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How to Create a PR Strategy
Learn the 8 steps to creating a successful PR Strategy
It’s not enough to “want PR” to see or have long-term success. Whether you’re an entrepreneur pursuing the “DIY PR” route or a publicist or public relations firm “doing PR” on a client’s behalf, understanding how to create a PR strategy is critical in seeing results. In this blog, I will walk you through the 8 high-level steps to crafting a lucrative public relations strategy for you or your client.
Step 1: Clarify and Set Goals
Before you do anything else, you need to clearly define what it is that you or your client is trying to achieve with PR. Push yourself or your clients to get specific here.
Here is the key question to consider:
- WHY do you want PR?
- To generate sales?
- Are you looking for impact?
- Are you looking to raise capital?
You want to get crystal clear on the ultimate endgame behind the desire for PR. Understanding the end objective/s will ultimately be the key foundation to building your public relations strategy.
Step 2: Research and Discovery
This is not the step to get lazy with or try to shortcut. This phase is where and when you gather sufficient context to effectively craft your PR strategy. Components of the research include (but are not limited to)
Identify what challenges stand between your client and their desired goals. For example, do they want to capture more of a specific market but the reality is that they’re up against long-standing industry giants backed by million-dollar marketing budgets? If so, that’s a challenge that you should have on your radar. Or perhaps they want to establish a major retail partnership, but they’re a small-fish startup with no accolades or credibility behind their brand to date. In summary, get really clear on the hurdles that stand between you or your client and their goals.
Through understanding the roadblocks that lie ahead, also explore any opportunities that you or your client have in regard to the market or landscape of relevant industries. This could look like a relevance to trending news topics, product differentiators, or a unique founder point of view. Learn where there are potential gaps in the market that you or your client can fill or what they do have to leverage as an asset.
It is also important to understand the major competitors in your given niche or industry so you know who you’re up against. Take inventory of online share of voice, public sentiment, and overall positioning. While it’s important to know your unique value proposition, it’s worth noting what your competitors have going for them as well.
Get very clear on the target relationships needed to reach outlined goals. If the goal is sales-based, is the target B2C, B2B, or both? Are you trying to raise capital? Then perhaps investors are the primary target. To simplify, ask this question: What relationships can impact or help me/my client reach our goal?
Step 3: Identify PR Tactics
Post Steps 1 and 2, you are now at the point where you can strategically and intentionally identify your PR tactics. This is the “how” you’re going to actually reach outlined goals. Examples of different PR tactics include:
- Press coverage (TV, digital, print, podcast, radio_
- Partnerships & Collaborations
- Influencer Marketing
- Thought Leadership (Bylines, Speaking, etc.)
- Social Media Campaigns
- Community Involvement / Activation
- PR Stunts or Activations
- Client Referral Programs
The tactic you select should answer this question: What PR tactic will enable me to connect with the relationships I’ve identified that are critical in achieving my goals?
For example, if your client is a local politician whose goal is to gain influence for the passing of a particular ballot, you choose to focus on thought leadership through community speaking engagements because it’s a platform that allows them to inform, inspire and influence key publics. Another example – if you are a DTC product focused on targeting Gen Z, you might decide to go after partnerships and specifically look into collaborating with a TikTok influencer. Another example – if your client is looking to add credibility to their investor pitch deck, it might be worth pursuing national press coverage considering mainstream logos can add credibility and proof of concept.
The point is to allow your goals and your research to dictate where and how efforts are focused when creating your PR strategy.
Step 4: Prepare and Build
Once you have these tactics selected, strategically, it’s time to prepare and build accordingly. It’s time to nail down your messaging and your positioning. It’s time to gather, update, audit, or create assets. If you have a DTC product brand that you’re representing and you want to go after digital gift guides, then you’re going to need great photos and some affiliate marketing links set up. This is also the time to build lists where relevant and quick pause list building is one of the most tedious but important parts of traditional press outreach. It’s also the time to formalize any timelines and communicate with your clients or your teams to formally manage and set expectations.
Step 5: Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Once your PR tactics have been selected, it’s now time to define your key performance indicators (KPIs). The KPIs will differ based on the tactic/s selected – some more easily tracked than others. While certain data can be collected via free and paid tools and software, others might be more manual.
For example, tracking conversions and total views on a digital piece of the press are relatively straightforward thanks to tracking codes and platforms such as Google Analytics. Similarly, monitoring audience growth on a mailing list or social media platform can be viewed natively or via third-party tools. Tracking opportunities, meaning all the different opportunities that may be produced from tactics (introductions, speaking engagements, partnerships, etc.) on the other hand, is a much more manual process.
Whatever you do identify as worth tracking, just make it, once again, relevant to the specific goals at hand.
Step 6: It’s Go Time – Get Out There, and Start Testing
You’ve done your due diligence, you have a plan – it’s now time to hit GO, and begin executing upon your carefully laid out strategy. Put perfection aside, because ultimately no matter how thoughtfully you’ve curated a strategy, Step 6 leads into Step 7 which is…
Step 7: Evaluate and Update
It’s time to pay attention, evaluate, and update your strategy if needed. One thing to monitor is how the different metrics are impacting each other. For example, if the goal is e-commerce sales, and you’re getting users to your client’s site but none are converting, this might be an indication that either A) you’re attracting the wrong type of users (aka you’re going after the wrong outlets) or B) your website needs to be further optimized.
Take inventory of what’s working and what’s not working. When looking at pitching traditional press via email, what subject lines are working? Which pitches are getting responses? Which pitches aren’t? Based on what you’re seeing, you can make informed tweaks. Overall, it’s safe to expect some amount of changes to arise no matter how much legwork you put into developing your strategy.
Step 8: Assess
Our final step is to assess if the strategy was successful. From any outcome, something can be learned. Make sure to explore why your efforts did work just as much as you’re exploring the reasons it may not have worked. This will enable you to develop more successful PR strategies going forward.
Wrapping it up
Becoming a pro at creating successful PR strategies takes time. It takes failing, winning, and staying persistent. Also keep in mind that we live in an ever-changing world – meaning, just as the world evolves, so must our strategies. What worked 5 years ago, likely won’t today. For those looking to go the DIY route – I encourage you to listen to the Pitchin’ and Sippin’ podcast for more free resources on how to develop effective strategies. For those looking to have a strategy developed for them, explore THEPRBAR inc. Bar Menu here.