Developing a PR Strategy: Your Success Guide
See the steps you should take when building a solid PR strategy.
Looking to grab some of that media action? Everyone is. So it has never been more important to take the right steps with your PR to ensure you get coverage.
First things first: get your PR strategy in order, then focus on pitching. Without clear goals and actions, your outreach efforts will go to waste. (Which is also why we made this free & downloadable pitching strategy pack.)
The world of PR is rife with spray-n-pray pitching which generates no results, confusion, and a lot of resentment. This is almost always due to a lack of strategy and focus.
So, without further ado, we bring you the...
As with any strategy, there needs to be an end-game or goal that explains why you have been running PR activities.
So work SMART by focusing on being:
- and Timely
For example, imagine you are sitting on a bunch of unstructured data. If you can take that data and find a creative way to showcase it, like say, in a ranking format, you can stand out.
You now want to promote the data, your company, and the rankings in time for a specific industry event. This is your SMART-based PR goal. The end-game is to get as much coverage as possible and to educate your stakeholders.
Having a good understanding of your stakeholders is step 1 to a successful strategy and successful PR. Not every stakeholder is equal, nor do they care about the same things. If you don’t think you do or aren’t sure, then you need to start talking to people now.
This will make things easier when trying to create specific messaging.
Examples of things you should know about your stakeholders (this should also be a key part of your crisis communication plan):
- Their business interests
- Their personal interests
- How they consume media
- Where and when they consume media
Once you know these details, you can focus on developing media relations within those publications and media outlets that will really serve them.
When you have a list of target publishers try to get your hands on the editorial/features calendar. This is a schedule of upcoming features which makes it far easier to align your pitch with their needs.
Spend as much time as possible understanding your stakeholders and target audience.
Understanding what makes your audience tick will make amplification of coverage easier. Paid and owned media are two great ways to drive more coverage – check out this guide.
There can be situations where your target audience does not actually consume traditional industry media. By all means, this is not uncommon. If you fall into this then spend time understanding what content they post on social media.
This will give you an idea of what sort of content works for them and drives engagement. Look to customize messaging for specific stakeholders, the tone and details will contrast.
This is the core of what you want your target audience to hear and understand. Your key messaging needs to fall into the criteria of:
- Being believable
- Easy to understand
- On brand
- and focused on your company goals
Double-check if your internal stakeholders are happy with the messaging. This will be visible across all media so it needs to tick all the right boxes as well as send the right message.
Also, key messaging will change depending on the campaign and focus of the strategy. Repeat this messaging exercise each time you run a new strategy so there is no misalignment.
PR is more than sending out a press release to a bunch of journalists and hoping for the best. To have a memorable brand and messaging you need to use various tactics, not only PR. Work on unifying your channels to understand the reach and success of your campaigns.
A great way to start is to use tools that integrate different parts of your workflow into one piece of trackable and collaborative software – that's right, just like Prezly. Find out how with a no-commitment demo.
A basic and personalised media pitch with a press release to your media contacts is a very positive start. You should then consider hosting your press release, that you sent with your pitch, online. Online newsrooms, for example, are great for archived press releases and accessibility.
Once your press release is accessible and online start to focus on amplification. By using owned media alongside paid channels you can target your stakeholders. Your stakeholders will be more aware of your campaign than they would be if you hadn't boosted the update.
For low-hanging opportunities, create and schedule all press releases alongside editorial calendars. This would be the 'easiest' way to gain coverage, be sure to do your research though! Industry events or internal deadlines will dictate the rest of your schedule.
PR success is a tricky beast to tame. With today's access to data, we like to have easy access to it. This allows us to understand what is working and what is not. PR metrics have had a hard time being quantified to match up with general business goals.
With publishers not giving you web-based data for any coverage you get. And, major newspapers rarely giving out active links to your site. This makes it difficult to quantify 'success' even though for many of us it is impressions or referrals.
What do you do to measure success? Since AVE is rarely useful thanks to it’s wild estimations there needs to be a new measure.
Below are some alternatives to AVE. Instead try to combine them all to gather data-backed insight into the success of a campaign.
- Press Clippings: These are direct mentions in the media so it's vital to any campaign.
- Site Sessions: Check if there have been any increases in daily new users or sessions. (Published time onwards will be the sweet spot).
- Social Media: Check for increases in engagement or new followers.
These are by all means not conclusive and I would say that you need to spend time on figuring your metrics out. Partnering with the IT team or whoever manages analytics can be a fruitful endeavour. They will understand what is going on in the back of the website, enough to see any changes.
PR strategy takes time and patience. It also needs testing and a serious understanding of your stakeholders. Delivering the right messaging to the right people will make or break the campaign. Media relations also needs a huge focus too – without it you run the risk of stonewalling yourself on each pitch.
One last note: Don't forget about the crisis communication plan so you can plan well ahead incase disaster strikes. Trust me, it happens big and small more than you think.