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If your PR goal is “brand awareness,” you are stuck with an outdated perspective on communications and how it can affect your business.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

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 customers.

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 Ppan

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. 

(Obviously, all of these things were pre-COVID, but a girl can dream this will be a reality again, right?)

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.

Communications ADD

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 2021.

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

Need more help?

Take a look at the PESO Model Certification. It gives you to tools you need to avoid the most common PR don’ts and build a measurable, successful, and integrated pr plan. 

Learn More

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino