PR campaigns hold many long term benefits that greatly increase brand awareness and sales overtime, even when the campaign has come to an end. However, since you’re here, you have probably already realized this and want to get into the process of initiating a PR campaign.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. This article will walk you through the process of creating a successful PR campaign. Arm yourself with curiosity and dive into this extensive step-by-step guide on how to secure long lasting benefits with the perfect campaign for your business.
In case you’re not familiar with the concept, we’re here to first put matters into context. What is a PR campaign and what are its objectives? It might seem simple, but there’s details to pay attention to.
To put it simply, a PR campaign is the collection of different communication practices, each with a specific purpose, but inherently the same goal, which have a fixed budget and a limited time frame.
The objectives of campaigns vary depending on the company’s needs, and so do the practices. That’s why all PR campaigns are different, so they can suit the benefitting company. However, within these practices, the objectives are the same. They revolve around analyzing your context, being in the right place at the right time, setting clear short term goals, identifying your audience, and more.
That is why it’s important to pay attention to your campaign. It has details you need to iron out, so that the campaign fits your needs, and your brand’s name is placed on the map.
The first step to pretty much anything lies in the preparation. It’s crucial to begin any work on any type of campaign by researching the context. Especially for a PR campaign, the people are the essence.
Researching your audience requires you to establish a certain table of characteristics with such features that your company might deem necessary and relevant. In this regard, think about your audience - group them by age, gender, nationality to get an idea of what predominates.
More importantly - brainstorm what their values might be. What interests they have and what they deem important is what should be important to you and your company. When your interests and values align, you know what your target audience will be. Then, you’ll be able to better adapt your content, or ways to release content so that it reaches more people related to your target audience.
Do they like a certain blog? Contact them. Are they interested in videos as opposed to articles? Film videos. The context of who you are trying to reach tells you how to proceed with the substance of your content and campaign.
To have the most effective and successful PR campaign means to be prepared. Step 2 is setting goals for your campaign. What do you want to achieve? What change do you expect after it’s done? An overall goal is important for several reasons:
Firstly, it creates a clear path. You’re able to stay focused on your goal and manage your actions and the details of your campaign in a way that pursues that goal. This can be increasing sales, your brand’s reputation, or awareness for an issue you care about. Either way, this goal will determine how to approach your campaign.
Secondly, you set goals, but also identify limitations. That’s important in order to have a realistic idea of what is achievable. That being said, consider two major players in determining your goals - budget and time.
The budget is something you need to allocate very carefully, and depending on the way you’re going to approach it, some things might need more than others. In considering your goals, you consider your priorities, what to spend on, and what you’ll have the budget for.
The timeframe is the time you set for your campaign (which is also dependent on the budget). It can limit how much you can do and the context in which you’ll be doing it. Setting yourself a time restriction will help you move forward with your campaign and have a structured schedule to follow.
Gathering research can’t be stressed enough. There are several different aspects of the context in which your campaign will come to be. Your audience, limits, timing, industry, and the media are all relevant for the success of your campaign, and without proper research, you won’t know what might affect your strategy and in what ways.
That being said, your industry dictates what you will promote. Researching your industry will help you analyze competitors in the market. How do you compare to them? How are you different? What do you have to offer that is exceptional and unique for your brand?
Finding out how you can stand out from the rest is essentially finding out what to focus on. You will know that if there’s one aspect that is unique for your brand, you should focus on that because it sets you apart from your competitors. Is it exceptional customer service? Or maybe a product that solves both comfort and budgetary issues? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s unique to your brand.
Now it’s time for the substance of your campaign. In writing your content, you have to come up with a clear message that you want to communicate to your audience. The best way to do so is to be able to convey it in a single sentence. That way your readers will get a straightforward idea of what it is that you want to tell them.
The sentence should be able to answer these questions: what the message is, what issue it addresses, how does your product/service tackle the problem, what difference it makes. In doing so, you set the topic that your readers will expect. Brainstorming is helpful for this part. Sit down and write down all the ideas that come to mind, then thin them out by method of exclusion.
This content can be in any form you think would be best for your company and the industry you’ll release it into. Make sure it’s engaging for the audience, which it will be since you’ve done your research and know how to grab your target audience’s attention.
Keep in mind that your content must also be suitable for the media. Media outlets are the main source through which your content will reach your audience, which makes it an important mediator between you and the public you aim to engage with.
The raw idea of what your content will contain is now finished. As a following step you need to shape it in such a way that will not only give information, but affect your audience in many ways.
Having said that, think about telling a story. Instead of saying “We offer this product”, you can make it more colorful. For example, “We aim to contribute to the tackling of an issue, and this is how we help”. It’s much more engaging. As mentioned earlier, your piece of writing should not just give information, it should engage the audience.
Questions to think about when editing include “How will the audience feel?”, “Will my content make my readers engaged?”, “How to stimulate them to be proactive?”, etc.
Soon enough, your content will be ironed out and with the ability to interest, but also engage the audience and make them care by touching on subjects and values that they deem important.
Additionally, always have a second set of eyes to check your content. That set might see mistakes you missed out, and help ensure your content is fully ready for the public eyes.
You did your research, you know your audience, and have your content. Now it’s time to put it out into the world. And the next important step includes research.
Yes, be sure to research the media outlets you wish to release your content. Since you’ve done your research on the target audience, you know what interests they have, and which platforms they follow. So aim for those, but be sure that they fit into your context and industry.
Tips on researching media outlets revolve around focusing on their content. Does an online journal incorporate stories from your industry? Is it a specific FinTech journal and you’re a FinTech startup? Then it might be the right one for you. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the content they release, it will give you an idea of how your content will fit.
Contact different media outlets, journalists, social media influencers (depends on the interests of your audience) and pitch them your content. Remember that media platforms are not interested in the information, but rather the story. If you’ve followed Step 5 and edited your content to have more color, the platforms will like it, because they like a story.
An important thing to keep in mind is the media outlets and journalists that you contact. Be aware of the value such contacts can have. Establishing good relations with the outlets you contact can create a more trustworthy and loyal relationship, which secures a place for your content.
Thus, having a good relationship with journalists is imperative. Simply put, the trade off is that you have a platform to voice your ideas, and they have a reliable source of stories and newsworthy articles. Both of these benefit the viewership of their website, as well as the traffic to your website.
It also sets a nice pattern for how to structure future content you create. Since you will know the style of writing that these journalists prefer, you will format your stories in ways that the outlets will like, and most likely publish.
This step is all about building a network, and it’s a big part of spreading your brand’s name as a titan in the industry you aim to influence.
At this stage of your fresh campaign, your story will have started to generate views. People will begin noticing your company, and engaging with it in the context of the industry and the market you’re influencing.
Link building is taking advantage of all the talks about your company. Begin learning and using media monitoring tools. You can see here an extensive list of the most appropriate media monitoring tools and what they offer.
This way, whenever your company is mentioned online, you will keep track of those mentions and gain insights on what your audience thinks about your content and how you can improve.
Additionally, you can continue reaching out to online platforms with short thoughts and opinions on topics that involve you, so that they can add a link to your website, and mention you more frequently.
This alternative way of increasing traffic to your website makes your brand image stand out, while simultaneously giving you data sets that you can analyze in order to have a data-driven approach to your strategy, future content, and engagement with the audience.
Your campaign has generated results. And it’s of utter importance to keep track of those results, so you can act and react to the difference it made. Remember those goals you set for your campaign in the beginning? Were they achieved, or even surpassed? Check if these ultimate objectives have been achieved and if you feel satisfied with this change you’ve made.
What is more, you can think of other ways to measure unexpected impacts that your campaign has had. For example, initiate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that vary depending on your objectives and priorities. KPIs can be increasing organic traffic to your website, audience engagement with your company, social media reposting, etc. It all depends on what goals you’ve set for yourself.
Another important way to measure your success is Return on Investment (ROI). This is a more quantitative method that focuses on increase in sales. Have the numbers gone up? Then it’s most likely because of your campaign’s success.
Other ways include asking yourself questions related to your audience and your campaign. Is there a change in how the audience perceives your brand? What response did your key message get? Was there any negative response? The answers to these questions will tell you how your audience feels about your campaign.
By all means, you should be proud that you’ve achieved your goals and expanded your brand’s reputation. But the practices of Public Relations depend on consistency - they’re not a one-time thing. You will need to keep engaging and providing interesting content.
With this step, your campaign has been wrapped up, and all that’s left for you to do is capitalize on the success it has generated. Write a blog post for your own website, indicating the success of your campaign, and foreshadowing what’s next. Seizing the talks around your brand will increase the traffic to your website, where you will start generating an audience that will turn into a community.
Write a report on the campaign, its cost, aim, and achievements. The audience that makes up the already generated traffic will be more likely to stay. You will provide an engagement point for them to learn more about your company, what it does, what values it supports, and how it helps the community.
Just because the campaign ended doesn't mean the work has - make sure to have a follow up, be it a summary or analysis you can use to plan future activities and learn from the concluded campaign. If you haven’t noticed by now, research is key.
Creativity is important when writing up the substance of your content. Think about unique ways you can engage your audience via the written stories you release. Thinking outside the box will help you stand out from the crowd and present content that has not been seen before.
Not necessarily the substance, but the way you present it. Having a more creative perspective will resonate with your audience and engage them in ways that they have not seen before.
Brainstorming helps. A lot! In addition to brainstorming ideas for the content, brainstorm ideas for how to actually convey that content. You’ll end up with a unique piece that will undoubtedly be noticed by your audience.
Backlinks essentially score features for your brand on various journalists’ blogs or articles. It is strongly advisable to spread your brand’s name by giving your expert opinion within the industry you’re involved with.
Websites like Help a Reporter Out and Terkel are perfect for that task. They feature thousands of journalists who have questions on specific topics. Find the relevant topics for your business, and give your expert opinion. You will then be featured in articles, and your website will receive a link forwarding viewers to your brand.
This is a perfect practice for establishing yourself as a leading figure in your sphere of influence and more importantly, increasing trust and credibility the audience gains for your company.
Be attentive when you reach out to the journalists and media platforms. The most common method you’ll use is email, which is a method that the media is flooded with.
Make sure your email is engaging and interesting, as well as to the point.
Some tips to help you out with email structure for media relations. Refer to whoever you’re contacting by name to create a more familiar connection. Make sure to mention articles from that journalist’s platform in order to show that you are familiar with their work, and explain what you liked about their style as a reason to contact them.
Write briefly, and to the point. As mentioned, they receive a lot of emails, which is why you need your email to be short, concise, to the point, and unique.
When all is said and done, constructive feedback is never a bad thing. Asking for feedback will greatly improve your content. Whether you ask a fellow professional, or the public, you will receive a good indication of how and where you can improve.
Implementing feedback from your audience is even more important as it gives them a more engaging way of connecting to your brand. It also gives your customers the feeling of being heard. It shows that your company cares about its audience and wants to better their overall experience.
So don’t shy away from feedback, and look for ways to improve. With each piece of content you come one step closer to cementing your brand’s name and placing it on the map.
This mostly counts for when contacting media journalists via email. Avoid giving them the idea that they should be thankful for the opportunity. It should not be perceived that you think like that.
Instead, focus on showing that it’s an equal collaboration, or rather that you would be thankful for the opportunity to voice your brand and tell your story. It will make journalists more eager to work with you and also get a good first impression of your ability to cooperate with people and build a network.
So the first “don’t” is to not be arrogant and cocky. A humble posture goes a long way, and creates more willingness for cooperation.
If you happen to receive publicity with a negative connotation on the brand, do not ignore it. Most companies face situations where they appear to be in a bad light. Instead of ignoring it, you need to tackle it as fast as possible.
If you do nothing about the negative reputation, it has the potential to deepen and increase the public’s opinion that you might not care, or that the bad things are actually true.
Tackling the negative image is vital, because it increases communication and engagement with the public, and shows that you care. This is referred to as “Crisis Communication” and is important not to overlook and ignore it.
Whether it’s a press release, press conference, or other public activity, it has the potential to save your company from failing and staining its reputation with something unfixable.
Your audience will easily get bored if you don’t get to the point. Instead of trying to fill in the space by writing just anything, write your key message in a short and concise manner.
Writing brief paragraphs can be enough to engage your audience and make them want to find more. An abundance of information with no clear purpose is just overwhelming and can make them easily distracted, which points to their losing interest in your story.
Make sure you have answered the question “What is the purpose of this story?” in the first couple of sentences.
In addition, media journalists are also repelled by long, detailed emails, which aim to stuff as much information as possible, with the main goal of the email often being lost in the content. So apply that to emails too.
This last “don’t” is aimed at securing media relations and establishing a network. When you send emails to journalists or editors, not all of them will reply, and some of them might take longer than others.
It’s okay to send a check-up email if too much time has passed, and you need to fit into your own time frame. However, avoid spamming and pestering journalists with an inappropriate number of follow-up emails.
We ensure you, this will not help. Instead, they have a higher chance of disliking you and your pressure, and are very unlikely to want to ever work with you. In your attempt to build a media network for your brand, this pestering might be disruptive in your goal.
Avoid spams and writing too many follow-up emails. A couple is fine, but after that you should let it go and focus on more pressing matters.
If you’ve reached the end, this means you are fully prepared to start your very own PR campaign. Remember the steps, and pay attention to each one of them.
Everything starts with conducting proper research that will help the context of your brand. What are the interests of your target audience (who you want to focus on reaching)? What are your competitors? How do you stand out from the competition? What does the media find compelling about your story?
All these questions are imperative to the success of your campaign. Afterwards, your content will be written with attention to the details that these questions provide, and once edited will be pitched to the platforms that will share it.
Reaching the public is even more important than knowing who the public is. Which is why media relations are just as vital. Strike a long lasting relationship with the right journalists that will help tell your story and what is unique about your brand.
Don’t forget to keep in mind the ways you’ll measure your success and use that success to increase organic traffic to your website. SEO performance and media monitoring tools are perfect guides in that direction.
Lastly, the dos and don’ts in the process will help you stay grounded and remember what your main priorities are. And if feedback comes your way, take it with open arms, learn from your mistakes, and improve with each story you tell.