All too often, public relations is viewed in terms of special events and one-off activities that attract attention for a short time but often fail to yield a long-term payoff.
Special events do have a place. New product launches, grand openings or service changes all cry out for some kind of attention-getting activity that can immediately signal that something is new or different. When successful, the payback can result in immediate gratification: widespread publicity and awareness and a corresponding surge in response from your target audience.
Ongoing public relations campaigns, however, are different. They require careful planning, patience and a long-term view of what denotes success in your overall marketing plan.
How to plan a PR campaign
No two public relations plans are alike. However, in more than three decades of creating and implementing public relations campaigns, the most successful campaigns we have developed at our PR firm have been derived from a disciplined approach that invariably has heightened the chances of success—and marketing impact—for our clients.
- Find an interesting subject
In order for a campaign to be successful, the subject must be newsworthy, engaging and different. It should get people talking. Media must want to cover it, and consumers must want to read it, share it and engage with it. To determine whether your story is “newsworthy”, try to place yourself in the mind of your target audience. What might feel like news to you may not provide a big enough hook to those who aren’t yet invested in the minutiae of your brand.
- Link to your brand message
It’s not enough for your story to simply be newsworthy; it must also communicate the message that your brand wants to convey if it is to be truly effective. Generating a conversation is meaningless if it doesn’t help you to achieve your business’s goals.
Ask yourself what you are ultimately trying to achieve. Are you trying to change perceptions of your brand? Raise awareness of a new product or service? Promote your unique selling proposition? Establish your brand as an expert in a certain field? Reach a new audience?
Whatever your strategic goals, a sound campaign will help you achieve them by providing you with an opportunity to communicate your message in a way that connects with the audience you are trying to reach. There is no point in pouring effort into a story that offers no opportunity to meaningfully link back to what your brand really wants to say.
- Identify the right time
Timing is crucial, and a badly timed campaign can have a detrimental effect on its chances of success. This has never been more apparent than during the COVID crisis, when so many brands have learned that undertaking a campaign that seems tone deaf, insensitive or irrelevant to people’s current circumstances can do more harm than good.
However, during less exceptional times, the most successful campaigns will always be those that are topical and tap into the moment. Before launching a campaign ask yourself, “why now?”. If the answer is not obvious, or if you can think of another time that would be more relevant for the launch, it is better to launch the campaign at a time that offers a better chance at success.
To help determine the best time for your campaign, stay in tune with your audience and ensure you are putting out content when they are most likely to be susceptible to your messaging.
- Ensure you have an opportunity to drive traffic
PR has the power to drive high quality, targeted traffic that is already engaged in your brand, product or industry. This traffic can be directed to your website or to your store or office, where you will ultimately have the opportunity to convert the traffic into sales.
To maximize online traffic, ensure that the web links are relevant and add value for the reader by offering them the opportunity to find out more about what they have just read or to gain tips and advice. If driving web traffic is your primary goal, efforts should be focused on securing online coverage, including within online media outlets, e-newsletters and on social media, where you will have the opportunity to include click-through links to relevant content on your website. That said, never underestimate the power of print media coverage for generating brand awareness—it’s just harder to track through web traffic.
- Plan for multi-platform content
Rolling a campaign out across multiple platforms will maximize exposure and impact. To determine which platforms to prioritize, consider your audience and target the channels that they engage with. Think beyond the traditional media outlets they might read and consider ways to engage with them across other platforms that they use, including social channels. It is vital that the content appears in places your audience trusts and spends time.
- Measure success
Measuring success is one of the most important aspects of a successful PR campaign. Lacking analysis and measurement of results, you have no way of knowing whether the campaign was successful in achieving what it set out to achieve.
It’s crucial to measure against the initial goals for the campaign. If your goal was to drive web traffic, measure the number of hits you received from websites and social media pages that covered your story. If your objective was to reach an audience of high earners, evaluate whether the campaign was featured in places that attract this demographic. If you aimed to change the perception of your brand, assess whether the campaign conveyed your new key messages. Column inches and large readerships are meaningless if they are wasted on the wrong audience or fail to clearly communicate your brand’s message.
Count on Wellons Communication for sound public relations strategies
Clients at our Orlando PR firm expect results from their marketing dollars.
We view our role as finding and developing a path to achieve those results and make an impact on your bottom line. And we believe that campaigns, carefully thought out and conducted in a disciplined fashion, are an important key to achieving marketing success.
If you’re exploring PR agencies in Orlando, look to us to help you go beyond one-off events. Call on us to develop, execute and measure public relations campaigns that deliver ongoing, long-term results and reputation building that can benefit your business.