7 Steps to Building a Winning PR Strategy from Scratch
Have you ever wondered if there's more to growing your business than just marketing and advertising? What about Public Relations? Often referred to as "earned media" or strategic communications, PR is the missing piece that can tie your marketing and advertising efforts together. It's the secret sauce that can ignite their effectiveness, boosting brand recognition and customer loyalty.
While businesses pour thousands of dollars each month into marketing and advertising, they often neglect the undervalued tool of PR. But fear not! Starting a PR strategy from scratch doesn't have to be overwhelming. It's about organizing and utilizing the tools you already have with intention and consistency. But where do you even begin? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Here are seven essential steps to crafting a killer PR strategy that will put your business on the map. So, let’s jump right in!
Get a Clear Picture of Your Marketing and Advertising Expenditures and Strategies
To begin with, it's essential to gain a clear and concise picture of how your money and resources are already being allocated across your various marketing and advertising endeavors. Don't be surprised if you discover hidden inefficiencies that are hindering your growth. It's vital to review your approach regularly, and there's never any harm in doing so. Before delving into Public Relations, take the time to evaluate how your company's financial and human resources are distributed across your marketing and advertising platforms. Are there areas that require pruning because they're not producing the desired results? Once you've tightened up your current strategies, you'll be ready to delve into the new conversation of integrating Public Relations.
Outline Your Goals
A good strategy starts with a set of clear and well-defined goals rooted in sound research. So, kick off the process by reflecting on the gaps that can only be resolved by Public Relations. Although marketing and advertising are valuable in their unique capacities, they may not fully address problems such as community outreach, public perception, earned media, brand reputation, and crisis communication. So, take note of which story pitches garnered the most interest, which media outlets and writers were most receptive, and which types of content generated the most buzz on social media.
Once you've gathered this data, set your goals for the upcoming year. Are you seeking to expand your customer base, enhance brand recognition, elevate your reputation, or introduce new product lines? Ensure that your objectives align with your broader business plan. By doing so, you'll be well on your way to building a targeted and impactful PR strategy.
Set a Practical Budget and Timeline Aligned With Your Objectives
Now you know what you expect to accomplish with PR in your business. So the next step is to come up with a realistic budget and timeline to achieve these goals. Begin by evaluating your current marketing and advertising investments and their returns. Then, consider the potential benefits of Public Relations, such as improved reputation, media coverage, crisis management, and personal peace of mind. Ensure that the budget you allocate for Public Relations corresponds to the expected value it will provide. While it may not be as straightforward as pricing a billboard or a drip email campaign, the benefits of PR can be the catalyst that propels your business to new heights.
Similarly, PR success doesn't happen overnight, and setting realistic timelines is essential. Building a robust PR foundation takes time and effort, much like constructing a building. Investing in your PR strategy for at least a year provides a stable base to identify trends and measure progress. Quitting before that period is akin to halting construction before completion, with considerable investment but no finished outcome. So, stay committed and patient to attain long-lasting success.
Turn Your Existing Assets into PR Gold
Chances are, you've already got a treasure trove of tools at your disposal that can be repurposed to help with your Public Relations efforts. Does your business engage with the local community or contribute to charitable causes? Have you established any media connections through your marketing and advertising endeavors? These are valuable resources that a skilled PR professional can leverage strategically to generate greater recognition for your commendable work. It is worth noting that these opportunities already exist behind the scenes, and PR provides the opportunity to showcase them in the spotlight. The best part? These readily available resources can generate fast results if you know how to capitalize on them effectively.
Devise a Clear Tangible Strategy
Developing a clear and solid action plan is essential for effective Public Relations. However, many businesses often get lost in a sea of great ideas and conversations that lack a clear direction. This is often due to the mistaken belief that a strategy must be overly complex and full of fluff. This misconception often leads to unrealistic and impractical plans that fail to deliver results. So, the key here is to create a strategy that aligns with your budget, timeline, and available resources. Sure, it can be as simple as a to-do list to get started. Don't let the term "strategy" intimidate you. By breaking it down into bite-sized actions assigned to specific individuals with set deadlines, the process becomes far less daunting.
Bring Together a Dedicated Team
Even with great ideas, your efforts will falter if no one in your organization has the passion or resources to execute them. If you find yourself in a strategy meeting surrounded by blank or apprehensive faces, it's a sign that you need a skilled leader to guide and assign roles. So, find out your PR champions. If you happen to have an in-house graphic design wizard, a wordsmith with a knack for humor, or a shutterbug with a keen eye for visuals, enlist them in your team. They can help elevate the impact of your messaging, offer valuable input, and aid in disseminating your messages.
Track your Outcome
When it comes to PR, it's all about the numbers. So, you need to track everything from social media reach to website traffic, and document every last bit of media coverage. Then, it's time to roll up your sleeves and dive into the data to see what's working and what's not. Think of your PR initiative as a garden that needs constant tending. Just like a new seedling, it requires consistent and intentional oversight and maintenance to bloom into something beautiful. You've already planted the seed with your strategy, now it's time to make sure everyone on your team is pulling their weight and hitting deadlines. Just like you keep tabs on your marketing and advertising, you need to stay on top of your PR game too.
So, take a page out of your marketing and advertising strategies playbook and schedule regular team meetings where you're all on the same page. Assign someone to be the captain of the ship, keeping an accurate and updated agenda and leading the meeting. And when it comes to measuring success, focus on what you can control – your effort. While you can't always control outcomes, you can always control the effort you put in.
And there you have it! Armed with these seven essential steps, you're ready to take the PR world by storm. But remember building a successful PR strategy isn't just about following a formula. It's about being creative, resourceful, and adaptable. So, as you embark on this new adventure, don't forget to stay curious, stay inspired, and above all, stay true to yourself and your brand. With hard work, willpower, and a little bit of luck, the sky's the limit. Happy PR-ing!