10 essential elements of a PR plan

Start by identifying your objective. Then, define your measurements, establish your target audience, and craft your strategy.


It’s time to plan for 2018.

When crafting public relations strategy, it’s wise to develop a long-term outlook, but you should plan to test, measure and adapt over time. Modern PR teams must be agile and ready to pivot at a moment’s notice.

Here are 10 elements to consider before finalizing your 2018 PR plan, regardless of your organization’s size or market:

1. Objective

What is the overarching goal of your public relations campaign?

How can you hit the target if you don’t know what you’re aiming for? Every campaign should have a tangible, clear objective.

2. Goals and measurement

What do you want to achieve, and what will success look like?

Measurement is typically an afterthought in public relations programs. That’s a fatal mistake. Measurement should be defined at the outset and tracked throughout a campaign to gauge performance.

3. Publics or audience

What target audience do you want to influence?

The key to good PR practice is defining your public, or audience, as robustly as possible. This may be based on behavior, location or a demographic. Segmenting your audience allows for more targeted, relevant, effective messaging.

4. Research

We have access to troves of data to help understand audiences better than ever before. Make sure you allot plenty of time to research the people you’re trying to reach.

5. Insights

Your research should reveal insights that drive your strategy. Let the data shape your content ideas.

The ability to use data to understand behaviors and motivations is the point where art and science meet in public relations. Data science is becoming an increasingly crucial part of PR.

6. Strategy

Your strategy statement should concisely, clearly summarize how you plan to achieve your goals. Measurement aside, this is often the most debated part of the public relations planning process, so make sure your team is in accord.

7. Creative

What content will your audience clamor for? It’s all about what they want.

8. Channels

Modern PR campaigns must work across an array of platforms and channels. Earned or owned media content typically leads the way, with paid distribution and social media efforts used as a means of amplification and engagement.

Again, it’s all about the audience. Plan to use channels that appeal most to your target audience.

9. Calendar

Make sure to craft a detailed content calendar that schedules campaigns, channels and timelines.

10. Resource

All this work takes investment, right? Tabulate and confirm the resources you’ll need for each element of your program.

You should be able to summarize your plan on a single piece of paper and explain it in five minutes. This doesn’t mean dumbing down the planning process. As with all good writing, make it short, punchy and straightforward. That’s a great start for 2018—and beyond.

Stephen Waddington is chief engagement officer at Ketchum PR. A version of this post first appeared on Ketchum’s blog.

Topics: PR

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