While most companies are looking for diverse ways to navigate social issues within the public realm, public relations professionals are seeking different avenues through digital advertising, eCommerce trading, and social media.
Throughout the last decade, a transitional shift has occurred, leaving public relations teams and professionals having to grow their understanding of businesses and the online world. The increasing use of digital platforms and social media as a part of a company’s marketing strategy has left thousands of them to face public scrutiny.
But public relations has managed to adapt itself, as the world moved from an offline to an online lifestyle. There are thousands of PR firms and teams constantly innovating, bringing change to the social dynamic of the PR industry. These changes have allowed for more transparent growth, but public relations strategies are also gradually shifting their stance within the public and social domain.
But with so much access to information and data, is public relations strategies currently relevant? And how will it adapt in the coming years to survive as a prominent solution for business communication and brand establishment?
Why is PR strategy important?
Businesses of any size and shape have been making use of PR strategies as a way to infiltrate the marketplace and increase target audience interest. Today, the landscape is somewhat different, but the scope of practice has slightly been adjusted.
The PR strategy can be seen as a guideline, or framework by which a company and PR professionals design methods that will help them generate more press, and create a better brand identity.
Planning around a PR strategy involves market research and how to implement new ways that will attract potential clients, build media relations, increase organic search traffic and potentially earn media endorsement.
Creating these strategies, while keeping in mind the brand of the business and its identity is a complex task but remains a vital aspect for any business looking to firmly plant themselves within their desired realm of business relations and media partners.
The essence of PR strategies can change according to business needs and desires. Ultimately, one can expect a well-planned PR strategy to contain some form of the following:
- Customer-orientated marketing
- Media practices and relations
- Research and data analytics
- Captivating digital content
There is of course a right and wrong way to everything, and with PR strategies it’s no different. Many times, businesses seem to miss what the practice of PR is, and how to leverage these tools to their best advantage.
There is still much PR has to offer the global media and marketing industry, acting as a link between the business, media, and the public eye.
But while PR strategies have given businesses better access to media relations, various companies amidst the COVID-19 pandemic seek assistance with crisis communications.
Crisis strategies are one of the latest movements in the PR industry, as businesses are using cutting-edge digital marketing to help grow business out of the post-pandemic slump.
Indications revealed that both public relations and crisis communications are paving the way forward, creating new opportunities to link with the public, and better establish identity among global consumers.
How do you create a PR strategy?
Building a PR strategy that can drive lucrative returns for companies is an essential part to develop better marketing and communication efforts. PR professionals have been pressured to prove that these strategies can work within the thriving digital world.
Reimagining the future of the industry has raised the stakes for many PR firms. As consumers are looking for more authentic engagements from their favorite brands.
But with the immense challenge ahead, how do you create a killer PR strategy that can amplify the brand and company message?
1. Start with a goal
The best way to achieve PR goals is to establish measurable objectives. Thus, professionals have turned to an age-old method that is still proven successful.
Abbreviated as “SMART” goals, this method allows teams to better map and acquire market research for their strategies.
This branch of SMART goals puts into focus who is the target audience and which media partners you can link with. It creates a measurable tactic, thus, teams can be more clear about what they want to achieve through social engagement and consumer messaging.
While major corporations can have large PR strategies these can be challenging to maintain and map as the campaign develops. In this step, professionals can break down goals into smaller sections. This can give them more clarity about where errors or gaps in the campaign may be, or where more core focus should be implemented.
For some companies, financial resources are hard to come by in the beginning. Goals should be realistic and fit with company objectives. Companies should consider where their weaknesses are, how they can better leverage available resources, and make use of current technology.
PR professionals consider what companies have available at their disposal. This can include current website traffic, marketing material, and digital content. With this, a better picture can be created that will make clear whether or not their strategies are achievable.
Pulling together company values and current PR campaigns will go beyond current initiatives. Here professionals set out to regard the bigger picture of the current state of the PR campaign and what it can become once implemented.
It’s one of the trickiest steps in the “SMART” method, as PR specialists have to consider what the relevance of these PR strategies will have in the near future – the progression thereof and how this pr strategy can reach media outlets.
Finally, all PR strategies and campaigns need to have a specific timeframe. If no progress is made, professionals will need to re-evaluate the effectiveness and influence a strategy has. This will indicate to them whether something is working, and how to adjust accordingly.
Setting up measurable and manageable timeframes is an essential key to having better results.
2. Identify target audience
Understanding your target audience better will give a clear picture of how to effectively reach out to them.
But with a vast chasm of markets to reach on a global scale is challenging. Thus, firms turn to some of the following tactics to identify their audiences.
- Research competitors and how they’re reaching consumers.
- See what current trends in the market are, and how to better leverage online customer feedback.
- Understand your current market, and consumers and how they’re interacting with current PR strategies.
- Use online analytical tools and data capturing methods to understand local demographics.
- Calibrate company interest towards a certain niche.
Every target audience has certain traits and characteristics, aligning PR strategies and the campaign towards these characteristics opens more channels of communication.
3. Key Messages
The basic understanding here is to consider what the message is you’re looking to get across. A key message can differ from business to business, but some examples include:
- Gaining more online traffic
- Creating brand awareness
- Establishing new products and services
- Building a platform from which you can communicate
These and other key messages contain specific attributes:
- Target tailored
- Catchy and Simple
Creating your key message around these attributes makes it easier to see how a message should be built to make a lasting impact on your target audience. PR strategies, whether short-term or long-term, should consider that market relevance can heavily impact the success of the overall campaign.
Finally, messages can be shared with owned media or paid media efforts. Public perception of the message is exactly what the business is after.
4. Get creative
Forming a creative strategy that can produce effective and lucrative returns has pushed designers, and content creators to re-evaluate the bigger picture of campaigns.
So how does one plan a creative strategy?
Well, it might sound simpler than anticipated, but online research and current market trends are one of the key elements that help build upon new ideas and concepts.
Some firms and PR teams currently look towards some of the following attributes:
- Mapping Ideas and Concepts
- Linking new ideas with existing customers
- Implementing better data and research
- Starting simple and building it from there
- Combining scientific data with creative elements
- Using Google analytics
Creating prolific strategies that will have a lasting impact can also be measured against resource availability, and how current goals will be achieved.
5. Measure Results
As already mentioned, results need to be real and measurable. Effective market influence comes from establishing a timeframe in which companies can have a clear and concise idea of how to reach target audiences and when is the best time to do so.
If a company is looking to increase online organic site traffic, starting with smaller amounts and working towards global reach is a more measurable route.
Conducting follow-ups with media partners about whether press releases and advertisements led to more media coverage and increased readership. Furthermore, with relevant data professionals will get a clear indication if more organic leads or traffic has been created.
Effectively communicating with both teams and the target audience from the off will help understand future campaigns and how they can be improved. Public relations is about linking and building new relationships with investors, journalists, and media partners.
If one strategy is taking months with minimal return, re-evaluating these strategies would enable firms and professionals to see where more attention should be given. Finally, social media has become one of the key drivers to see whether or not strategies are successful with potential customers.
These platforms have built-in metric tracking software and guidance for professionals to leverage and better understand their market, and the impact they have created.
When Does Your Company Need a PR Strategy?
The world of public relations is no easy scene to navigate.
So how do you start talking and pitching stories?
As seen, various elements can influence the success and rate of return of each campaign. If strategies aren’t well aligned with company goals and objectives, PR efforts can be diminished and see a slim progression.
But building a PR strategy around a certain goal or objective will lead to creative innovation. Small businesses and startups should consider ways they would like to establish themselves in the marketplace, but also, how industry competition will impact their efforts.
Knowing exactly when to execute PR campaigns, increases long-term results and marketing strategies.
Here’s a look at when companies should draft together a PR strategy.
To improve brand awareness
Brand awareness, especially for new companies and startups is a crucial aspect to help establish their products, services, and platforms.
Improving brand awareness can help lead to creating a business page within your designated target audience. More so, it’s a way to get a better public opinion of business offerings and services.
Brand awareness can be conducted through some of the following means:
- Corporate and Social Responsibility
- Media publications and marketing efforts
- Company culture and employee engagement
- Social media and influencer marketing
Once companies have established themselves, it’s imperative to look for new opportunities within the current marketplace. Furthermore, the direct use of digital and online content can be directed towards improved brand awareness efforts.
During times of change or confrontation, crisis management helps companies see where a problem has arisen and how the road forward will be.
With a growing online community, finding misinformative and negative content is an arduous process. To help mitigate the spread of negative chatter, companies and PR tools have been established and developed to track and find material that can negatively impact a company’s reputation.
Ample tools now exist, but some of the most notable platforms are:
- ANews Tips
- Covered Press
- Coverage Books
- Tweet Deck
These platforms have been specifically designed to assist PR teams to monitor online chatter. From this, these teams can remove any negative and low-quality content, and respond through sophisticated means.
Social media has largely contributed to negative comments and content is easily shared and posted about an individual or company. Having a strong grip about current news events, trends and market interest establishes better ways in which companies and PR professionals can interact with consumers.
Resolving issues immediately is better than leaving them to grow into greater problems.
To Build Trust
PR success is only achievable if a strong and authentic level of trust has been embedded into the target market. Consumers respect and support companies that have established themselves as trustworthy brands.
How many of your favorite brands or companies have managed to outlive the pandemic? Even more, what have these brands done to support their employees and the community? These are important questions to ask when looking for trustful brands you’d want to associate with.
For PR firms, this means putting together PR strategies that will clearly outline their role and influence within the marketplace. Undergoing dodgy deals, and partnering with unreliable individuals or media partners decreases industry trust, but also, consumers feel less attracted to what companies have to offer or the influence they can have in the market.
Having a valuable online presence with credible resources, content, and media relations is one of the first steps many companies look to take to garner better trust.
Trust means having better transparency, not just between employees and executives, but more importantly with consumers. When something goes wrong, or a crisis arises, both employees and consumers trust those who outlive negative impact.
Help Generate Leads
Business leads contribute to better revenue building, but also brand identity. To generate more leads, simply means companies use PR tactics that will offer them more organic online traffic to their website and social media platforms.
So how does one generate leads in the cumbersome online world?
Have a human-focused approach
What does the market want and need, and what are the trends consumers are looking to follow?
This should be a no-brainer. Being active on social media, sharing posts, and creating online content media relations would like to share and support.
Offer Education Material
Digital advertising is more than just pretty content. Having education material allows consumers to easily and more broadly engage with the company and its offerings.
Become a thought-leader
It’s not easy or simple, but consider it to be a leader in innovation and modernization. Drive change, and influence through visionary PR campaigns that will have an impact.
Finally, generating more leads is done through search engine optimization, but yet, there is a vast difference between PR and SEO. From the get-go, PR teams and companies should establish a clear understanding of what each of these is, and how to better leverage their qualities.
PR Strategy Examples
Finally, we get to see what a good PR strategy can look like through the use of digital integration, and online engagement.
Some notable examples for PR strategies include:
- Social Media Management and Posting
- Customer Survey and Forums
- Using digital tools to integrate with other platforms and online content
- Influencer marketing
- Look for free press options
- Customer testimonials
The power of a good PR strategy lies in creating high-quality content, rather than having mass content that will not generate much traffic or have low consumer interest. Refining messages that can be turned into communication efforts helping to achieve campaign goals and objectives put PR professionals at the center of innovation and creative drive.
Having informative and engaging content is the basis of good marketing, but overall we can see that public relations strategy helps to better establish company and brand identity.
Furthermore, companies who have a better brand identity help them to stand out against market competitors, but also settle themselves as a trustworthy brand which both consumers and employees would easily associate with.
Online communications and advertising has changed, and being more present with new market trends will give a clear indication of where companies can focus resources and PR efforts. Finally, a good PR strategy is always aligned with measurable goals and objectives, helping them leverage modern tools to improve overall status