“If you fail to plan, plan to fail!’
It’s an oldie but goodie and totally relevant when it comes to PR. Whether yours is a multi million dollar corporation with headquarters in major cities around the world, or a one person shop in small town anywhere, everyone can benefit from a clear and concise PR plan. In fact, failure to do so can result in loss in productivity, profits and personnel.
Here are six surefire tips to get your PR plan up and running today.
- Brainstorm – To help you get started on the right foot, consider hosting a jam session to collect thoughts, ideas and input. If you work with a team, pick up a few snacks and book an hour for a good old fashioned brainstorm. It’s worth it! Two, three or four brains are always better than one. I will caution though, if the group gets too large, you risk getting off topic and wasting valuable time. Keep it to a group of experts who understand PR, communications and social media. Tools that can help you in this process include mind or concept mapping, vision boards or an ideas journal you can refer back to. And when you’re ready to start building your plan, make sure you use an organizing tool to ensure you hit important milestones and deadlines.
- SWOT Analysis – While I don’t recommend skipping the brainstorm stage, some practitioners choose to start their planning with a SWOT Analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis will help you get real with yourself about the perimetres of your project. Defining these four characteristics will allow you to understand where you should be investing your time and resources to yield the best results. A final piece of advice on the SWOT Analysis, make sure to speak with all the right people to gather important information. In today’s ‘connected’ world, it’s easy to skip the one-on-one face time. Never underestimate the power of in-person meetings with people who can offer valuable insights. A dedicated meeting with each important stakeholder can save your team valuable time because you won’t have to wait to receive a response to an email or phone call.
- Must-haves – Once you’ve completed the research, it’s time to get down to business! A well thought out PR plan should always include objectives, audiences, strategy, tactics, measurement and budget. This is the best way to ensure your project is on track at every milestone. The objective will define the overall mission statement for the plan. Nailing down your audience will help you figure out the voice you want to use and the messages you wish to convey. The strategy outlines the broader goals of the project while tactics convey the specific activities that will be carried out to ensure the broader goals are met. If your organization is like most, tracking the success of your PR plan is key. In order to properly do this you must set measurement indicators. Finally, knowing the budget you are working with will save you time and help you focus your attention on creating a plan that caters to each client’s needs while ensuring budget targets are met.
- Key messages – I like to include a key messages section in my PR plan because it ensures that the message about the plan will be seamless, regardless of who is delivering it. This also helps to better define the objective. To help me with this process, I use the rule of threes. Come up with three messages you would want to convey. Make sure each message is no longer than a sentence. Then, break each of the three messages into their own sets of three messages, again, no longer than a sentence each. This is a great way to ensure spokespeople stay on topic.
- Editorial calendars – Towards the end of each calendar year, magazine publications issue editorial calendars. These calendars provide a breakdown of content themes for the following year. Themes include holidays, food and healthy living issues, among others. Since most magazine publications work months in advance on their issues, editorial calendars are a useful tool for PR professionals when creating a plan.
- Social and digital media – You would think that these days, it would be a given that social and digital media is part of the plan. The truth is, too many companies view social and digital media as an afterthought, a nuisance, a here-today-gone-tomorrow fad. That’s simply not the case. Social and digital media give companies a whole new platform to share their stories and what the company is up to. These days, if your PR plan does not include a social and digital component, it’s not complete.