While Public Relations has finally been recognised as an important arm of any business organisation, it is unfortunate that many organisations choose to take PR as a random and need-based activity. PR needs to be taken as a serious profession and every organisation must go about it strategically.
It is imperative to formulate an effective PR strategy to achieve desirable results. First and foremost, a company’s business objectives must be identified to be used as a basis to develop key media messages. These messages form the basis for the annual communication.
To begin with, previous year’s PR activity should be analysed. Check out the pitches that resulted in positive coverage. Take note of the journalists who reported in favor and who didn’t. Assess the results of the campaigns and draw a comparison with competitors.
Now, review the current year’s PR plan. Identify potential media opportunities such as product launches, expansion activities, new service offerings, major announcements, and develop a calendar of events. Plan out a press release calendar for the entire year.
The essence of PR is pitching to reporters, placing articles and a solid media list. Hence, it is significant to carefully research and build a database of key reporters. Media houses have their editorial calendars that offer an excellent vehicle for planning media exposure. A PR resource can utilise this to contribute a relevant story. Most editorial outlets have deadlines months ahead of the publication dates hence a PR resource must pay careful attention to the closing dates lest the opportunity gets lost.
Contributed articles are a great medium to get recognition as an expert. PR resource must research magazines, newspapers and websites to find those outlets that are open to such articles, then contact the editor to propose a topic. The article should be in sync with the business objectives and must contain key messages.
Media gives a lot of value to case studies as they offer a tangible, real-world example of the product or service. So work on some case studies with the respective clients’ participation. Continue to look for speaking opportunities for the top management of an organisation as these offer another avenue for generating exposure. This can be done at the time of planning the PR calendar by the way of researching conferences, trade shows and webinars for opportunities to nominate a keynote speaker or a member of a panel discussion. The value in securing such engagements can be tremendous, especially for a growing business. However, this also requires careful planning because most speaking opportunities are finalised several months in advance.
In the current scenario, blogs and social media have grown in popularity as communications tools because they offer a way to have an active discussion with a motivated audience. These better not be ignored. When considering PR tactics, don’t forget to research the blogs that relate to the specific industry and get to know the styles and personalities of their authors.
Crisis planning is also an essential part of an organisation’s PR plan. This should include all possible negative scenarios and the appropriate responses to them. Ensure that all members of the business organisation are aware of crisis procedures, and take time to do a test run to help iron out any inconsistencies or loopholes in the strategy.
Overall, a strategic PR plan not only helps generate new ideas and opportunities for a business to shine, it also gives peace of mind in day-to-day operations. While PR plans are always subject to change, planning ahead enables a PR professional to adhere to overall goals and maintain focus.