January 11, 2017

10 Easy Tips to Create a Better 2017 PR Plan — Right Now


We’re two weeks into 2017 with new goals, new strategies and hopefully a couple resolutions still intact. According to Entrepreneur, the new year is when most businesses set time aside for assessment, goal setting and strategic planning. “When it comes to PR,” the article reads, “this is the time to set objectives and formulate a clearly defined plan that will help your business achieve optimum results for media.”

“Yeah yeah yeah, plans be damned,” one might say. “We’re the next Uber of [fill in the blank],” or my personal favorite, “We just need one big press hit, let’s make it happen.”

As tempting as it is to move right into outreach and attempt to “make fetch happen” with an announcement, a new product launch or the next big viral video, the planning piece of PR is by far the greatest gift you can give yourself for 2017.

Here’s 10 ways to create a better PR plan and tips on how to make it happen in the coming year:

  1. Build Buy-In | Want to ensure alignment across the team, your board and anyone else who has a stake in your business? A solid plan not only puts goals in perspective, but also gives stakeholders a chance to chime in.
  1. Set Goals | Outside of “getting a big media hit,” consider your overall business objectives. These should serve as the foundation for your key media messages.
  1. Target Practice | Ask yourself, “who are my key audiences?” “What are they reading?” and more specifically, “What do I want them to do?” These are the kinds of questions to raise when organizing campaigns and researching media outlets and reporters.
  1. Do Your Homework | Half the battle in pitching is hitting the right target at the right time. Suit up and review editorial calendars, research media kits and start to follow the reporters who “speak in your space.”
  1. Outline Directions | “Can you tell me how to get to the cover of the New York Times?” – often sang to the tune of Sesame Street. While the NYT is a commonly requested target (and a good one to aim for) in earned media, it’s important to assess the following before pitching national coverage:

Is the publication reader audience YOUR target audience?

Is your concept proven or is there a distribution channel?

Has it been picked up locally?

  1. Dust Off Your Toolbox | PR encompasses a number of tools and practices that include earned media outreach, influencer marketing, partnerships and events. Based on your company’s goals and targets, it’s important to drill down on which tool to use and when to use it.
  1. Construct a Consistent Drumbeat of Coverage | “Review your business plan through the eyes of an editor or reporter,” advises Entrepreneur. “What would be of interest to your customers or investors? Identify potential media opportunities that could occur during the year, such as product launches, expansion activities and new service offerings, and develop a calendar that lists the events. If you can, try to organize major news events to create the most buzz.”
  1. Measure | You heard it here first folks: in the world of earned media, measurement is often built on a foundation of “feel good buzzwords.” Besides building brand awareness and analyzing impression count, setting PR goals is tough stuff for those in the world of direct ROI. We often encourage clients to use PR as one of many tools in an omni-channel approach to content marketing. Good PR can certainly move the needle but is no magic bullet or quick fix solution.
  1. Rinse | Take time to review ongoing PR efforts and create a quarterly report of efforts. Keep it simple: use what works and discard what doesn’t, based on your plan’s key performance indicators.
  1. & Repeat! | Finally at year end, “use an analytical eye to review resulting coverage including positive, negative or perhaps neutral coverage,” suggests Entrepreneur. “Look at the overall amount of positive, negative or neutral coverage you received. If you subscribed to a media measurement service, assess the results of your campaigns.