6 Steps to Creating a PR Plan

6 Steps to Creating a PR Plan

Weslie Oeftering
Weslie Oeftering
6 Steps to Creating a PR Plan

I would love to be able to say that when it comes to executing public relations campaigns you can just jump right in. You can, but you shouldn’t. As is the case with almost everything, PR initiatives tend to go better when you make (and follow) plans to achieve your goals. Don’t worry, though! It’s not as complicated as it sounds. I’ll let you in on a secret: when you know all the parts, creating a PR plan is easy. Since PR can make or break a company (a good crisis communications plan is a big reason that Wells Fargo is still around), I think everyone should know the six steps to crafting a perfect plan.

Step 1: Define specific and realistic objectives and outcomes

What exactly is it that you want out of this PR campaign? While saying that you want to increase website traffic by 50 percent is a specific objective, it’s important to make sure it’s also a realistic outcome for your company at its current stage. This requires taking a sober look at where your company is – which can be hard when you’re on the inside, but as long as your honest with yourself it is very doable.

Step 2: Establish goals

What are the basic steps you need to take in order to reach your main objectives? What happens after you reach your goal? If you do manage to increase your website’s traffic by 50 percent, then you have to make sure that the servers can handle it. Reaching your objective but not planning for the outcome can ruin all the hard work you did to get there.

Step 3: Identify your target audience

Who are you trying to communicate with and influence in order to reach your goal? If you’re trying to market a new heart monitoring device, then targeting doctors is an alright start. Targeting cardiologists in the Midwest is even better. Targeting cardiologists in Chicago, Minneapolis and Cleveland is great. Like I said before, the importance of specificity can’t be overlooked in a PR plan.

Step 4: Develop your plan of attack

Oreo Vault brand activation was the result of a great PR PlanWhich PR tools are you going to use to reach your target audience? There are many to choose from but every situation requires a different mix of each. For example, when Oreo introduced its new cupcake flavored filling in 2016, they created a “Wonder Vault” brand activation in the middle of New York City – but they didn’t just stop there. Even though they placed the activation in an area with hundreds of thousands of people, they still reached out to the press and posted on social media to advertise the event. The activation was a success because they developed a plan of attack that helped them cover all the bases of their PR plan.

Step 5: Organize a calendar to keep your plan on track

Try to look ahead one year into the future and create a timeline for executing each part of your plan of attack up until that date. How many days before the brand activation does the social media campaign need to start? How many days after until it ends? A calendar will keep you on track, which will help you keep your cool when your biggest deadlines start to approach. 

Step 6: Measure outcomes and value results

Most companies will not measure the value of their outcomes based on ROI alone. In PR, the value of a campaign isn’t just monetary. There are two other ways that you should consider when measuring value:

  • Utility: What did a certain method of doing things accomplish that another method never could? If you did something the cheap way, then you’ll more than likely get cheap results. When you spend a little more money on a better method, results are bound to be more to your liking.
  • Brand awareness: what the campaign did for your brand’s awareness in its target market in general. When your organization gains enough brand recognition in its particular industry, the word-of-mouth is a powerful tool.

Just because an organization didn’t get the return on their investment that they were hoping for does not mean that the campaign did not fundamentally change the trajectory of their company for the better.

Once you’ve made your plan you still have to ask yourself some key questions:

  • What tools do you need for this plan that you don’t already have?
  • Is your overall goal more about around brand awareness or establishing expertise?
  • Is your company’s reputation solid or are you launching this campaign in the midst of a crisis (PR or otherwise)?
  • Are the members of other departments in the organization on board with the PR campaign and is it in-line with their pre-established goals and objectives?
  • Do you need to hire anyone to help you?
  • What’s the budget?

At this point, you’ve more than likely gathered that the steps to creating a PR plan are pretty involved. However, if you know your company well and really care about its future success (and we know you do), committing yourself to creating a great PR plan instead of jumping the gun is one of the best things you can do for your organization.


About Weslie Oeftering: Weslie is a student at The University of Texas at Austin and Swyft’s resident PR and marketing intern. She supports clients with social media, blogging, and tech PR activities. You can find more of her academic and professional work on her website. Swyft is a PR and marketing agency with offices in Austin, Houston, and Denver that provide services for tech companies all around the world who are seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of their services include content marketing, social media strategy, as well as ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

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