Laura Petrolino

PR Plan Dos and Don’ts: Eight Ways to Maximize Your Results

By: Laura Petrolino | October 9, 2017 | 
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PR Plan Dos and Don'ts: Eight Ways to Maximize Your ResultsEvery journey starts with a roadmap and an effective PR plan is the roadmap you need to grow your business.

Unfortunately, like many things in life, that’s easier said than done.

Last week we talked about the GSOT, the four parts which make up a successful PR plan.

And while every plan is unique, there are some common dos and don’ts that lead to (or away from) a successful PR plan. 

Make sure you check these off as you work through your plan

PR Plan Dos

Let’s start with the things you need to do first.

Create Goals and Objectives Tied to Real Business Results

Gone are the days of measuring impressions or AVEs.

If your PR goal is “brand awareness,” you are stuck with an outdated perspective on communications and how it can affect your business.

Goals should be aligned with business goals and in turn, your objectives should include PR metrics such as revenue, leads generated, leads converted, and so on.

Specifics will change depending on your business.

Always, always make sure your PR is aligned with the business as a whole.

This means you can’t work in a silo (which we will talk about more below).

Finally, make sure set measurable objectives with specific targets aligned with the overall business goal.

If you want to double revenue by the end of the year:

  • How many leads do you need to generate?
  • How much do you need to increase your conversation rate?
  • What type of retention percentage do you need?

You should be able to clearly see the ROI of PR. If you can’t, you’ve measured the wrong things.

Use the Four Media Types

PR is not media relations.

You know this. You want to shout it from the rooftop.

But unfortunately, often your client or executive team has a set perspective on what PR is, so while you are over here talking about driving leads and conversion funnels, the people who you report to are asking when they’ll be in the New York Times.

<<Perpetual sigh>>>

The beauty of a PR plan is you are able to clearly lay out how all the pieces work together and why it’s important that PR ISN’T just media relations.

To do so, your PR plan should be based on the PESO model.

As PR pros we know today’s communications climate require organizations to integrate their work through each of these media types and through their organization as a whole.

Let’s use our PR plan to prove it to our clients and bosses.

Integrate Throughout the Entire Organization

Just say no to silos.

Speaking of integration…..an effective pr plan must work across all organizational functions.

Public relations can’t happen in a silo.

Nor can marketing, sales, operations, human relations, and so on…

Each arm of an organization must be open and collaborative with the other for a PR plan to be maximally effective.

You should ask questions such as:

  • What questions does your sales team get most often from prospects?
  • Do front-line representatives across the organization present the same brand personality and message as the executive team and communications sets forth?
  • When public relations drives leads to the organization, how do they transfer through the pipeline and coordinate with sales?
  • What struggles do operations have that public relations needs to be aware and proactively address?

The more integrated and collaborative organizational departments are with each other, the more successful their PR plan and business results.

Break down silos now. Don’t wait for it to be done for you.

As the communicator, it’s your responsibility to excavate these important elements from the other departments. And then pull it all together in your plan.

Likewise, make sure you don’t forget the internal communications aspect of a plan either.

Create a Clear Messaging Document

Consistency is the bosom buddy of integration when it comes to effective communications and a successful PR plan.

One needs the other to survive. And nothing destroys customer trust more than inconsistent messaging. That’s why a cornerstone of any PR plan should be a clear messaging document.

It should include:

  • Missions statement
  • Key message
  • Secondary messages
  • Audience-specific messages (if you speak to multiple audiences)
  • Brand personality

If you have multiple people, and even parts of the organization, as touchpoints for customers, you’ll probably also want to have an extended personality document section as part of this.

Keep it updated, distributed across the organization, and make sure all parts of the organization are in agreement.

No use in having key messages if sales or operations don’t feel like they adequately speak to the business and so don’t use them.

PR Plan Don’ts

Here are the ones that make us cringe.

A whole lot of no, no, no going on in here.

Make sure you aren’t making one of these mistakes.

Rely on News Releases

If you default is to “send out a news release” when you want to get word out about something, then you need to take another look at your PR plan.

When used alone, not only are news releases bad at producing quality media placements, they are useless to generate business for your organization. And that’s the ultimate goal of a PR plan, right?.

News releases can be used strategically in conjunction with an integrated plan, but don’t expect many quality results if they ARE your plan.

Just. Say. No.

Focus on Ego vs. Results 

What’s the main goal of your PR plan?

A boost to your ego or actual business results.

Almost all of us would say the later, but when you evaluate the choices you make in your plan, they often speak a different story.

  • Is your goal placements in biggest name publications or ones that speak best to your target customer and drive actual business results? (These are VERY often not the same.)
  • Do you try to build social media accounts that have more fans and followers, or one with engaged communities?
  • What do you measure to determine success? Ego metrics like impressions, follower number, publication size? Or result metrics like leads generated and converted?

Determine your business goals.

Create a PR plan that drives those goals.

Remove the rest.

Ego might make you feel good, but it doesn’t build businesses or drive revenue. You chose what’s most important and build your communications plan around that choice.

Try to Be Everywhere

Just as your PR plan shouldn’t target everyone, it also shouldn’t include every communications platform available.

Even brands with budgets and resources the size of Apple and Pepsi are strategic on which communications platforms they focus their efforts.

Go where your customer is.

Find what your customer trusts.

Learn how your customer consumes information which helps them make purchase decisions.

Understand who they are and develop a plan to suit.

If your customer is on Facebook, you probably should be there too. If they aren’t, is there any reason for you to be?

The communications landscape is a very powerful and vast place right now. There are a lot of platforms, tools, and modes available to communicate with our target customer.

That doesn’t mean we need to use all of them.

Pick your poison and make it strong.

Oh Look….a Bird! And it Just Derailed Your Communications Plan

Do you have communications ADD?

You come up with a PR plan, but then….

You might be out on the golf course with colleagues, or at dinner with friends, maybe visiting relatives, and a PR birdie flies by.

You hear about “the latest thing”  your friend Joe used to drive a ton of leads. Or maybe something “all the kids use.” And you decide if it worked for them it might work for you.

So you abandoned your previously decided upon plan and jump to the next big thing.

You don’t see results right away, so you jump again. Maybe you end up with a bunch of non-integrated pr and communications tactics as a result. All of them at work with no real leading strategy.

Pretty soon you end up with a bunch of non-integrated communications tactics as a result. All of them at work with no real focused strategy.

You max out your time and budget and don’t see results, so you dump it all and start fresh with the next thing you hear or read about.

Oy! Does your head hurt already? Mine does.

Please stop.

You have communications ADD and it’s killing your business.

A PR plan that drives business results never comes in the form of a magic diet pill. It takes time and consistent, strategic implementation. When you jump from one tactic to the next, with no guiding strategy, you not only waste time and money, you alienate your consumer due to inconsistent and sporadic communication.

PR Plan Success

A successful PR plan integrates all the working pieces through the PESO model.  It’s specific, measurable, and drives real business results.

The post last week along with these PR plan dos and don’ts build a PR plan template for you to use as you build your 2017.

Next week we will talk about the importance of context in a PR plan.

Need more help?

Join the PR Dream Team and let us help you build a successful 2018 PR plan.

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks.

  • Edward M. Bury

    Excellent and sound commentary regarding development of a PR plan. One more to consider: Make sure activities detailed in the plan meet the client’s budget. Money still drives the scope and level of counsel provided.

    • Ohhhhh! YES! Excellent addition. In fact, I might write another post specifically about that. Good call Edward. Thank you!

    • And beer. It provides beer.

      • Edward M. Bury

        Yes, hopefully good beer.

  • Sarah Chain

    Great to see a messaging document included here — even if efforts are integrated (which they should be!) across an organization or company, it’s a moot point if the message isn’t consistent across communications.

    • Yes! And so often the comms and/or executive team *think* everyone is on the same page with messaging, when it’s often completely disjointed!

  • KensViews

    I sometimes think we should call it EOSP, because professionals writing these decks will be focused more on the Earned, Owned and Shared content more than Paid at this point. Of course EOSP doesn’t sound quite as elegant. Perhaps ESOP? (Though I think we focus first on what we own vs what we hope will be shared, no?) I somehow think I saw Gini write something in this regard…

    • I think she did too. But I like PESO because it stand for money and when you use the PESO model you bring in the money!! It’s symbolic! Honestly, I’d probably do it as OESP just in how I normally build things out.

      • KensViews

        If you look at the chron path many pros have taken (and this certainly is changing!) Is that first they started in Earned (Classic publicity, PR and media relations) then Owned (Website) Shared (Social, etc) and then some, but not all have ventured into Paid. This comes up often for me, because in my biz dev workshops, I have them review their PESO (And yes, I give SpinSucks and Gini D appropriate credit) and many aren’t yet doing Paid…

        • Oh yes, for sure. I’m just talking about my personal process. This is all about me, afterall. Geez!

          • KensViews

            It IS all about you!

    • I actually think we should start with O because, without it, you have nothing for the other three. But OSEP or OESP isn’t memorable.

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