then, tap into those interests in order to get them engaged with what you have to offer.
Your message should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Think of it as a kind of “elevator pitch” that you can use to quickly and effectively describe your brand or product.
It should be consistent across all platforms (both online & offline). This means your campaign should be versatile enough to fit perfectly into any type of publication or event where it might pop up.
If the information you’re sharing is relevant to your target group, they’re more likely to take an interest in what you have to say.
Make sure that all aspects of the public relations campaign work together to support this message – from the visuals you use to the language you employ.
#4 Create a timeframe for the campaign
Once you’ve determined your message and identified your target group, it’s time to create a timeframe for the campaign. Public relations campaigns can last anywhere from one day to several months. Determine what works best with your goals and objectives before moving forward with this step.
When determining the timeframe for each campaign, be sure to consider the possible outcomes you’re hoping for, but also all the setbacks you can encounter.
You’ll also want to set a timeframe based on how much time and resources you can devote to the project. Trying to do too much in too little time is a recipe for disaster. Be realistic about what you can accomplish and stick to that schedule.
Friendly tip: Gantt charts work really well for planning timeframes.
Once the campaign has started, keep an eye on the goals you’ve set and your ideal timeframe. If something isn’t working, make changes as needed. But, always ensure that these changes still align with the overall message of the campaign.
#5 Craft a comprehensive communications plan
A good communications plan is key to a successful public relations campaign. It should outline all of the specific tactics you’ll be using to reach your target audience, as well as how and when they will be implemented.
Here’s what should be included in your communications plan:
- The overall strategy for the campaign
- An overview of each tactic and how it will be used
- The target audience for each tactic
- Who is responsible for implementing each tactic
- When each tactic will be executed
- How you will measure the success of each tactic
Depending on the goals of your public relations campaign, it may also be a good idea to include some secondary tactics. When providing information about what you have to offer and why your target audience should care, these extra efforts can help strengthen your primary message. They can reinforce certain points or even directly address common concerns that people might have prior to hearing from you.
#6 Identify key media outlets to reach your target audience
Not all media outlets are created equal. And, not all of them are the right fit for your public relations campaign. When identifying which outlets to target, consider:
- Reach of the outlet – how many people will see your message when it’s published?
- Demographics of the audience – is this an audience that you want to reach?
- Tone of the outlet – is it formal or casual?
Once you’ve identified the outlets that could work for your campaign, create a list of all the publications that could promote your campaign. Identify the main people for each publication (usually editors-in-chief) as well as their assistants. Try to find their publicly available contact info (such as business e-mail), so you can reach out once your campaign is launched. This will increase the chances of your pitch being heard.
If you already have a list of media outlets and contacts, it’s important to regularly update this information. Keeping up-to-date on who covers what helps keep your public relations campaign moving along smoothly.
It’s also important to look at this step as a long-term investment. Build not only a list of contacts but also relationships. This way, your next public relations campaigns can be more successful and even quicker to execute.
#7 Develop compelling and tailored content
Once you’ve identified the publications that will best help you reach your target audience, it’s time to develop compelling and tailored content specifically for these outlets.
That content (usually a newsletter) should provide readers with a clear reason as to why they should care about your campaign. Think of something that people who read a certain publication would find interesting or valuable. You want all of your messages to be consistent with your overall campaign strategy. But, you also want to ensure that each one is tailored to the specific outlet you’re pitching it to.
When creating this content, keep in mind the following:
- Make sure the headlines are catchy and grab attention
- The body of the article should be around 500-600 words long (always aim for concise pitches)
- Include a compelling call-to-action at the end of the article
- Avoid industry jargon or complex concepts that might be difficult for the average reader to understand
If writing isn’t your strong suit, don’t worry! Hiring a professional PR writer can help ensure that the content you create will be engaging and effective.
#8 Secure top-tier spokespeople to promote your campaign
One of the most important factors in any public relations campaign is who you have speaking on your behalf. When it comes to securing spokespeople, think about:
- The level of influence they have with your target audience
- Their ability to articulate the key messages of your campaign
- Their willingness to promote your campaign
Ideally, you want to secure high-profile spokespeople that have a lot of influence on your target audience. These people can help spread the word about your campaign and encourage others to get involved. However, it’s important to make sure that they’re actually interested in helping promote your message. Public relations campaigns are all about gaining attention. You certainly don’t want to damage your reputation by associating with the wrong spokesperson.
Before deciding about your spokespeople, it’s also important to determine how they fit into your overall campaign strategy and what sort of value each person can bring to the table.
#9 Engage with macro- and micro-influencers
When it comes to creating a successful public relations campaign, engaging with key influencers is just as important as the other eight elements.
Public relations campaigns take time and require consistent effort before they really pay off – which means that you want to make sure your efforts aren’t wasted.
Key influencers are people who have a large amount of social capital and have the ability to sway other people’s opinions by sharing their own.
When engaging with key influencers, it’s important to keep in mind that quality is much more valuable than quantity. Having even a small group of people who are truly invested and engaged with your campaign can make all the difference when it comes to gaining exposure. You can also go ahead and find affiliates for your business to amplify the results.
Make sure key influencers, and all other people working on your campaign, feel appreciated for their work. Public relations campaigns are all about building relationships and trust, so always remember that it’s a two-way street!
#10 Optimize your public relations campaign
As all PR professionals know, creating a public relations campaign takes a lot of effort and time. That’s why you should always look for ways to optimize your campaign; make sure to always keep it up-to-date, all while focusing your time on the most important segments of the campaign.
As we’ve shown in our previous blog PR Automation: Best Tools Which Do the Work for You, by using different online tools, you can automate some rather technical tasks. That way, you can save your time and focus on other, more important, non-automatable tasks to get your PR tasks to the highest level.
#11 Understand and measure the impact of your PR campaign with media monitoring
It’s important to measure the impact of your public relations campaign so that you can determine whether or not it was successful. Media monitoring tools can help you identify what worked and what didn’t work in your PR campaign so that you can make changes for next time.
There are a number of different metrics that show the impact of your PR campaign, including:
- Social media engagement
- Media mentions
- Public sentiment towards your brand or product/service
Tracking these, and many other, metrics with the help of a media monitoring tool, such as Determ, will give you a complete overview of how your public relations campaign performed. This information is essential for determining whether or not to continue allocating resources to your PR efforts.
Over to you
Public relations campaigns can be a powerful tool for promoting your brand or product/service, but it’s important to remember that a successful campaign doesn’t happen overnight. By following the eleven tips we’ve covered in this blog, you’ll be on your way to creating a public relations campaign that really pays off!
Now that you have a general idea of what goes into planning a public relations campaign, it’s time to get started on putting your own together. Good luck!