And while many of you are onboard with the importance of having a strategy, many of you still don’t have one documented.
Shoemaker’s children and all of that.
Though I hope those of you who went through the 30-Day Communications Challenge have at least the framework built.
I understand how difficult—and overwhelming—it can be to simply get started.
Starting from scratch is never easy.
That’s why I’m sharing our favorite tools and resources for pulling your PR content strategy together.
It’s always 10,000,0000,000 times easier to have something on the screen to react to versus staring at white paper.
What is a PR Content Strategy?
A PR content strategy is a documented plan that identifies what content you’re creating, for which audience, to meet which objectives, and with what projected results. At a minimum, your plan should include:
- Brand personas
- Goal setting
- Editorial calendar
I’m not going to sugarcoat it.
Figuring out who your audience is and what their demographics are seem to be the hardest part of what we do.
It took us two years to get clearly defined demographics on the Spin Sucks community.
And it’s still not perfect data.
For instance, we show a good majority of you live in Chicago.
Even though, I know where some of your live.
Paula Kiger, for instance, shows up in our Chicago list, but she lives in Florida.
(Either that or she’s holding out on me and the software is way smarter than me.)
Drives me crazy.
When you know the data is imperfect, you have to find another way to get it so you can tailor your content.
Here are some tools to do just that:
- Akoonu. Erika Heald is a big fan of this tool. It allows you to map your content to the buyer’s journey, and crowdsource the creation and upkeep for your buyer personas.
- Up Close and Persona. A free persona creation tool created by a partnership between buyer persona pro Ardath Albee and MLT Creative.
- The Make My Persona tool from HubSpot. This has about 30 questions that range from title and organization size to industry and how they’re measured. It’s really easy to use, but you do have to really know the descriptors of your audience.
- How to Better Define Your Buyers to Boost Engagement Online. This article walks you through how to create relevant buyer personas to create content that drives engagement.
Not all of these tools will give you all of the data you need.
In some cases, you’ll have to combine it with your customer relationship management and/or email marketing software.
But you’ll quickly see how easy it is to build your audience profiles and create brand personas that nice combination.
If you did go through the 30-Day Communications Challenge, you have your goals finished already.
I believe we covered it on day seven or eight.
If, however, you did not go through the challenge, you can quickly get caught up.
You want to set SMARTER goals, which add “evaluate” and “re-evaluate” to the SMART goals many of you already know.
You also can check out how some of the Spin Sucks community are going to measure their goals this year in a recent Big Question community round-up.
For some reason, this tends to be really difficult for communications pros. We tend to say things such as, “Increase number of visitors to Spin Sucks” or “Increase share of voice.”
Neither of those are SMARTER goals.
I’ll give you that they’re specific (sort of) and relevant, but they’re not measurable, attainable, time-bound, nor do they have an evaluation technique.
A better, SMARTER goal is:
Increase number of visitors to Spin Sucks by four percent each month, for a total of 48 percent by year’s end.
This allows me to evaluate where we are each month and, if we haven’t reached the four percent goal, reevaluate if it is trend or it it was just a down month.
The only thing I’d add to this is a benchmark; i.e. how many visitors we had each month—by month—in 2016.
Continuing with the example above, I can very easily create a spreadsheet of monthly traffic from 2016 (and even compare it with years past) with Google Analytics.
It’s free and gives you so many of the metrics you need to prove the ROI of your PR content efforts.
Some other tools we love around these parts include:
- Moz Bar. If you are a Modern Blogging Masterclass student, this one won’t come as a surprise to you at all. This indispensable free tool allows you to track your own domain authority, and help you determine if you can compete on keyword topics.
- Bit.ly. Many people think of Bit.ly as a URL shortener. But that’s just scratching the surface of what it can do. When used in conjunction with a unique URL (which you can create with Google URL Builder), it can allow you to directly track the effectiveness of your various PR campaigns and channels.
- Cyfe. The free version limits how many channels you can connect, but it’s still a solid choice for visualizing your content and social media analytics.
Now that you know who you are targeting—and maybe even have names for your personas (I named one of ours Unicorn Laura)—and you have your goals with metrics tied to them, it’s time to get to work!
The PR content strategy isn’t complete without, well, content.
There are plenty of ways to create your editorial calendar.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- CoSchedule. We use Co-Schedule for managing our blog and social media and can’t recommend it enough. It is the most amazing thing EVER. OK, maybe not ever, ever, but I really love it. Anytime I schedule a post for publication, I click a template we created in CoSchedule and it schedules the post to be distributed several times throughout the month. So dang easy!
- Kapost. If you are managing content for multiple websites, or with a number of contributors and a detailed approval process, this is a good tool for handling it.
- WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin. If you are managing most of your content through your WordPress blog, this is a good way to create that workflow.
- Editorial Tips, Tools, and Templates from Content Marketing Institute.
The last piece of the PR content strategy is the easiest.
It doesn’t necessarily mean people will do their part, but it is pretty easy to assign tasks to subject matter experts.
Figure out who is responsible for each editorial content piece and get them to work.
For instance, let’s say you do communications for a restaurant.
In your December editorial calendar, you’ve noted that the 4th is National Cookie Day.
You need the executive chef to create a special cookie recipe for that day.
Your office manager will create a list of local businesses where you can deliver said cookies, and buy the packing materials.
And you will need to do some targeted media and influencer relations.
And then, on December 4, you’ll need errand runners.
With that team, you have delivered special cookies to TV stations, radio stations, media outlets, and influencers to celebrate National Cookie Day.
Now it’s Your Turn
Although you can get by with pen and paper to craft your PR content strategy, these tools and resources give you a head start…and make things easier.
(So long as you don’t get tool exhaustion, trying to use them all. #AllTheThings!)
Now it’s your turn!
What PR content strategy tools do you use and love?