For startups in the initial stages of businesses, having an effective PR plan is necessary to capture attention from media professionals as well as their target audience. Startups which fail to plan are doomed to fail. While many companies may understand the importance of having a plan and spend a lot of time and money coming up with this plan, proper execution is still crucial for success.
Many elements go into creating a PR strategy which can win valuable media coverage, build brand awareness, earn trust with the target audience, get customers engaged and excited, and keep the brand ahead of the competition. A good PR strategy should also position the brand as a thought leader in their industry, and be the foundation of any crisis communication.
In this article, we will look at:
- The Benefits of Strategic Planning
- What is a PR plan
- How to Create an Effective PR Strategy
The Benefits of Strategic Planning
In a startup’s overall business strategy, strategic planning has many benefits when done correctly. Along with raising capital through their overall strategy, it is equally essential for startups to have a PR strategy in place. This is because good PR can help with investors, increase backlinks to their owned media, increase brand awareness, and help companies set themselves apart from their competition.
Let us now look at some benefits that strategic planning can have on a startup’s PR strategy and overall business strategy.
1) Allows organizations to be proactive rather than reactive
Having a strategic plan allows startups to foresee their future and plan accordingly. They can be more proactive with their efforts rather than reacting to unforeseen situations, anticipate specific scenarios that can be considered unfavourable before they happen, and take the necessary precautions to avoid them. It also allows startups to keep up with the ever-changing trends in their industry and always stay one step ahead of their competition.
2) Sets up a sense of direction
A strategic plan can help startups define the direction they want to go in and helps them to establish realistic objectives and goals that are in line with the vision and mission of the startup. It offers a much-needed foundation from which a company can grow, develop its PR strategy, evaluate its success, compensate its employees and establish guidelines for efficient decision-making. From a PR standpoint, having a consistent public relations strategy is like having a roadmap for success. A well-thought plan also gives startups the possibility to try new marketing tactics and allows the head-space and time required to get creative. It can also help align a startup’s functional activities to achieve set goals and increase operational efficiency.
4) Provides credibility
A company’s overall business strategy and the use of effective PR allow startups to nurture and guide their audience and the general public’s perception of their business and brand. If potential and existing clients see positive information about a company, the business will gain credibility. In a social media-driven landscape, startups that use PR can establish themselves as thought-leaders and experts in their industry. A thought-leader is someone who is perceived by a large number of followers as the go-to expert of any information that pertains to their industry. Once people trust you as a source of information, it’s only a matter of time before they start purchasing your products.
5) Helps increase market share and profitability
Having a strategic plan does not just help generate sales; it also allows startups to gain valuable insights on market trends, consumer segments, and product and service offerings that might affect their success. Turning all sales and marketing efforts into the best possible outcomes can help startups increase profitability and market share.
6) Can make a business more durable
The public relations industry has been around for a long time. In fact, the industry is always adapting to ned technology and emerging trends to stay relevant.The shift towards digital PR combines SEO with a longer-term PR approach. Given the current landscape of an overly saturated market, a business may be profitable one year and in debt the next. Especially for startups that have not yet established themselves in their industry, it can be challenging to generate interest unless they use P.R. With constantly changing sectors and world markets, organizations that do not have a strong PR foundation driven by focus and foresight will fail to get noticed.
What is a PR plan
By definition, a PR plan is something that companies create to outline how they will interact with journalists, media professionals, audiences, and stakeholders for a continuous period. An effectively PR plan should provide details of the stories the startup plans to tell as well as the content they plan to create. This plan should include strategic placements of the brand’s key messages, and identify the channels that a company’s target audience trusts and uses to consume information. Additionally, it’s important to schedule how and when to pitch stories to media professionals and their audience so that they can generate maximum impact for the startup.
In order to develop a successful PR plan, the stories a startup is telling should be newsworthy. In other words, the news being shared should be relevant to media professionals and audiences. Whether they are pitching stories to the media, trying to get a story out to social influencers, or sharing it on their social media, if a startup’s content is not newsworthy, it will not generate engagement.
How to Create an Effective PR Strategy
1) Analyze previous PR efforts
Before startups develop their next PR strategy and campaign, they need to look at previous media coverage surrounding their business and competitors. For starters, this analysis needs to identify the kind of coverage they previously received. Beyond that, it’s important to take note of whether past media attention had a positive or negative impact on the company.
Research plays a huge role in the planning process; it helps companies to understand their target audience and keep an eye out for the competition. While this may seem like something that can be done during the campaign process, initially understanding the people that the company is trying to reach will save time and money in the long run. With this understanding, companies can tailor their campaign more effectively to their audience’s wants and needs.
2) Define PR goals
As mentioned before, many startups go into PR prematurely, which means that they have not fully identified their goals and their intentions for their business. Identifying goals before creating content gives startups a clear path to follow and sets them in the right direction. Usually, PR goals can be narrowed down to the following: increasing qualified website visitors, attracting new customers, building brand awareness, and establishing thought leadership. Once the goals have been clearly outlined, a startup can build a coherent and relatable message for its target audience. The message should highlight what the company wants people to remember about the business, why people should care about the message, and the unique features which give the startup an edge over its competition.
There needs to be a clear objective of what the company wants to achieve and how they will measure success. By creating SMART objectives, companies have an easy way of defining the right goals and objectives for their company.
- Specific – whether the goal is clearly defined
- Measurable – how performance will be measured
- Attainable – whether it is a reasonable goal
- Relevant – how realistic is the set goal
- Time-constrained – whether there are clear deadlines
3) Consider target audience & strategize how to reach them
Before startups can even think about creating their messaging and connecting with media professionals, they need to figure out who their target audience is. They first need to understand the needs and interests of their target buyers so that they can tailor their content, PR strategy, product development, and services to their consumers and gain better visibility. Startups can achieve this by creating buyer personas. These are profiles and representations of a company’s ideal customer based on data research that helps them focus their time on qualified prospects, guide product development to fit the needs primarily of their target customers, and align their marketing efforts. Through this process, companies can attract high-value visitors, leads, and customers that will likely remain loyal to the company’s products or service.
Customers like knowing that their specific wants and needs are catered for and that companies have taken the time to find out what they want. Depending on what type of business it may be, there might be multiple buyer personas. Be that as it may, the one thing that remains constant is that all profiles should be based on market research and insights that companies have gathered from their actual target customer base and be as developed and detailed as possible. The data collected should include customers’ buying habits, what type of calls-to-action they respond to, and what information they provide through in-depth surveys to analyze what consumers click on most while visiting a company’s website or social media.
Buyer personas are great for PR purposes because they are easy to change. Data that may have been important in a previous buyer persona may not be applicable if trends are constantly changing. PR thrives on those types of situations where circumstances can go through minor to severe changes in a matter of hours, so having buyer personas is a crucial part of any PR and marketing strategy just in case there are any significant changes. When choosing a product or service, people usually gravitate towards businesses that they know and trust. Creating buyer personas also builds trust to show genuine understanding and concern about what the company wants to project about their business and what the customer needs.
4) Consider macro and microenvironments
Along the same lines as the previous point, when planning their PR campaign, startups need to analyze their surrounding conditions, described as their macro and microenvironments. Macro environments can be described as major external and possibly uncontrollable factors that influence a startup’s decision-making and affect its performance and strategies. Some elements included in macro environments include economic factors; demographics; legal, political, and social conditions; technological changes; and natural forces. Startups need to analyze their macroenvironment because it affects the way people view the brand.
Secondly, they need to evaluate their microenvironment, which are factors or elements in an organization’s immediate area of operations that can affect its performance and decision-making freedom. Those factors can include competitors, customers, distribution channels, suppliers, and the general public. A startup’s microenvironment has a direct impact on the company.
5) Create essential messaging/P.R. process and execution
After getting a complete understanding of their environment, identifying their target audience, and formulating their PR goals, startups need to clarify their messaging. Their brand message should be the core of any PR campaign and should answer what the startup wants people to know about them, what their mission statement needs, and what sets them apart from the competition. Once they create their critical messaging, they can create content distributed on their channels to media professionals and the general public.
Content like email pitches, press releases, guest posts, press kits is the exact kind of content that startups should create to gain visibility from media professionals and the general public. Even so, it is not just about creating content. A good PR strategy also outlines the best way to distribute this information. Usually, companies will have a PR team to get this process going, but startups with limited budgets may not be able to afford an in-house PR specialist. It is for this reason that PR agencies like Pressfarm exist. Pressfarm has vast experience helping startups create quality content at an affordable rate. The experts at Pressfarm have experience working with companies of various sizes to create quality content that can be distributed on their owned channels. In addition to this, Pressfarm matches brands with the best journalists in their niche through personalized media lists, in addition to doing guest posting for startups. Clients also have access to an extensive PR database where they can connect with over 75,000 journalists across industries. While distribution of content and generating publicity might take time, Pressfarm’s PR services will eventually boost your brand’s online visibility by helping you feature in relevant search results across search engines.
As mentioned previously, figuring out what channels a startup needs to use for its PR strategy means getting to know the target audience well. While some businesses may generate better results by posting on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media channels, others might appeal to a broader selection of the right audience through more professional forums.
7) Measure results
Finally, once the PR plan has been executed, it’s important to measure the success. Usually, the best PR plans are ones that produce both quantitative and qualitative data to measure success. By measuring share and tone of voice, startups can analyze how they stack up against their competition. This data enables startups to see how effective their PR efforts have been in raising awareness and influencing the conversation about the brand.
In terms of PR, the share of voice refers to the percentage of all online, print, and broadcast coverage and conversations that a startup has secured compared to its competitors. They can use monitoring tools to keep on top of media coverage to the best of their ability. The tone of voice is another way that startups can measure how the brand is presented within the media. By making a list of keywords or phrases used by the startup and people talking about it, they can keep track of how often they appear. Along with the qualitative data of their Tone of Voice assessment, startups can monitor their brand perception. They can review their overall positioning of the brand by identifying whether there has been any change in how the brand is viewed by target audiences, how their key messages were received and what response they got.
With strategic planning and an effective PR campaign, startups can create a positive public perception and get the right media professionals to distribute their message. By having a comprehensive understanding of their target audience, their environment, and distribution processes, startups can create a public relations plan that will help them effectively meet their goals. As the business continues to grow, it can adapt its plan to satisfy its needs as well as the needs of its consumers. If startups need help creating a PR plan and all the content that goes along with it, they can seek the advice of PR professionals who have experience in this field.