Putting Together Your Public Relations Strategy

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So it’s time to put together a public relations/publicity strategy for your business or organization. The task can seem overwhelming. But if you break the job of public relations planning down into smaller steps, you’ll soon have it together. Here’s one way to put together an effective public relations strategy.

1. Audience.

Before you put together your public relations strategy, you need to identify the stakeholders in your business communications: customers, prospects, employees, neighbors, vendors, and/or shareholders. Pick out the top three most important shareholders: those groups with the highest potential to impact your company’s success, for good or ill. Survey a sample to find out more about them, including which media they prefer.

2. Zero in on three key messages.

Depending on your business goals, key messages may be related to your core values, an upcoming product launch or major initiative, an issue you need to address, etc. In all publicity efforts, you’ll work to incorporate or reinforce one or more of these key messages.

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3. Story topics.

There are hundreds of opportunities for publicity every year. Just a few examples of story topics: a new product or service, reports issued, a web site launch or overhaul, significant company anniversaries, personnel appointments, a local angle on a breaking national or global news story, speeches, holiday observances, articles or books published, awards received or given, and community service initiatives. Which story topics will best help you convey your key messages? Make a list of all the possible ways you can publicize your company or product, and then narrow it down to the best ideas.

4. Timeline.

Take your best story ideas and develop a calendar for the next year. Start with those tied to specific events, milestones, or seasons (anniversaries, annual meetings, holiday tie-ins) and then add “evergreen” ideas (stories that can be pitched at any time, such as case studies). Routine activities (new hires) and piggybacking on breaking news will fill in the calendar as time goes on. Every quarter, review and update your timeline.

5. Put together a press kit.

A press kit can be simply a folder with two to three fact sheets or brochures — basic information about your company, product, or services; your company’s bio and professionally shot photographs of the president or other key executives; a list of key facts and figures; and a business card with contact information. You’ll use this on your “cultivation rounds” (see No. 7, below) and selectively in conjunction with press releases.

6. Create a list of press contacts.

Find out which journalists at the media print, radio, TV, and online levels cover your geographic area and/or your industry, handling topics relevant to you and your business. Make sure your priority audiences’ preferred media are included in your press contacts. Develop or purchase a mailing list of press contacts, with name, medium, title, address, phone, fax, and email information.

7. Develop a short list for making media rounds.

You’ll want to find out key journalists’ interests, deadlines, and how they prefer to receive information. You’ll want them to learn something about you, your company, story possibilities, and contact information.

8. Do you or other spokespersons need media training?

Especially if you expect to do media interviews, provide for training or coaching in your public relations strategy.

9. Are you ready to deal with media if a public relations disaster strikes?

Crisis management is a subject for another article, but at minimum you’ll want to identify primary and back-up spokespersons for your company, and also create an after-hours contact list of key players in case of a crisis.

10. Build in evaluation as a basis for future planning, and that’s it.

Now you’re ready to put your plan into action.

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (https://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (https://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: https://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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