How to Winterize Your Public Relations PlanBy Anthony Hardman

Winter is coming (or maybe it’s already here for some of you).

Where I’m from (Cleveland, Ohio), that means it’s time to check my car battery, replace tires, and make sure everything checks out under the hood.

Much like taking care of a vehicle, it also means now is the time for PR pros to dust off their strategic plans and give them a much needed tune-up.

In 2014, 46 percent of organizations operated without a digital marketing strategy, and only 44 percent of marketers had a content strategy.

That makes me wonder, how many organizations are operating without a PR plan?

The good news is that even if you’re writing a public relations plan for the first time, you’re likely ahead of the curve.

So, how do you develop an effective plan, and more importantly how do you get c-suite buy-in?

Well, there are several steps you can take to ensure success.

Start with Goals and Work Backwards

Much like writing a story, writing a public relations plan requires a framework.

Starting with goals is the best way to build it with the end in mind.

When considering goals, don’t think in terms of earning five more placements than last year, or gaining more followers on Twitter.

While those are great things to strive for, those metrics don’t mean much to senior executives.

You need to tie your goals to business objectives.

Does your company want to increase revenue by 15 percent?

Or do you want to gain traction against competitors in a new market segment, or increase employee engagement?

First, figure out where your company or clients are headed, and then set tactical goals to support that direction.

Recommend Tactics

Once the business goals give you a destination, you will need a roadmap to guide you there.

That’s where tactical PR elements come in.

If the goal is to increase revenue, there are several initiatives you can implement to support that.

For example, use your website as a hub and distribute content via paid and owned media. This will create awareness and give you the ability to track referral traffic back to your site.

You can also give earned media extra legs by posting it to your website, and then promoting it in the same way.

If the goal is to gain traction in a new market, seek media in that segment and align your media relations efforts with editorial calendars.

Though, don’t be afraid to pitch stories outside of the calendar as most journalists are always looking for good stories.

Think about each goal and recommend tactics to achieve them.

Be flexible throughout the year, and change course if something isn’t working.

Establish Measurement Now, Not Later

Measuring success is probably the most important part of your public relations plan, because it is how you validate all the work you do.

There are a lot of different things you can measure, but just like goals and tactics, you have to tie it to the business.

If you are B2C, and have ecommerce, you can track actual spend from awareness with Google analytics.

If you’re B2B, you can track leads to conversions with marketing automation platforms such as Hubspot, or create a survey of new customers to gauge the percent of revenue that was influenced by PR efforts.

Offering a chance to win something, or another incentive, will encourage people to answer your survey.

Your Public Relations Plan

Just like a car, your public relations plan needs regular maintenance. (click to tweet).

Take a look at it every quarter, evaluate your progress, make necessary changes, and continually measure.

As long as you know where you’re going, check the directions, and measure distance, you can cruise through 2015.

P.S. Just a reminder that there will be no blog posts Thursday or Friday.

Anthony Hardman

Anthony Hardman is a senior public relations executive who has worked in media, government, information security and most recently as Director of PR for an integrated advertising agency. He shines at guiding clients in executing unified campaigns that earn results by combining digital marketing strategy with tactical PR elements. When he's not pitching media, studying analytics, or tweeting, Anthony enjoys brewing and drinking beer.

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