Digging in: the importance of developing a PR strategy
Every business or organization has a unique story to tell, and oftentimes a strong public relations, or PR, strategy is undervalued as one of the tools to share it. Developing strategic PR is crucial for creating brand awareness and promoting engaging content that consumers actually want to read. But let’s start with the basics of what a PR strategy is, why you need it, and how you can create one. You can also get a copy of our free ebook: "Setting Up a PR Plan".
What is a PR strategy?
A PR strategy is used to help your business organize its public relations (or media relations) activities and make strategic decisions about the best way to communicate with its target audience. The development and implementation of a PR strategy can assist brands in not only generating interest from the press in their products or services but also help to organize the many stories brands have that resonate with their diverse audiences. If a strategy is implemented well, it will serve as a tool to help manage the public perception of an organization.
Why is it important?
PR or “earned media” can be used to drive website traffic, engage and connect with target audiences, make connections within the community, and promote brands in a more organic way that people trust. Utilizing media outlets in this way is important for attracting more potential customers or clients while creating brand awareness.
And, with a solid PR strategy in place, business goals and activities are easier to share with target audiences. The strategy directs [an often multichannel] approach to communicating the main message, which assists in maximizing efforts and generating awareness. This influences branding and marketing as well as an organization’s perception during a crisis because brands that succeed in sharing their goals and wins on a regular basis are more likely to be seen in a positive light even when experiencing a setback.
So, how do you create a strategy?
Ultimately, a PR strategy is created through storytelling. This is your chance to tell your audience about who you are, what you do, and why you should matter to them. Every story should lead back to the “why” of your business. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why should people care? After considering your “why”, the most important thing to do is to set your end goal.
1. Start with a goal
Initiating a PR strategy without the end game in mind can be problematic, especially for sales-driven companies with very tangible quarterly and annual revenue goals. These goals can be quantitative or qualitative in nature, depending on what is the most reasonable way to measure your success.
Regardless of the nature of the goal, keep in mind it should be specific, measurable and assign a deadline for evaluation. A popular goal-setting equation to consider is “To get from ________ to ________ by ________ (date).”
2. Confirm audiences
Different audiences tend to spend time in different places. Consider the target audience for Brand A, a popular coffee shop predominantly found in college towns across the United States. Brand A focuses their PR efforts with online media like BuzzFeed because it is targeting college-age men and women who spend the majority of their free time on their mobile device. By confirming the audience, PR pros can better identify targeted media outlets, which will pave the way for more targeted pitches and interesting stories to share.
3. Tell a compelling story
With the audience and targeted media outlets defined, communicators can more easily determine [and share!] the brand’s story. The story should include key messages that are tied back to the brand’s values and mission as well as to the reputation the brand either already has or aspires to achieve through the PR strategy. Consider building a newsroom that incorporates each of the key messages for the target audience into bite-sized or easy to skim articles with the intention of capturing website visitors and encouraging longer website visits and multiple page views.
Remember, it’s not enough to say who or what the brand is, but the brand must act on its assertions and live out its values outside of articles and news releases. When the sentiment of an article is mirrored on ratings and reviews or social updates, it begins to become truth in the eyes of the consumer. In general, consumers can tell when brands are not authentic or do not live up to their brand values. So, put your money where your mouth is and be who you say you are — or expect to be outed on social media faster than you can tweet an apology.
4. Get creative
Today’s consumer receives their news and content from a multitude of sources including social media, blogs, and podcasts. A good PR strategy extends beyond the reach of traditional journalism and courts target audiences where they are already going to get their information.
But, at its heart, a solid PR strategy still relies on the development of relationships between the PR pro (brand voice) and the media contact (amplifier). Whether working with a small market fashion blogger or a reporter from The New York Times, a good relationship can make the difference between reading an email or clicking delete.