7 Steps for Creating a Public Relations Plan

Strategic planning is an important step sometimes overlooked in the rush of everyday business and getting things done, but taking the time to build one will save time and money long term. Building off of classic business and strategic planning concepts, this list will outline steps that you’re probably familiar with, and should be treated akin to a checklist: a simple reminder of the necessities.

  1. Clearly Define Your Objective

How you design the plan depends heavily on your goal. Do you wish to generate sales, build goodwill in your community, establish your expertise, or introduce a new product or service? It is important to have a clear and focused objective, and create a strong foundation for your plan.

  1. Create Measurable Goals

Goals are just a way of breaking your objective into measurable chunks, needing to be specific, whereas your goal is broad. Goals should be highly specific and time-bound, while being aligned tightly with the desired results created by your objective. Giving your team a specific goal garners results, while giving them an objective generates questions.

  1. Audience or Message Building

Defining the target audience of your campaign gives the campaign focus, and a bulls-eye to shoot for. Determining audience is when you should look to craft your key messages and your call-to-action, tailoring it to your audience.

  1. Pick Your Communication Platforms

Which public relations platforms are you pursuing? Articles, interviews, radio, seminars, customer success stories, press releases, public event sponsorship, social media? Each platform has specific needs, potential costs, planning stages and various levels of execution, all needing to be examined and (possibly) budgeted for.

  1. Schedule

Develop a clear schedule of the overall campaign. Scheduling should capitalize on any synergistic opportunities, such as a radio ad mentioning a televised interview, or your social media post linking to a specific page for the campaign on your website. It should build off of and work around your other marketing and sales efforts. 

  1. Execute

Time to hit the big red button. Your campaign needs a clear starting point, and this is it. You need to be ready to act quickly in case there are unforeseen problems, and you need to gauge initial response in case any of your later plans require adjustment or editing. Remember that at this stage of the game, there’s still time to remedy problems.

  1. Review

Now it becomes important to do some Monday morning quarterbacking. Both during and after your plan, you should review the measurable goals built in step 2, but also try and gain broader insight into what worked and what didn’t during your campaign. It can be helpful for a larger organization to do this at several levels, including the top down and bottom up analysis of the public relations strategy plan.

While not a formal step, a good place to ‘end’ your campaign is by capturing the new ideas that were generated. New plans and strategies crop up unexpectedly throughout the process but often need to be shelved for future campaigns. With one successful campaign down, it will be easier to build the new ones down the line.