How To Create a Winning PR Strategy in 2021


Mary Jenkins
How To Create a Winning PR Strategy in 2021

2020 showed us all how unpredictable the world and corresponding business environment can be. It was evidence of how important strategy is for not just success, but also survival. 

With the unpredictability of 2020 in mind, every tech startup should create a PR plan for 2021 in order to win valuable media coverage, drive brand awareness across key audiences, and prepare for any bumps in the road. 

There are several key elements that go into a measurable PR strategy. When done right, a fully developed plan can set your startup up for success against established industry competitors by winning more share of voice, driving website traffic and even building the sales funnel. 

Here are Swyft’s best tips on how to create a PR plan for 2021.

Look in the rearview mirror 

Regardless if you pivoted your plan for 2020 due to the pandemic, or managed to stay on track, evaluate your tech startup’s PR activities with a critical eye. What was successful? What didn’t go according to plan? Answers to these ‘rearview mirror’ questions will help you better understand what should be repeated and what should be avoided in the coming year. While a year-end PR review is not a way to future proof against unknowns — who saw the Covid-19 pandemic this time last year? — it will help inform and shape your PR strategy going forward. 

Include key stakeholders 

You can’t effectively create a PR plan unless you identify all key stakeholders (C-Suite, product marketing executives, HR, etc.) and find out what expectations they have of your tech startup’s PR investment. These key stakeholders will lay the groundwork for the strategic initiatives your tech startup will undertake in the upcoming year. They will know the strategic vision and messaging that you or your tech PR agency have to capture and articulate when developing media campaigns and executing media outreach. 

Be a thought influencer 

Now more than ever thought leadership — or as we like to say, thought influencer — is key to an effective PR strategy. Serving as a thought leader is likely to drive ongoing brand awareness and even new business during uncertain times. Key stakeholders are best positioned to ideate and submit contributed articles to industry publications and mainstream media like the Forbes Technology Council, which is ideal for CTOs with established social brands. Throw in speaking opportunities at conferences—which have likely moved to a virtual format in the upcoming year—and you have a thought leadership track you can include in your 2020 PR strategy.

Don’t forget events

Given the current state of affairs around the world, it’s important to be flexible when adding trade shows to your 2021 PR strategy. Next year’s events appear to be following the virtual trend, at least through the first six months of the year. Top tech conference CES, for example, is moving to an entirely virtual format for 2021 while major healthcare conference HIMSS is anticipating an in-person event but has moved their annual conference from January 2021 to mid-August 2021.

The situation is unforeseeable, so plan as best you can and fit all options into your budget to avoid unexpected expenses. Make a list of the trade shows and other sponsored events your tech startup plans to attend by speaking to your marketing team. Next, prioritize that list and align them based on the upcoming year’s marketing budget. Events where your company plans to buy a booth and send company staff should take precedence as that’s where the lion’s share of the marketing budget will invariably go. 

Create a budget

There’s no denying that coming up with a budget for your 2021 PR strategy is often a guessing game, especially after all that 2020 threw us. Still, when it comes time to create a PR plan for 2021, developing a budget is critical to planning for and adequately resourcing your important PR activities, especially if Covid-19 tightened your financial resources. 

We recommend that you not only look at the past year’s activities as a barometer of future spend but that you also create a line-item budget based on your anticipated 2021 PR plan. Some common line-item expenses include the cost of an outside tech PR agency, travel and lodging to an annual trade show, wire releases, media collateral, award nomination fees, etc. This will make analyzing your year-end results easier when it comes to building out your next year’s budget. 

Organization is key

Last but not least, take all of your key announcements and drop them into a calendar by month to give visibility to the upcoming planned activities. Consider either using color-coding or creating line separators for the different activities based on whether it’s a product launch, speaking opportunity, startup funding announcement, contributed thought leadership articles, etc. 

You may even want to break the 2021 PR plan into H1 and H2, or take it a step further and break it down by quarter. A lot can change in six months (as we witnessed in 2020), so giving your team or tech PR agency a chance to review the PR plan and make changes each quarter and mid-year is an absolute must.

About Mary Jenkins: Mary is a Senior Communications Associate for Swyft, which is a tech PR agency in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft recently opened a satellite office where it offers tech PR in San Francisco. Swyft was also listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas by the B2B services review site, Clutch.co.

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