Guest post by Georgina Dunkley (learn more about Georgina at the end of this post).
Implementing an effective PR strategy, particularly for any start-up business or company which has little or no experience handling communications, may seem a daunting task, but as we all shake off the apathy of returning to work and prepare for a successful 2012 in the spotlight, I have developed a series of PR top tips.
Make time to plan – having the best of intentions and an enthusiasm to get started is all well and good, but without effective planning and thought, your PR outreach will be inconsistent, not on message and lacking clarity. Developing a strategy doesn’t need to be a long drawn out process, it just needs to include a clear breakdown of what the main aims and objectives of the activity are and how the proposed PR activity will help meet those objectives. Who you want to reach out to and what you want to say to them in addition to the mechanics to do this are also vital, so incorporate target audiences and media, key messages and tactics.
Be realistic – when it comes to PR it is very easy to get over enthused and plan in lots of outreach, be it the draft and issue of press releases, media briefings, event attendance or speaker opportunities, but remember all of these things take time, so realistically consider how long each of these tasks take and which of them are priorities. It will be much more beneficial in the long term to do one thing well each month instead of lots of little things which are rushed and not seen through to their full potential. PR is about building a brand or profile over time so a steady drip feed of interesting and relevant news over a long period of time is likely to be more impactful than lots of little infrequent bursts of activity.
Consider your objectives – having a clear goal in mind when planning PR activity is essential, so identify what your business objectives are and how PR should be aligned to help you meet them. For example if your long term objective is to successfully exit and sell on your business but the short term one is to encourage people to buy and use your services, there are two quite clear and separate roles for the PR to undertake. The first is to raise the profile of your goods or service to the people who might be interested in buying it. The second is to make your business an exciting investment proposition to influencers, peers and investors in your sector. Both will need to be targeted with different key messages and although sometimes overlapping, normally through different media.
Who are you talking to and what are you saying – identifying your key audiences and messages is the lifeblood of any successful PR strategy, often bringing with it a lot of soul searching and ego squashing. Any passionate business leader, be it a senior executive or entrepreneur, generally believes that their business or product is worthy of national acclaim and as such should be spread across the national print and broadcast media. When it comes to successfully executing a PR strategy however there is an important element of reality checking to undertake. If you are a local hairdresser and you are looking to attract people who live within a 20 mile radius, embarking on a full-throttle national media relations campaign would not only be unlikely to be viewed to the people you are actually trying to entice into your salon, but it is unlikely that the national media will be interested in taking your news. Ensure that the media your target is relevant to the audience that you want to speak to and that you are sharing news with them that they want to hear.
Integrate a monthly working plan – creating an overarching strategy which illustrates the clear mission of the PR over a specific timeframe is essential, but on a day-to-day basis a more user-friendly working plan needs to be incorporated to break down the monthly tactics and deadlines. Again, this doesn’t need to be an exhaustive document, just a simple table outlining that month’s activity e.g. one press briefing with a tier one target media or planning and attendance at a trade show.
Continually evaluate and amend – sometimes things don’t always go to plan and what may seem like an excellent idea during the planning stage may have lost its appeal by the time it comes to roll it out, so take time to continually evaluate the success of campaigns and monitor the news agenda both in your sector and in the wider business world to see what impact it could have on your outreach. A story about an intake of new employees and series of job openings at your firm might work as an impressive ‘bucking the trend’ story when others news around the time may not be quite as optimistic.
Georgina Dunkley is a PR account director at Punch Communications, a leading integrated PR, SEO and social media agency. With over nine years’ experience in the industry she has extensive experience handling projects across a broad spectrum of sectors including technology, business-to-business and business-to-consumer. A media relations expert, she also handles strategy planning, crisis management and investor relations for a number of her clients. For more information visit http://www.punchcomms.com/, follow http://twitter.com/punchcomms, + https://plus.google.com/114373547150700086909?prsrc=3 or like http://www.facebook.com/punchcommunications.