A public relations strategy will help you create a consistent and positive brand image among your target audience. While developing an effective strategy might seem like a daunting process, it’s actually very straightforward. In fact, we’ve summed it up in 9 simple steps.
Before we get into what it takes to build a good public relations strategy, let’s talk about what it is.
What is a public relations strategy?
A public relations strategy is a detailed plan outlining how you will use your business network and resources to achieve your goals.
Ultimately, a comprehensive strategy should consist of different parts which come together to present your company in a positive light. A good strategy should combine all your PR efforts – including media outreach, blogging and social media – to create a good impression of your brand.
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Why do you need a public relations strategy?
Sitting down to develop a strategy might seem like an ineffective use of time. On the contrary, a good PR strategy will benefit your brand in many ways.
Building a PR strategy helps you to:
Creating a comprehensive strategy before you launch a PR campaign helps you to focus on the end goal. When you build a strategy from scratch, it’s easier to make decisions. This is because you know what you’re working towards. In addition, when you already have a strategy in place, you can make decisions which complement that strategy. Ultimately, doing things which complement your strategy will increase your chances of success.
Reach your target audience
Thinking through your public relations and marketing strategy helps you to build a buyer persona and understand who your target audience is. If you know your target audience, then you can also figure out where to find them when you’re ready with your PR campaign. Creating the perfect campaign is a waste of time if your target audience can’t see it. Taking time to draw an audience profile before you launch a campaign will result in less wasted time and effort.
Build brand awareness
An effective public relations strategy will increase awareness of your brand. Effective public relations generates good publicity. Creating a lasting memorable image for your brand is good news for you. If more people know and remember your brand story, then you will gain more clients in the long run.
Public relations is cheaper than traditional marketing. Beyond being cheaper, it is also more effective. Good PR is more credible than an advertising campaign. For this reason, people will trust your brand more if you use a public relations strategy.
In other words, a PR strategy should help you achieve your marketing objectives at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.
So how do you build a public relations strategy?
1) Identify your goals
Before you develop a public relations strategy, you need to outline your goals. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, then you will end up building an unfocused strategy.
Do you want to grow your audience? Do you want to build a memorable brand image? Highlighting these goals will help you in the future.
Sit down with your team and agree on your public relations goals. This way, everyone will be on the same page, working towards the same goals.
2) Know your audience
A big part of any successful public relations strategy includes knowing your audience. If you know your audience, then you can create content which matters to them.
Understanding your audience doesn’t stop at the demographics. Take time to understand the psychographics of your audience as well – what their pain points are, and what is important to them. Doing this will help you build a product which meets their needs.
As you draw a profile of your audience, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are they?
- What demographic profile do they fit?
- Where can you find them?
- What are their needs?
- What matters to them?
3) Know your competition
In order to develop a sound public relations strategy, you must also consider what your competition is doing. What are they doing well? What hasn’t worked as well for them? What can you do differently, so that you stand out from the crowd?
Evaluating your competitors’ public relations efforts will help you save time. Not only will it help you identify strategies that work, but it’ll also help you avoid making the same mistakes other businesses in your industry have made.
4) Review previous PR efforts
Just as looking at your competitors’ PR strategies is helpful, looking at your previous outreach will also help you build an effective strategy. When you’re reviewing your previous PR efforts, it’s important to make note of what worked for you, as well as what needs to be tweaked in the future.
Replicating successful PR efforts is a good idea, as is avoiding things which didn’t work as expected. Making a list of both will help you refine your PR strategy going forward.
5) Set a project timeline
Developing a timeline for your project will help keep you and your team accountable. As you’re doing this, it’s important to indicate how long your PR campaign will run. It’s also essential to set due dates for the deliverables at each stage.
Building a timeline for your PR strategy will help keep everyone on your team on the same page at any time. With a comprehensive timeline, everyone will know what you’re expecting from them when. In other words, a good timeline will help streamline your teamwork by keeping everyone on track.
7) Write your key messages
A crucial part of a good public relations strategy is its key messages. These are the main messages you want your audience to walk away with about your brand. Ideally, you need to develop three key takeaways for your target audience.
While this might seem like an unnecessary step, your key messages will actually guide the execution of your overall strategy. These key messages will also determine the content you create to support your strategy. At each step, knowing your key messages will help you make sound decisions.
Before you make each decision, you can ask yourself whether it supports your key messages, and your overall strategy. Ultimately, these key messages will help you execute your PR strategy well.
7) Set tactics
In order for your strategy to work, you must also develop tactics to support the overall strategy. Tactics can be anything from writing a standard press release to a more creative approach, such as hosting industry events or competitions.
Let’s talk about how to use these different tactics to stand out from the crowd:
Writing a press release usually seems like a piece of cake at the start. However, if you want to write a press release which journalists will read, then there are a few things you must do.
Firstly, you need a concise but catchy headline. Secondly, you need to use the inverted pyramid structure to present your news. If you introduce the most important information first, then you will be able to capture and retain a journalist’s attention. Finally, you should end your press release with a call to action and include contact details so that an interested journalist can reach you.
It’s important to develop an outstanding press release, but your press release email is just as important. When you’re writing a press release email, keep the following things in mind.
You need a concise, but catchy headline. Moreover, it’s a good idea personalize your email. You can do this by addressing the journalist by name and showing appreciation for previous work they have done. Finally, keep it short and sweet.
Your social media platforms are important PR tools. Maintaining an active social media presence can help you build meaningful relationships with your target audience.
In order to use social media to connect with your target audience, you need to go out of your way to engage with your followers. You should start by publishing interesting content which can spark conversations or debates.
Beyond simply sharing interesting content, you should also engage with your audience. Reply when someone leaves you a comment. Ask questions and encourage conversations. Share posts from other accounts in your industry.
Don’t take your social media channels for granted. Interacting with your target audience on social media is a powerful way to build positive long-term relationships with your target audience.
Hosting industry events is a good way to interact with your target audience in person. Face-to-face interactions are a powerful way to make a good impression for your brand in an informal and relaxed atmosphere.
Not many brands host or attend industry events. By going out of your way to do this, you can build a memorable brand image and stand out from the crowd.
Everyone loves a good contest. Not only are they fun, but you also stand a chance to win something. Hosting contests is a good way to boost your brand image. Since contests are so shareable, they are a good way to build brand awareness. As people share your contest with friends and family, more people will hear about you.
Contests also present a valuable opportunity to promote your core product or service. Sometimes all you need to do to turn someone into a client is offer them the opportunity to try your product. You can offer contest winners your product or service as a prize. If someone has a positive experience with your core products, then they are more likely to become a paying customer.
Blogging is a good way to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry. Provided that you can consistently share quality content on your blog, people will soon start to see you as a valuable source of information.
Ultimately, people who trust your brand are more likely to convert to actual clients.
Maintaining a quality blog is also a good way to earn backlinks from other trusted authorities in your industry. This, in turn, boosts your SEO ranking and increases publicity for your brand.
The way you approach media outreach can make a big difference in the level of publicity you achieve for your brand. In order to do effective outreach, you must not only pitch a good story but also build relationships with the media.
Developing positive relationships with journalists can boost your outreach efforts and increase the amount of coverage your brand gets. A journalist who feels valued is more likely to cover your brand when you need a story written. For this reason, it is important to invest time and energy into building these relationships beforehand.
Partnering with influencers can help you build brand awareness and reach a wider audience. Since they can affect their audience’s purchase decisions and brand loyalty, partnering with influencers can help you boost your sales.
Recommendations from influencers seem more authentic than traditional advertisements. Moreover, people trust influencer recommendations more than they trust recommendations from friends and family. For these reasons, building influencer relationships for your brand is worth the effort.
If you can produce creative content which people enjoy consuming, then they will come back for more. People who start relying on your brand for education and entertainment will have a positive impression of you. And, like we’ve already said, people who trust you to educate them are likely to become paying customers over time.
8) Create a budget
Before you actually implement your strategy, it’s very important to develop a budget. Having a budget set in stone beforehand will ensure you don’t go into debt in the name of public relations. Remember, public relations is supposed to be cheaper than traditional advertising. Make sure that shows in your budget.
9) Evaluate your strategy
Once you have run your public relations strategy from beginning to end, it’s important to evaluate the outcomes. Did you achieve your goals? What worked? What didn’t work? Answering the questions outlined above will help you refine your approach and create a more effective strategy next time.
Don’t get discouraged if you find many things which didn’t work the first time round. Public relations, and entrepreneurship in itself, is all about continuous improvement. The most successful businesses thrive because of their ability to adapt to their environment as well as the outcomes of their efforts.
Building a public relations strategy: Best practices
A big part of successful public relations is building positive long-term relationships. Always strive to build relationships with the people you interact with, so that you can build a favourable image of a brand which cares. If you take time to connect with journalists, bloggers, influencers and your target audience, then they will develop loyalty to your brand.
Being creative and doing things differently will ensure you stand out from your competitors. Try to be creative in everything you do, whether it’s your media outreach or your content creation. Creativity will establish a strong and memorable brand image for you over time.
Offer journalists value
Don’t make the journalists you connect with feel like a means to an end. Whenever you send them an email pitch, think about how your story offers them value.
How much value you can offer a journalist should be at the top of your mind even when you don’t have a story to pitch. If you realize a journalist is working on a story, find out what you can do to help. Perhaps that article which you stumbled upon recently could be of use to them. You might’ve done research which could add value to their story. Or maybe someone at your company is willing to be interviewed so that the journalist can include quality quotes in their story.
Always be prepared for a crisis
If you’re doing public relations for your brand, then you must always be prepared to protect the image of your brand in a crisis. Don’t wait for a crisis to happen first then react to it. Instead, be proactive about your crisis management. Put a team in place for crisis management, and prepare them to manage potential crises beforehand. This way, you won’t be caught unprepared or too shocked to react when crisis hits.
Building a public relations strategy seems complicated at first. While it is a lengthy process, taking time to develop a good strategy will pay off in the end. By following the steps outlined above, you can boost your brand image and reach a wider audience.
Do you need help executing your public relations strategy? Pressfarm’s team of account managers, writers and PR specialists can create world-class content and design a strategy to push it out to leading journalists in your field. Check out our packages and start generating publicity for your brand today.