Whether it’s a new client, the start of a new quarter or a six-month refresher, creating concrete plans are the first step toward PR success.
Here are seven essentials of successful PR planning:
1. Expand on what worked, remove what didn’t. When creating PR plans for an existing client, it’s important to discuss ineffective campaign elements. Recognizing flops helps you pivot away from what’s not working and toward elements that stand a better chance of driving traffic, increasing awareness and boosting sales.
2. Establish the goals. All sides should clearly understand what PR objectives you’re working toward and why specific tactics are included in your strategy. If a goal is to increase traffic to the client’s website, include ideas for securing coverage in and backlinks from respected publications. Outlining specific, tangible goals helps both sides understand the “why” behind the strategy and gives a clear picture of the desired destination.
3. Outline all the details. Discuss the minutiae to gain approval during the planning process. This cuts down on confusion down the road and prevents the delaying of initiatives. The last thing you want to do is surprise clients with tactics they oppose. If you suggest a data program, include the topics the survey will focus on, the suggested questions, a cost estimate and the pitches and publications in the outreach process once data collection is over.
4. Push creativity. Don’t shy away from imaginative ways to reach PR planning goals. Your campaign might call for experiential events, new ways to reach influencers or a unique advertising strategy to drive downloads.
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5. Make it integrated. PR plans should go beyond traditional media—even if you’re only seeking to secure coverage. Our job is to show how our strategy dovetails with the larger marketing mix. PR plans should illustrate an idea executed across earned, paid, owned and social media to bring an integrated message to life.
6. Create a realistic timeline. Assign months and weeks for when you plan to start each initiative—including when proactive pitches will go to media outlets. Your timeline should consider internal events, such as product launches or other marketing campaigns, and external events. (The week of SXSW is not the best time to release news if your media contacts will be preoccupied.) When the timeline is finalized, your team can use it to organize weekly tasks and update clients.
7. Include aggressive measurement. How can you gauge success? Consider measuring your impact on traffic, content downloads, engagement on social channels, progress with influencers and lead conversions.
In public relations, there’s a lot we can’t anticipate or predict. However, having a thorough planning process—including the creation of a comprehensive PR plan—is an important step toward delivering on the client’s expectations.
A version of this article first appeared on the Shift Communications blog.