Here at PR in Your Pajamas, we talk about the various PR tools at your disposal. However, there’s a danger of missing the forest for the trees. That is, being preoccupied with individual tools and losing sight of the bigger picture.
Talk to a PR consultant and many are hired when something urgent comes along: a new product announcement, a major customer comes on board, something negative happens and there is a crisis in reputation management or the stock price takes a dive.
At this point, it’s tempting to take a shotgun approach to PR: solve a specific and time-sensitive need. However, it’s better to approach things strategically.
Strategic PR maximizes your resources to ensure you meet your business’ most important goals. Here are the key elements:
1. Goals and Objectives
Strategic PR means you know where you’re going and part of that is assessing the past. If your company received media attention in the past, look at the coverage – was it positive, neutral or negative? Who are the journalists covering you or your industry that you need to build relationships with, and what story angles worked well?
Your PR objectives need to contribute to the overall corporate goals otherwise it will never be recognized as mission-critical. Consider these statements a CEO might make:
- “We want to COMPETE in the (middle-market segment of your industry)”
- “We want to OWN (a high-end segment with huge potential)”
- “We want to DISRUPT (a niche segment you’re not currently considered a player in)”
You will want to be able to show exactly how PR contributes to these bigger goals.
Beware of setting PR objectives which cannot realistically be accomplished with PR, or with PR alone, such as getting stakeholder acceptance of leadership changes in the company, raising venture capital, or increasing sales by 35%.
2. Audience Focus
You also need to ensure you’re clear on which specific target audiences you want to reach, and have done the research on how best to reach and influence them.
For example, you know their current views on your product or company, which messages and themes will resonate best with them, and which communication channels are best for reaching them.
3. A Clear Execution Plan
When PR objectives, audience research, and messaging are completed, you can formulate a clear and realistic PR plan with strategies and tactics such as a news release calendar, media relations, contributed or by-line articles, speaking opportunities, award applications, case studies and of course, blogs and social media.
Your plan should leverage timing for key product or service announcements and growth or expansion milestones so that they are maximized and you are not releasing all your major news all at once.
4. Data Driven
Decisions you make on your PR campaign needs to be based on data and not plain instinct or “a hunch.” Where data is available, use it to better understand your market and competition.
By compiling data using Google Analytics or PR software from Vocus for example, you can track and assess the impact of your PR activities. For example, you might want to track:
- Are your media mentions brief or did you get more lengthy profile pieces this year?
- How are you perceived against competitors in these articles?
- Did your SEO press releases actually help your website move up in page ranking?
- How many sales leads and conversions can be attributed to a white paper/giveaway downloaded on your site?
- Did you see a spike in social media activity when you released your news?
- Has your customer acquisition cost been lowered because of PR?
- Are there specific sites (news or blogs where you are mentioned) that consistently send more traffic to your website?
This will help you make intelligent decisions about making adjustments, abandoning other activities, and scaling up others. Base your actions on results, in order to get even more and better results.
5. Synergy and Alignment
Strategic PR leverages past campaigns, and is aligned with your marketing and sales efforts. It is not fragmented, disjointed or scattered. Rather, there is a consistent and coherent theme running through all your organization’s efforts.
If you are at a major trade show for example, your media influencers will be there. Schedule meetings at your booth.
Or, leverage a CEO or business owner’s time. If he or she is based in California and they are traveling to London for business meetings — are there journalists or bloggers to meet with? In this day and age of online networking, Skype and Google hangouts, nothing beats a face-to-face meetings to build relationships, especially if you’ve traveled a long way to meet someone.
These are the 5 elements of strategic public relations. Which elements do your PR campaigns already have? Which are missing, or could be improved on?
I’d love to hear how you’re doing and where you need more support to get more visibility for your business.
Please leave me a comment below!