As an award-winning B2B PR agency, we believe that PR in the digital era is about so much more than hijacking news stories or providing opportunistic comments to help rushed journalists meet their deadlines. In fact, we believe that your public relations strategy should be just that – a strategy. And that means it should be designed to meet specific objectives.
It’s worth pointing out that PR isn’t the answer to every business challenge. Sometimes, you need more than PR – such as SEO, content or inbound marketing – to reach your objectives.
You can’t build a successful PR strategy until you know why you’re doing it. Your PR objectives could be anything from generating leads to raising your profile or attracting talent or raising finance. Whatever they are, they need to be clear, realistic and achievable through PR.
Defining your audience
Once you’ve established that you do need PR, the next step in defining your PR strategy is to understand who it is you are trying to influence – and what you want to persuade them to do. Persona research is a critical element of any PR strategy – and good persona research should include an analysis of which media channels this audience prefers.
Understanding the context
No business runs in a vacuum, and any good PR strategy should take into consideration the environment, including what your competitors are doing, the wider political landscape, major industry events in the calendar and anything else that’s going to affect your target audience.
Analysing the media
It’s never as simple as creating a great story, taking it to journalists, and sitting back waiting for it to be published. Each outlet has its own agenda. Each editor has their own schedule. Each journalist has their own pressures and deadlines and areas of interest. Building a successful PR strategy will require understanding all of these nuances.
Developing your stories
We believe in content with a purpose. That means that when it comes to generating media stories for PR campaigns, we recommend that you focus on stories that will support your PR objectives. These purposes might include building links back to your website; ranking in search engines for a key search term; or providing a piece of third party endorsement that your sales team can leverage.
Choosing your tactics
PR tactics could include anything from sending out a news release to conducting a survey, building an index, setting up a stunt, creating a photo story, pitching thought leadership pieces to the media, entering awards or meeting with analysts. Your choice of tactics should be based on your PR goals, the stories you’ve developed and your audience and media analysis.
Building out your plan
Once you’ve followed all the steps mentioned above, it’s time to build out your PR plan. This is where you decide which stories and tactics to use and when. Timing is critical, so it’s important that you coordinate each activity carefully with key dates in your industry calendar and with the editorial agenda of your target media. Once completed, your plan is your roadmap of activity for the year (but it should be flexible enough to adapt to the unexpected).
A successful PR strategy needs to be measured against your objectives. We like to measure monthly, and analyse results, so that we can amend the strategy accordingly and ensure ever-increasing returns.
The best PR strategies often draw on a combination of marketing disciplines in creative ways to help businesses achieve their goals. But they’re also flexible. Every one of them will be measurable against KPIs selected to show how well the strategy is performing. If it’s not working, or the opposite is true and part of the strategy proves to be sensationally standalone effective, then your agency should be ready to adapt the strategy in response.