PR & Communications | 4 minute read
Whether you want to build brand awareness, increase lead generation, or boost brand credibility, you need an effective PR plan.
Think of it as a strategic roadmap that directs you towards your business goals. It helps define whom you are targeting, what content you’ll provide them, and how you’ll communicate.
Here are six steps to help you create and implement a strategy in line with your marketing plans and set yourself up for PR success.
1. Define your long-term objectives
A great starting point is to consider your long-term business goals. What is it you want to convey to your target audience? How would you like them to see – and feel – about your brand? In other words, what do you want your PR plan to achieve?
Having an understanding of the bigger picture helps you formulate long-term consistent campaigns where each piece of PR adds to the overall awareness of your brand. Of course, you can still be reactive – every PR plan should be agile and flexible – but be sure to keep in mind how every press release, product launch or event can edge you towards and reinforce your longer-term goals.
Talking of long-term goals, it’s always a good idea to set deadlines (even if they’re written in pencil rather than in pen). As self-help author Napoleon Hill once said, ‘A goal is a dream with a deadline.’
2. Identify the right audience
There are nearly eight billion people on earth. Targeting them all is an impossible task. Understanding who your core audience is will save you time and effort and help create a more effective PR strategy. That’s because it enables you to identify where they get their content and how they like to consume information.
For example, you can pinpoint the key industry publications, influencers, and events they use. You can then concentrate your efforts on targeting their favoured outlets.
3. Create strategic content
Identifying your audience and their online behaviours is just the start. Now you know how to contact them the focus is how to connect with them. Whether it’s for your PR plan or marketing strategy, content creation is king.
The golden rule for every piece of PR communication is to provide your audience with value. Ask yourself, how will this press release benefit them? Why should they care? This can be achieved by creating content that positions your brand as a thought leader so you become the go-to source for information about your sector.
Creating value for your audience helps create value for your brand.
4. Customise your pitch
According to the Guardian, most journalists get hundreds of press releases each day. Thankfully there are things you can do to help yours rise to the top of the pile. Firstly, targeting journalists at the outlets your audience actively use will help as you’re providing content that will benefit their readers.
To increase the chances of your press release being read, keep your pitch brief, use persuasive language and customise it to the journalist. Take the time to research them and read their recent articles. Mention them by name, say how you enjoyed their article about XYZ, and briefly explain why your press release is a good fit for their publication.
5. Build relationships with key journalists
A good pitch should help set the foundations for a long-term relationship between your brand and the journalist. As such, think of it as a two-way ongoing conversation. Don’t pitch journalists a press release and then never speak to them again. Let them know you’re on hand if they have questions and that you can provide more information or quotes from key figures as required.
Journalists are busy. Anything you can offer to make their lives easier will strengthen your bond with them, as they’ll come to see you as a collaborator.
6. Increase brand visibility
So, you’ve pitched your press release and the journalist has taken it to press. What now? Well, now is the time to double down on the published article by sharing it with your target audience on all available channels. This includes creating a blog on your own site that links to the third-party publication, contacting your mailing list with a link to the content, and sharing it on the social media channels that your audience use.
You should also think about potential follow up releases. What extra value can you offer that builds on what has already been published? Always think long-term and consider your contacts in the world of journalism as ongoing relationships.