How to Set up Your PR Strategy Step-By-Step
Every company needs to have a clear, well-defined PR strategy that they work actively with. This will help you reach your audience and establish yourself as a leader in your industry, whilst also ensuring that you get seen and heard.
In this guide, we help you develop your communication and PR strategy to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
1. Plan PR activities
Are you ready for PR? The answer to this question is crucial and much more difficult to answer than most people think. Therefore, some leading questions may be helpful:
Is my business stable?
Public relations activities are usually long-term and it, therefore, makes no sense to invest in creating awareness and reputation for something that can change rapidly.
Do I have the resources to run PR activities?
Even if you hire a PR agency, you need to invest your time when introducing your business to the market. Then you need to provide the consultants with information, approve materials, and monitor activities. Therefore, make sure that you have the time and resources to manage your PR activities before jumping into them.
Do you know what PR goals you want to achieve?
If not, maybe you do not need promotional services at all? However, it is very unlikely – all organizations must communicate with their stakeholders in one way or another. However, it is important to do so consciously.
Make a plan
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is the purpose of being seen in the media? (Build a brand? Reach customers? Recruit staff? Find investors or partners?)
- What are your target audiences?
- What do your target groups benefit from for the media? (Do they read industry press, are they on social media, do they listen to radio?)
2. Study journalists
Find out which journalists in these media are interested in your subject area and industry. Make a list of the top journalists that you should focus on. Follow them in traditional media, on Twitter, and in other social media, read what they write about. Eventually, you will learn what they think is a good story and can then plan your PR strategy accordingly to get seen and featured.
3. Be helpful
Journalists sometimes use social media to quickly get answers to questions. If you get such a chance: Answer immediately. If you do not know the answer, then refer to someone else. This is a smart way to show that you exist and that you are an expert in your field.
4. Strengths and weaknesses
Analyze your strengths and opportunities, for example, that your issues have great public interest or that you have a skilled spokesperson. Also identify weaknesses and risks, for example, that you have few resources or a bad reputation with journalists. Once you have done this, leverage your strengths and try to find solutions for your weaknesses.
5. Target groups
Determine who your target groups are and find out more about their prior knowledge, attitudes, and media consumption. We easily become blind and think that we know everything about our target group whilst in fact, we never know everything.
6. Social issues
Identify societal issues that relate to your core business and that you want to form an opinion about. Define the problem and decide which solutions you want to propose. Also, clarify how you yourself contribute to the solution. At the same time, companies should be careful with discussing politics and other similar topics as it can backlash and cause a bad reputation.
Decide on the main message that should be a common theme in all your communication. Break down the main message into a few concrete sub-messages. When you have done so, stay true to your message and be consistent in your communication.
Appoint a spokesperson that you want to profile, for example by quoting the person in press releases. The spokesperson must want to prioritize contacts with journalists. Also, it can be a good idea to establish one or more experts that the media can contact. You can define in your PR strategy who should manage which type of communication. This makes it clearer for your team but also avoids any confusion.
9. PR goals
Determine concrete and measurable goals that you regularly follow up. This applies to both impacts in traditional media and key figures for your digital channels. Use the follow-ups to continuously change and improve the PR work. Any marketing and promotional efforts should have concrete goals in order to be able to be measured so you can see if your efforts actually generate any results. This will also help you adapt your strategy accordingly.
10. Business goals
Describe which business goals you want the PR goals to contribute to. Usually, business goals are about financial results, but they can also apply to, for example, increased customer satisfaction or employee well-being. Defining your goals will allow you to focus on the efforts that matter and help you generate the results you are looking for.
11. Should you have your own PR team or a PR agency?
In the beginning, each organization must decide by whom and with what resources the communication will be conducted. Is it worth building your own PR team or is it better to hire a PR agency? The answers to this question will depend on how important PR is to your business and what resources you have.
What are the benefits of having your own PR team?
Costs – an hour of work by an internal specialist is cheaper than an hour by a consultant. Provided you can use the time efficiently.
Good knowledge – one of the main benefits of having your own PR team is that team members usually have good knowledge of the company as well as access to all information. This can save a lot of time.
Independence – you can really build personal relationships with the media, independent of a third party.
What are the benefits of hiring a PR agency?
- Opportunity to use the agency’s resources – such as knowledge and a broad network of contacts.
- Cost optimization – You pay for the services you need and when you need them.
- Other people’s opinions – an opportunity to discuss and validate your ideas with professional experts. Something that every expert who works alone lacks.
How to choose a PR agency?
Very often the decision of choosing a PR agency is based on recommendations from peers. But let’s assume you do not have a good recommendation. How do you find the best agency for your business?
It’s always good to start with research – search online, ask your business partners and pay special attention to three things:
The agency’s experience – this is probably the most important factor. If the agency has worked or is working with clients from your industry or similar organizations, you can assume that the agency knows your industry and has good contacts with the media.
The team – it is important to make sure that the agency has the right people on board and see who will actually work for your company. In addition to the consultants’ experience being the most important thing, it is also good to check that there is chemistry between you and them. You will work daily with these people so it is good to like each other.
Staff turnover – if the consultants stay with the agency for several years, it is a very good sign. First, you do not want new PR managers every six months. Secondly, it means that they are happy with their work – and happy people work better.