Carefully Crafted on March 18

Writing a PR Plan: Tools, Tips & Resources to Create an Effective Roadmap

It’s plan week here on prTini. We’ve talked about laying the foundation with solid PR research, writing goals/strategies/objectives, defining target audiences and writing key messages and brand vocabulary. Today, let’s spend a few minutes on tactics. This is the area that probably comes most naturally to you, right? It’s where we get down to the actual “doing” — the fun stuff!

A few words of advice:

  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Just as traditional PR is more than media relations, digital PR is more than Facebook and Twitter. Incorporate a diverse mix of tactics to more effectively work toward your goals.
  • Understand technology’s impact on communication. In addition to adding more tools to the communicator’s toolbox, technology has also shifted how individuals expect to be able to interact with companies. How are you adjusting your tactics to account for this shift?
  • Stay focused. What are you trying to accomplish? If a tactic won’t help you get from Point A to Point B, reevaluate if it’s worth your while. Avoid getting sidetracked by the latest “it” tool or network. Instead, maintain a laser-like focus on your goals and incorporate tactics that support those efforts.
  • Measure your efforts. How are you being judged? If you don’t know how your boss/client will evaluate PR success, how do you know if you’re doing a good job? Measure outputs and outcomes to show the value of your work. Don’t get so caught up in the day-to-day work that you forget to take a step back to assess if it’s working or not. If it’s working, how can you expand it? If it’s not working, what needs to be done to be more successful going forward?

Start by asking yourself this question: What mix of tools will help you achieve the desired outcomes?

While social media gets all the buzz, don’t think that that’s all you need to effectively communicate. Instead, plan for opportunities to integrate traditional and digital PR. Typically, plans include a mix of some of all of the following types of communication:

  • Media relations
  • Community relations
  • Leadership visibility (speaking and awards can fall under this section or be sections unto themselves)
  • Blogger outreach/influencer relations
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Website recommendations
  • Internal communication
  • Relationship marketing
  • Customer relations

You may also want to add content marketing to this list, or think about how to weave it throughout the plan. But, understand that content marketing is more than just what you’re putting on your blog. As Sarah Evans pointed out, we need to think of a blog posts as starting points, not the end. (Actually, that goes for media placements, too. Here are 10 ideas to get more out of PR clips.)

As you begin outlining your tactics, I suggest creating a tactic map. We do this with clients so we can see how activities build upon each other. You’ll be able to make sure tactics align to achieve the maximum bang for the buck. Here’s a sample tactic chart that you can customize to fit your own specific needs.

Template: Public Relations Plan Timeline

It’s your turn. I’d love to hear your plan-writing stories. What roadblocks do you run into? How do you overcome? What’s your secret to creating an effective plan?

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