6 Steps to a Killer PR Plan
A well-crafted media outreach plan establishes goals, measurable objectives, strategies and some supporting tactics to achieve your PR goals. While there are a multitude of different formats and formulas to follow in the PR planning process, ranging from a simple outline to a lengthy novel, the following series of steps provide an easy-to-use outline to customize your own plan.
Research and Discovery
Where does your brand fit in the marketplace? What are your competitors doing? What emerging trends are going on in your industry? There are two avenues to getting the answers you seek, primary and secondary research.
Primary research means going out and doing research on your own. A quick survey of previous customers—social media is great for this—or friends and family can be used to help you better your brand positioning. Then, write up your findings in a brief executive summary to kick off your plan.
Secondary research consists of collecting data that has already been published. You might find statistics relevant to consumer purchasing behavior or emerging trends in a publication like Wall Street Journal or Forbes.
Decide on a Goal
What is the purpose of reaching out to the media? Are you seeking general brand awareness, e-commerce sales, interest from buyers or international expansion? Define a few broad, motivational goals to ground your media relations strategy.
Outline Objectives and Strategies
While goals are general, objectives are specific. Identify your major objectives to accomplish through media coverage. Make sure these are measurable so they are easy to evaluate at the end of the campaign. For example, if one of your goals is to become an internationally known athletic apparel designer, once you have clear objectives are established, consider what strategies you will employ to meet your objectives.
In order to meet the objective of securing blog coverage in New York, you might host your own pop-up fashion show during New York Fashion Week, or do a video look-book with a few of the top style bloggers. Beyond events and campaigns, you may have established social media objectives to monitor for brand mentions and to respond to everyone who tweets your account each day. Or, perhaps you decide to visit New York and set up a series of media desk-sides to improve print coverage.
Identify Your Target Audiences
One of the biggest mistakes brands make is attempting to be all things to all people, so don’t choose a target customer that is too broad. While you may be convinced that every single woman in the world should fall in love with your handbag line, not establishing a specific target customer actually does a disservice to your brand.
In fact, when it comes to working with the media, the more niche you can be, the better. You may decide to focus on a primary customer for your outreach, or you may identify two or three different audiences and craft a unique pitch strategy for each target customer.
Perhaps you learn from your research that many of your customers are young moms who love the more fashion-forward look of your handbag line, but actually use them as diaper bags because of the roomy vinyl interior. This discovery could drive an entire marketing strategy focused on telling the diaper bag story to parenting magazines and mommy bloggers.
Of course, you may also think your bags could be a huge hit with the yoga-loving singles who are bound to find them to be the perfect gym bag that is spacious and still looks great for happy hour. You can then develop a second pitch directly aimed at the yoga and fitness blogs or magazines such as Women’s Health and SELF Magazine.
In order to ensure that your media coverage is on-brand, include a section in your plan about your target customer. Beyond age, income and location, really get under her skin and find out what makes her tick.
Spend about a paragraph developing a persona for each of your target audiences. Later, as you develop your messaging, you can connect the dots as to why your products or brand story is a fit for each persona.
Determine Key Messages
Once you have determined what is important to your target customer, you can begin to craft key messages about your product.
Basically, your PR challenge is to identify and then deliver the most important and impactful messages, based on which ones are going to capture the attention of the media. These are the key take-aways that you want anyone who comes into contact with your brand to quickly understand. They can be used on your website, social media status updates, and in pitches to the media.
Using the same handbag example, you might want to reach out to green blogs with the key message that each bag is made with recycled materials. Outreach to Cosmopolitan Magazine might lead with the fact that the interior pocket snaps off to create the perfect evening clutch. Perhaps your lead designer was inspired by the 1980s, which is a tie-in to a popular movie that just came out. Your challenge is to identify and then deliver the most important and impactful messages that are going to catch the attention of media.
One way to determine your key messages is to imagine what your ideal media coverage would look like. Will your pitch include the fact that the collection was inspired by a trip to Wyoming? Or that Zooey Deschanel is a fan of your butter yellow bag? By imagining what information would be included in an article about your brand, you can backtrack your way from a killer media hit to the information that was highlighted in your pitch to the editor.
The final part of the plan is figuring out how to evaluate the success of your media outreach. This may include media impressions, Facebook page growth or engagement, referral traffic to your website, or even a pre-survey and post-survey to determine whether or not the levels of awareness or brand affinity have changed as a result of your campaign.
Remember to benchmark your current numbers before you begin executing your plan so you can effectively track results.
Whether you are launching a new brand entirely or promoting what’s next for your established products, a strategic PR plan is essential to ensure that goals are addressed and achieved. While multiple versions of a PR plan exist, following is a step-by-step guide of all a typical public relations plan would entail. A template PR Plan is included here for your use.
Do you have a 12-month PR plan? If not, what is holding you back from a legit PR plan? If so, what has been your biggest success or struggle?
If you’re really looking to step up your PR game, download my ebook The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org