Public relations is not a magic pill, nor is it a band-aid for ineffective marketing campaigns or broken systems. Rather, public relations feeds into a company’s overall marketing strategy by raising brand awareness in the form of earned media, speaking engagements, content, thought leadership, digital, and more. Your communications plan must therefore take customers, employees, departments, and competing business priorities into account in order to be successful.
Here are three critical questions to answer before developing a strategic communications plan for your business.
1. Who is my ideal customer?
Understanding the ins and outs of your target demographic is a critical first step to developing a strong communications plan. Surprisingly, many companies go on to develop messaging and strategy without a complete understanding of who the customer(s) is. Questions to keep in mind are:
- What’s the age and job title of my ideal customer? Who do they report to?
- What frustrates/excites/concerns my ideal customer?
- What publications or news outlets does my ideal customer read, watch, and listen to?
- What keeps them up at night?
The most effective way to reach your ideal customer through media relations or marketing is to know exactly who they are in the workplace and out. This will also help your company identify keywords, which social platforms to prioritize, and how to best leverage inbound marketing efforts to reach your target demographic – all of which trickle down to creating an effective PR plan for your business.
2. What critical factors does my company need to be successful now?
Let’s face it: The economy can be fickle and businesses of all sizes must quickly adapt to unforeseen circumstances as a result. The pandemic of 2020 taught us that staying nimble is vital during times of uncertainty or crisis, and the same can be said about your PR plan.
The most effective PR plans are those that can pivot and grow with the company during good and bad times. This involves keeping all departments in mind when developing the communications roadmap. The sales team may need stronger case studies and news that highlight the company’s product suite. Human Resources may be aiming for an aggressive hiring goal and need to showcase the company’s culture and development opportunities to attract new talent.
Look at the company as a whole to identify what is needed most to make it successful in the near and long term. Your PR plan will reflect your business’s top priorities and be flexible enough to change and grow along with it.
3. Do you have buy-in from leadership?
The leadership team must be fully invested in the PR approach in order for it to work, and be prepared to contribute their time and expertise when appropriate. Most companies dream of a feature in the Wall Street Journal, but the criteria to meet that goal requires a variety of elements such as a unique angle, third-party validation from customers or analysts, hard data, the willingness to share financial information about M&A activity, and compelling thought-provoking perspectives from a subject matter expert in the executive suite. And that’s just for one article!
Given this, it’s crucial that your leadership team buys into the time, energy, and effort that is often required to execute a successful communications plan. Many of KCD PR’s clients have mastered this with CEOs actively involved in providing their perspectives related to timely, breaking news stories and jumping on media interviews with tight turnarounds. Once the PR plan is built out, it takes a village to make all of it work smoothly.
Keep in mind that all public relations plans must be revised every six to 12 months, meaning your PR team needs to be in open dialogue with key stakeholders to understand shifting business priorities. There is no perfect plan out there, but you can create a successful PR campaign by answering these top three questions, remaining flexible and focused.