A guiding gameplan
While PR strategies aren’t fully visible to the public, they definitely need to be appreciated for their inherent value. What are public relations strategies? Well, PR strategies are what make PR campaigns work.
Without a carefully thought-out strategy, a PR campaign is likely to go nowhere fast, sewing confusion among the general public instead of communicating important messages about the client.
An unsuccessful PR campaign means that both the client and the PR team in charge of the campaign will be upset and their careers will suffer.
This can all be avoided by creating a detailed PR strategy that includes important information that will guide current and future PR efforts for the client.
But what does it take to create a rock-solid PR strategy? Quite a bit, as it turns out, but in this article, we will focus in on several important components that every PR strategy should include.
Important components of a PR strategy
As we walk you through some of the most important components of a PR strategy, we will refer to a simple example that should illustrate each component very clearly.
In this example, you have just been hired to create a PR campaign for a local retail company that sells handmade socks through their website.
This will be their first experience with PR, and their primary goal is to raise brand awareness among their target audience, which they have determined to be women between the age of 20 and 32.
Let’s look at ways you could plan an effective PR strategy for this client.
A deep understanding of the target audience
The target audience is the group of people that the client wants to communicate directly with through a brand new PR campaign.
While there may be times when the client already knows who their target audience is, you can’t always count on this, especially when working with a smaller PR firm or as a sole PR specialist.
You may need to do some serious research to determine who that target audience is.
For retail companies of any kind, the target audience will most often be a specific demographic within the general public who tends to purchase products from the company most often.
For charitable organizations, the target audience for a PR campaign may be government officials, volunteers, or top-tier donors.
In addition to knowing precisely who makes up a target audience, PR professionals also need to understand that audience with a great degree of accuracy to create a PR campaign that will be effective.
So if we return to the example we introduced above, you already know who the target audience is, but if you don’t know how to appeal to that audience, the results will fall flat.
If you wanted to learn more about the target audience, you could collaborate with the client to send out a survey to previous customers, offering a discount in exchange.
This survey could include questions about how the customer found the brand in the first place, who they purchased products for, and which social media platforms they use most often.
With this information, the strategy you create will be well-informed. You may decide that, in lieu of TV commercials, the campaign could include sponsored content from social media influencers, as this would be a more effective way to drive sales among the target audience.
Key messages are exactly what they sound like: important messages that the client wants a PR campaign to communicate.
PR professionals often work together with clients to determine key messages for an upcoming campaign.
Marketing materials within the campaign shouldn’t state the key messages outright, but rather find ways to translate these messages to the target audience.
If the example client has a key message like, ‘Our socks are a personal and inexpensive gift for your friends and family,’ then the marketing materials should find ways to communicate the message in a different way.
Maybe you could include the social media influencers mentioned above to give a friend some of these socks and record their reaction.
This would capture the fun of gift-giving and communicate the key message without asking the influencer to say something more blatant in the sponsored content like, ‘You can give these to your friends and they’ll love them.’
Damage control guidelines
Every good PR strategy should also include guidelines for what to do when something goes wrong with the campaign or when impressions of the brand become negative for any number of reasons.
Keep in mind that these guidelines aren’t just for you as a PR professional working on the campaign. They should be clear enough that a brand new hire could understand them right away.
The guidelines will also help steer the client to make moves that will benefit their brand and protect them from inaccurate representations of their company.
Returning again to our example, let’s imagine that one of the social media influencers you paid to create sponsored content does something problematic in a completely different video.
They don’t slander the brand or even mention it, but public perception of that influencer will definitely be damaged by this action, and there’s a risk that people will question the client’s association with this influencer.
If you planned for this contingency in the PR strategy beforehand, then everyone on the PR team will know exactly what to do next.
This component of the PR strategy will need to include important information about how the brand should respond and through which channels they should respond.
In a situation like this one, it’s important to send a message to the general public, but it’s especially crucial to communicate with the target audience so that sales aren’t adversely affected.
An example of a common response to this kind of problem would most likely include a very clear statement made both on the company’s website and via the company’s official brand accounts on social media.
The response should also include severing ties with this particular influencer.
This has been a brief look at what PR strategies should include, but of course, there are many other components we couldn’t touch on here. We encourage additional research online into all that PR strategies need to create positive results.