Strategic planning is at the heart of all public relations. Launching a PR campaign without a strategic plan is like embarking on a cross-country road trip without a map or GPS. In today’s business environment with limited resources and ramped up accountability, it’s not enough to head off in a general, vague direction. A GPS-like a strategic plan requires you to input your destination, which keeps you on track.
The ability to create and implement strategies is the key that enables professionals to advance from tactical PR practitioners to sought-after strategic planners. Today, effective PR communicators not only need to know how to execute but they also need to know how to evaluate the effectiveness of their strategic approach. The landscape of the profession is rapidly changing and new methods and tactics are emerging. It is shedding its past approach from disseminating information to a focus on promoting engagement, identifying influencers and developing brand advocates and ambassadors. But the basic principles for excellence in effective PR still remain the same: strategy, creativity, integrity and implementation.
The most successful way to develop a strategic PR plan is to break it down into four main components: analysis, research, execution and evaluation.
The first step toward a successful campaign is to perform an analysis of all aspects of the PR situation. This leads to identifying and establishing the communications objectives, which are different from the goals. Objectives are clear and measurable statements based on an organization’s goals. Goals, stated in general terms, articulate an organization’s mission or vision. The next important step is to determine all the relevant publics and key audiences. Once the objectives and audiences are identified, it’s time to make strategic choices from a multitude of tactical options.
Along with the analysis phase is the research phase. Think of research as the GPS of the planning stage. It will position your message and set you in the right direction. An important aspect of effective public relations is strategically crafting your message to build relationships and engage your audiences in conversations.
After the situation analysis, research and message development are complete, you can formulate the timeline of the plan and begin executing the tactical components. This would be a good time to establish metrics for measuring results and evaluating effectiveness of the program.
The final phase is to evaluate the campaign and report on its reach and results. It is important to be able to articulate quantitative and qualitative measurements of effectiveness.
We are all learners and doers and a big part of life is learning from one another. By critically evaluating real-world case studies of other PR campaigns, we can enhance our creativity and strategic thinking. We can benefit immensely from observing, understanding and emulating best practices as well as learning from not so good ones. With each successful PR campaign, we gain the opportunity to advance in our field and elevate the profession as a whole.
Do you have a strategy that you want to let us and other practitioners know about? Well, we’d love to hear and welcome your comments.
Need help with a PR strategy? At Indra Public Relations we love to create and execute all aspects of a PR campaign delivering the results our clients deserve.
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