Developing an Effective PR Plan: Getting Started

Publicity begets publicity is a principle I learned early in my agency career.

As I’ve found time and time again while working with clients in an array of industries, once a story is done by one news media outlet, others media tend to notice and want in on the action.

Having someone from your agency or business repeatedly quoted in media outlets on a particular topic can go a long ways toward positioning that person as an expert. It’s hard to overstate the value of becoming a trusted source for reporters and the benefits such positioning can garner.

Organizations that make PR a priority through an intentional, ongoing effort to get their names in the marketplace can gain a significant competitive advantage, especially when it comes to new business development.

But in order to manage time, resources and activities in the most productive way possible, it’s vital to have a written PR plan to provide focus, direction, coordination and clear targeting for your efforts.

Without one, PR activities will manage you, and they may lack focus and consistency. Or, they will simply fall off your radar as the tyranny of the urgent takes over.

A good starting point is to nail down as specifically as possible what it is you want your plan to achieve and how you will go about it.

People sometimes use terms such as a goals and objectives interchangeably, so when you’re ready to establish you PR goal, objectives, strategies and tactics, it’s important that everyone is speaking the same language and sharing the same meaning.

I’ve found the following football analogy helpful when thinking through what needs to be accomplished:

Goals are broad and intangible, so the team’s goal could be to become the best high school football team in the world. Because there are no world playoffs at the high school level, the goal couldn’t be measured.

Objective: To win the game. An objective is specific and measurable. In this case, winning is the primary objective.  A secondary objective may be to enable a player to gain enough yards to break a school record or to score a certain number of points.

Strategy: The other team is bigger, but we’re faster.  Therefore, we’ll utilize our superior quickness to achieve the objective (i.e. to win the game).

Tactics: The specific plays we will run throughout the game, especially those that favor quicker players. You also could think of tactics as the action plan.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

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