How to Develop a Successful PR Strategy

11/30/2016 09:41 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Have you started noticing your competitors in the media?

They have most likely started using public relations (PR) tactics to build their profile and are proactively pitching stories to the media. So if you want a piece of the media action you need to start doing some PR for yourself.

If this is the case, you first need to set the stage and develop a PR strategy.

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A PR strategy will help you organise your PR activities and make strategic decisions about the best ways to communicate. It can also help you to use the stories in your business to draw in your target audience as well as increase your profile and build brand awareness.

Here are six questions that will help you develop a strong PR strategy.

What is your end game?
When creating a PR strategy it's important to outline your goals and objectives for what you want to achieve.

For example, you may want to launch a new service division of your business and raise awareness of it in the market. Or you may want to position your product or service as the leader in its category. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (also known as SMART).

Who is your target audience?
Your target audience are the individuals, groups and communities that have influence and decision making power over your products or services. They are the ones you are trying to attract and sell to - they are the people you want to communicate with.

To understand who your target audience is start by thinking who would be interested in hearing about your business, who are key decision makers, who will have the greatest impact on the business' outcomes and who will take action or purchase your products/service.

Once you've identified your target audience, research their behaviours, such as what publications they read and how they consume media. By defining your target audience you can tailor your communication to suit their behaviours and therefore increase the effectiveness of your PR strategy.

What are your key messages?
Key messages are the core messages you want your target audience to hear and remember about you and your business. They are an important part of a PR strategy because they can shape your content and communicate a unified message.

You can include key messages in your written and spoken communication to convey a specific message about your business to your target audience.

The best key messages are believable, easy to understand, distinctive, credible, succinct and drive your agenda.

For example, a key message for a business may be: [insert business] is a leader in the [insert industry], by always staying on top of industry trends to produce cutting edge products.

What are your tactics?
Tactics are the activities that will help you to achieve your PR objectives. If we use the example of raising awareness of a new service division, one tactic may be distributing a media release. This would be sent to publications relevant to your industry and target audience with the goal of securing an article about the new service.

Other tactical options include email newsletters, social media campaigns, blogs, public speaking or pitching interesting story ideas about your business to journalists.

A good place to start is to make a list of the types of publications your target audience reads, the events they go to and how they spend their time online. This may help to guide what type of tactics will work for you.

Do you have a deadline?
You should also put time frames around each tactic to ensure they are completed in a timely manner.

For example, you could create an action plan which details the PR activities for a particular month. Outline things like: who will complete them, when you will start the activities and the deadline for completion.

A PR strategy with detailed time frames can help you to organise your workload, ensures accountability and makes sure you don't forget to complete a set task.

How to know if it was successful or not?
It's important to measure the success of your PR strategy. Consider creating your own measurement tools or set key performance indicators (KPIs) for what you want to achieve. You could also measure your success on whether you achieved your goals in the set time frame.

By monitoring your success you can determine whether your PR activities are working and discover the areas you need to improve on. It's also a good idea to regularly review your PR strategy to ensure it's working effectively.

A PR strategy enables you to consider every aspect of communicating a message in the best possible way. It will also help you to maximise the success of your PR efforts and help to grow your business.

About the author
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. www.unknowntoexpert.com

Catriona is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business. www.cpcommunications.com.au