Seven steps to creating a strategic PR plan

Seven steps to creating a strategic PR plan

Seven steps to creating a strategic PR plan

A strategic PR plan can help you move beyond rushed press releases and piecemeal media placements to get real results from your PR efforts.

To get started, simply follow these seven steps:

Step one: Set a benchmark for your strategic PR plan

The first step in the strategic PR planning process is to set a benchmark and review why you are where you are in terms of brand awareness and marketing performance. Start by benchmarking the strength of your brand in the marketplace with a brand audit, and ensuring you have a clear communications strategy in place.

From here, you can map out previous media coverage, take note of successful story pitches from the past, and consider the strength of existing relationships with journalists, bloggers, and other media figures.

Aside from editorial media, analyse the strength of your web content and social media to get a sense of what is working and what needs to be changed. Platforms like Google Analytics and Hootsuite can help you pinpoint content that is performing well and determine the qualities that helped it to appeal to your audience.

Step two: Define your PR goals and objectives

Setting your PR goals and objectives will be more effective with a clear idea of how previous campaigns have performed and you can decide whether you want to extend PR activity in a similar direction, or find a new approach.

Your overarching goals should be firmly aligned with a business and marketing plan — be this supporting the introduction of new products, expanding into a new area, establishing your expertise, raising brand awareness, or just boosting your bottom line.

These goals should then be distilled into specific and measurable objectives, such as increasing web traffic, getting coverage in top tier publications, or boosting your social media presence by gaining a certain number of engaged followers.

Consider tying your goals to the SMART framework – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

To set measurable goals, you will need to consider how to track the results of your campaign. This might mean looking to specific metrics like the number of articles placed in top tier media publications, orders for a new product or service, mentions on social media, website traffic, or the amount of press clippings that mention your company.

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Step three: Determining the target audience for ‘this’ PR campaign

Determining who the target audience is for your PR campaign is a critical decision.  With your goals and objectives in mind, consider the decision-makers that can turn the tables of fortune in your direction — the individuals, groups and communities that have the power to choose your product or service.

Examine the demographics, psychographics, and digital behaviour of your ideal buyer, and create buyer personas. The more you know about your target audience, the more you can tailor your strategy to be effective.

strategic pr plan target audience
Depending on the nature of your business, you might consider these aspects of your target audience:

1 Location

Are they city slickers or country bumpkins? Knowing where your audience resides will help you pitch stories to the right publications, and tailor online content to the right locality.

2 Media habits

Do they read specific paper publications, or prefer to digest content online? Understanding the type of media your target audience engages with will tell you which media figures are worth pitching stories to.

3 Characteristics

What interests do they share? Knowing what makes your target audience tick can help you identify what sort of messages are likely to resonate with them.

Step four: Create key compelling messaging

With a clear idea of your target audience, you can craft compelling messages to provoke thoughts, words, or deeds.

The brand voice, language, and approach of your messaging will form the backbone of your campaign and guide all the content you create — whether that’s a pitch, press release, or social media campaign.

This messaging needs to reflect what the PR campaign is trying to achieve, and it should be concise, easy to understand and memorable. The messaging should also mesh with other marketing and communications activity including advertising. 

strategic pr plan media channels

Step five: Match your message to the media channel

You need to match your message to the media channel to secure the greatest impact. Once you have your key messaging, you can determine the type of content and preferred distribution platforms.

Find the paper publications and the digital stomping grounds of your target audience, decide which ones you will use to disseminate your message, and begin to build a media list.

Your choice of channel should be based on your target audience. Bear in mind that demographics can change, with audiences across social media channels constantly in flux as the services evolve, and traditional magazines pivoting over time to attract different groups of people.

Thought leaders are respected for their depth of knowledge while Influencers are generally admired for their celebrity.

Step six: Distribute your editorial

You need to distribute your editorial to named journalists who have an interest in your subject matter.  Once you have a small number of focused channels, check the editorial calendars of your target publications — whether mainstream media or digital creators — and consider the pitching deadlines in advance to create a content schedule.

The ideal schedule will consist of content published at regular intervals throughout the year. Consistent media coverage is more beneficial than singular events, creating a steady stream of engagement that draws more leads into the top of the funnel and boosts growth.

Step seven: Measure the success of your strategic PR plan

Don’t forget to measure the success of your strategic PR plan! The final step of a PR plan is very similar to the first: reviewing your objectives and measuring the results of your efforts. Compiling analysis of media activity across different platforms into a single report will then form a clear foundation for the following phase of strategic PR.

To start forming your strategic public relations strategy, reach out to our specialists today. And if you found this article valuable, read our guide to PR Campaign Planning or download the complete guide here.  

Or, if you’d just like to stay in touch – sign up  to receive regular insights on how to make your PR work harder. 

PR Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Your complete Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Including example PR campaigns, content calendar templates, and audit checklists.

Download

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Tips For Delivering An Effective PR Campaign

Tips For Delivering An Effective PR Campaign

Tips For Delivering An Effective PR Campaign

Within your PR campaign, there are several areas we consider crucial if you want to ensure your campaign is effective and always driving you closer to your goals.

At EC-PR, we emphasise the development of a powerful communication strategy and a considered campaign plan. These stages are the core of your campaign planning process and the work we put in is what makes our client campaigns so effective.

Here are our top tips for delivering an effective PR campaign.

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READ: 8 things to consider when choosing a PR Agency

Define Goals & Objectives 

Before you start your PR journey, you need to pin down what your goals are. What do you want to achieve? There are no right or wrong answers – your objective could be short or long term, and could be to launch a new product, or to change perceptions around your brand.

Which of these goals do you want your PR campaign to support? Having strong objectives is the only way you will ever be able to tell how effective a campaign is.

goalkeeper in a football net

Develop A Communication Strategy 

Every effective PR campaign is underpinned by a great communication strategy. Your communication strategy will define what you’re going to say, to whom and when you’re going to say it. Most importantly, it needs to be supported by robust evidence.

Skipping these vital steps will result in a poorly targeted campaign. A strong communication strategy needs to include your value proposition – why you exist and why anyone should care, in-depth persona development exploring pain points, aspirations etc, strong messaging for each stage of the buying cycle, and customer validation or research to ensure your strategy hasn’t missed anything and is aligned with reality.

Sounds like a lot of work? It is, but you will be thankful later! You can read more about developing an effective B2B communication strategy here.

Pull Together Your Campaign Plan 

The hard work isn’t over yet, but we are on the home stretch. Your campaign plan will establish what you should be talking about and where you should be talking about it. Start with a marketing asset audit to establish what resources you already have, if they are serving up the messages identified in your communication strategy, and what you’re missing. We suggest using a media lens model at this stage to identify your sphere of maximum potential influence.

Next, you will need to develop your editorial calendar – who is planning to write on what topics? Come up with topics, synopses, ideas for thought leadership pieces, and blogs that perfectly align with your communication strategy. Do you see why we place so much emphasis on developing a strong comms strategy? If you are stuck on ideas, simply refer to your strategy and think about how you can solve a problem, who has that problem, and how you communicate your solution. What you need to talk about should be very clear.

Here at EC-PR, we work with clients to develop what we call a Brilliant Ideas Bank – a suite of strategically aligned ideas to form the basis of editorial articles and help showcase your company’s knowledge and insights.  

chess board in play

Choose Tactics & Tools Carefully 

Choosing the right activities and channels to deliver your campaign is the key to success. Your communications should be based on everything you discovered during your research period. Don’t feel tempted to veer off course and try anything you can’t reasonably justify. If you’ve identified your target audience and hold industry insights, use them to your advantage and choose tactics and tools that have a strong chance of being successful. We use the PESO model to assist with tactical selection and prioritisation of the right PR tools.

Measure Your Success 

Finally, and it’s an obvious one…you need to measure your success. This is also why it’s so crucial to set clear goals right from the start. By measuring your successes, you can see how far you’ve come and how close you are to reaching your objectives.

pink measuring tape

At EC-PR we are passionate about B2B communication. We believe your work is amazing and we want to help you tell the world how extraordinary it is. Get in touch.

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