How To Create a Public Relations Strategy in 5 Steps [2023-2024 Guide]

Public Relations
How To Create a Public Relations Strategy in 5 Steps [2023-2024 Guide]
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: December 13, 2023

The global public relations (PR) market is expected to be valued at $107 billion in 2023, which is a 6.6 percent% increase compared to $100.4 billion the previous year.

PR can assist businesses in connecting with their target audience, but it is much more than that. It is an excellent method of managing brand image, increasing credibility, attracting ideal customers' attention and retaining brand loyalty.

This article, backed by experts from a leading public relations firm, will discuss the significance of a successful public relations strategy and outline five actionable steps for developing a successful PR plan.

What Is a Public Relations Strategy?

A public relations strategy is a set of steps and actions that help a brand organize and execute its coverage on various media outlets. It determines the best way to communicate with the target audience and aims to improve the overall brand image.

A PR strategy spreads the word about a business, its products and services, in order to improve brand recognition and reputation, as well as to maintain a positive relationship with its customers.

The development and implementation of a PR strategy help businesses:

  • Generate the general public’s interest in their products/services
  • Organize messaging and storytelling in a way that resonates with their audience
  • Influence the public perception of their brand

"If I was down to my last dollar, I'd spend it on PR" - Bill Gates

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Five Steps on How To Create a Successful Public Relations Strategy

Now that we’ve covered all the compelling reasons to start creating the PR strategy, it’s time to discuss how to actually do it – step by step.

Step #1: Define Your PR Goals

Knowing the exact results you wish to achieve will determine the steps involved in creating a public relations strategy.

Your objectives will also help you define your messaging in order to connect with your audience.

Your PR goals should be results-oriented and SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.

  • Specific: What do you want to achieve? What is the purpose of your PR? Where will it be done (using which channels)?
  • Measurable: How will you know if you’ve reached your goal? Can you track the progress of your PR campaign?
  • Achievable: Is your goal feasible? Have you set goals that are realistic, reasonable and within your standards?
  • Relevant: Is the goal worthwhile? Is it consistent with your branding? Does it fit with your business plan?
  • Timely: When do you want to accomplish your goal?

You may also want to consider some of these PR goals:

  • Improving your brand reputation and image
  • Boosting your brand awareness
  • Increasing the demand for your goods
  • Being perceived as a thought authority in your industry

Be wary of the difference between a PR goal and a PR objective. While your PR goal may be vague and broad, the objective should be more specific.

For example, a goal for a high-end, classic menswear brand may be improving its brand reputation as its customer base is decreasing.

The objective would be to promote its unique selling proposition via partnerships with fashion influencers to elevate the brand and boost brand awareness.

Public relations strategy - SMART goals

Step #2: Identify Your Target Audience

A target audience and ideal customer/buyer persona for your public relations strategy can be individuals or groups, other businesses or consumers.

This includes:

  • Existing customers
  • Prospects and leads
  • Stakeholders
  • Business partners
  • Investors
  • Government sectors
  • Employees and potential recruits
  • Media

These audiences react to PR strategies differently. Considered your PR goals and objectives and ask yourself which specific target audience will help you achieve them.

Step #3: Tailor Your Messaging

The purpose of PR messaging is to:

  • Educate and inform your audience
  • Motivate customers to take the desired action
  • Affect the people’s perception of your business

These should not get lost in your strategy. Keep your messages to the point and align them with your target audience’s pain points, aspirations and core values.

When creating your PR messaging, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my brand mission and core value?
  • What do I want my audience to know about my business?
  • Why should my customers choose my business over competitors (what is my unique value proposition?)

Step #4: Create Content

As PR is about sending the right message to the right audience to foster your brand reputation, content marketing should play a pivotal role due to its versatility and effectiveness.

For example, if you want your brand to be perceived as trustworthy, your audience should recognize you as an expert in your niche.

You can then create well-researched, educational content that share key insights and relevant data. If executed properly, you will be perceived as a thought leader in no time.

Step #5: Choose Your PR Tools

Last but not least, consider your PR tool options that will help you with the following:

  • Monitoring your media mentions
  • Finding journalists, influencers and media houses
  • Spotting media trends
  • Identifying contact details
  • Writing and outreaching content
  • Distributing press releases

Some of the most popular PR tools include:

  • HARO (Help A Reporter Out): Connects journalists and businesses with expert sources, enabling brands to tell their stories.
  • BuzzStream: Researches influencers, finds contact information and identifies the best sites to request links from.
  • Prezly: Connects brands with influencers via email and social media, has an online media center where you can publish your stories.
  • SellHack: Uses publicly accessible information to determine likely contact details.
  • LexisNexis: Offers a great collection of global news and business insights, media aggregation, monitoring, and analytics solution.

Seven Types of Public Relations

Public relations is a vital aspect of any organization's operations because effective PR programs build trust, credibility and loyalty among their stakeholders. Organizations can improve their public image and maintain positive relationships with stakeholders by implementing one of seven types of public relations.

Whether you're a small business owner or a large corporation, understanding the purpose of PR types and how they can benefit your organization is crucial for achieving your objectives.

Here are seven types of public relations:

  1. Media relations build relationships with journalists, editors and other media professionals to secure positive coverage for an organization or individual in various media outlets.
  2. Community relations build relationships with the community in which an organization operates to promote positive interactions and goodwill.
  3. Public affairs contribute to maintaining a positive and solid relationship between the government and politicians.
  4. Crisis communication manages and mitigates negative publicity or crises to protect an organization or individual's reputation and maintain stakeholder trust.
  5. Social media communications promote the company’s reputation and ensure positive outcomes on social media platforms.
  6. Internal employee communications improve employee morale, productivity and overall performance.
  7. Strategic communications spread coordinated messages from a brand to achieve specific goals and objectives.

To decide which approach can contribute the most to your business success, read more details about each of the seven PR types.

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Why and When Do You Need a PR Strategy?

Any business at any stage of its lifecycle needs a public relations strategy in order to promote its brand and manage its reputation.

However, PR strategy is especially beneficial to businesses that have suffered reputational damage or whose credibility is declining. Crisis management is one of the most impactful uses of a PR strategy because it helps fix a situation that led to the brand’s image decline.

Here are some specific benefits you can enjoy from implementing a PR strategy.

  1. Improved Brand Awareness & Exposure
  2. Crisis Management & Brand Image Recovery
  3. Greater Credibility & Consumer Trust
  4. Lead Generation Opportunities
  5. It Attracts Employee Talent & Investors

1. Improved Brand Awareness & Exposure

PR is a valuable tool for boosting your overall brand awareness and standing out in a highly competitive environment.

It offers a way of getting in front of your prospective and existing customers through a set of online and social media communications, press releases, community relations and other PR outlets.

These PR efforts can be implemented on their own or as a supplement to other promotional efforts geared towards brand awareness.

2. Crisis Management & Brand Image Recovery

As mentioned earlier, a PR campaign can help brands recover or rebuild their image whenever there are damages to their public reputation.

If you don’t immediately address the issue that caused the damage to your brand image, you risk having your audience remember you in a negative light. And this is undeniably detrimental to your business.

Public relations is essential for crisis management as it can help you turn things around for the better and keep your business afloat during a difficult period.

3. Greater Credibility & Consumer Trust

One of the goals of a PR strategy is to establish a credible brand identity by using messaging that reflects your company’s core values and beliefs.

Consumers associate your brand with said core values as you articulate them via press releases, customer testimonials, PR events, mission statements and other public relations outlets.

The cornerstone of good branding is that it resonates with the stakeholders.

When your core values align with that of your audience, you are in a position to establish strong bonds with existing customers and attract new ones.

4. Lead Generation Opportunities

A solid PR strategy helps generate more valuable leads and prospects for your business.

It can get your brand in front of broader audiences, resulting in more people interested in doing business with your company.

5. It Attracts Employee Talent & Investors

Having and executing a sturdy PR strategy will make your business appealing to potential investors and employees.

The brand image signals to investors if a company is stable, growing and relevant.

On the other hand, the top talents you plan to recruit will appreciate the signs of a healthy and trustworthy working environment.

So in the context of talent and investor acquisition, a PR strategy can help your business grow its:

  • Reputation and image
  • Market value and share
  • Employee and investor attraction rate

Why you need a public relations strategy

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Five PR Tactics and Examples

If you’re wondering how to create a PR strategy, look at some effective public relations strategy examples below. Also, you can use public relations strategy templates to develop an approach that will help your business reach new heights!

Here are the five PR tactics that have proven to work:

  1. Press Releases
  2. Traditional Advertising
  3. Social Media Activity
  4. Influencer Marketing
  5. Community and Industry Events

1. Press Releases

To understand the importance of press releases, we must clarify the difference between paid vs. owned vs. earned media.

Paid media is content you pay to publish through ads or sponsorship, while owned media is created and managed by yourself, like on your website or social media page. Lastly, earned media is created by others about you, such as reviews or social media posts. Paid media costs money, while owned and earned media are free.

92% of customers trust earned media content — when others write about your brand, products or services, without you paying them to, the audience sees you as credible and trustworthy. That is where press releases jump in.

Press releases effectively promote your brand or product through media channels - magazines, news, blogs, etc. They help increase awareness about your brand, product or event and drive traffic to your website. This tactic is successful when shared with a relevant audience.

Example: One of the excellent press release examples is Tesla. In 2020, the company announced a record in vehicle production and delivery, with over 180,000 delivered in the previous three months.

Tesla's press release was successful because it provoked interest in the company's achievements, highlighted its success and innovation, reassured investors and showed that the company was still growing and performing well.

2. Traditional Advertising

When sharing your brand story, you might consider TV advertising or even appearing in TV shows to reach a large audience. However, getting coverage in national media is challenging — many brands are competing in this race and only a tiny percentage is succeeding. Focusing on the local news is better until you have enough recognition to reach the national press.

Targeting local media increases your chances of reaching your target audience. Local press has less competition, and you don't need an exceptional story to be newsworthy. If your story is interesting, it can gain the attention you aim for and eventually be picked up by national media.

Example: Coca-Cola is known for its iconic TV commercials featuring catchy jingles and messages. One memorable example is their "Share a Coke" advertising campaign. They replaced their logo on bottles from one side with popular first names, encouraging consumers to share a Coke with friends and family.

3. Social Media Activity

Being actively present on social media platforms your audience uses is essential for every brand that aims to develop a strong PR strategy. Social media can help increase brand awareness, spread messages and prevent potential PR crises by responding in real time.

However, creating a social media account and leaving the rest of the work to your followers is not enough. Actually, this approach leads to disaster. To get the most out of this PR tactic, you must share helpful content, actively engage with your followers and join relevant discussions.

Also, you should use social media listening tools to monitor what people say about the brand, so you can adjust your strategy if needed.

Example: Wendy's has gained a reputation for their witty social media presence. In 2017, they went viral when a user asked how many retweets it would take to get free chicken nuggets. Wendy's replied with a challenge: if the tweet received 18 million retweets, they would give the user free nuggets for a year. The initial tweet gathered 84.3k retweets until today and Wendy's got great free PR!

4. Influencer Marketing

People are likelier to trust recommendations from others rather than direct brand advertising, with influencer marketing being a fast-growing customer acquisition channel. Many companies have seen better results and higher returns on investment through influencer marketing. For example, influencer PR can bring an ROI of up to $20 for every dollar spent.

By collaborating with influencers with loyal and engaged followers, brands can increase their visibility, traffic and conversions. To use the full potential of influencer marketing, hire influencers in your niche who share your brand values and can promote your brand to their followers.

Example: Fashion brand Daniel Wellington is known for partnering with influencers to promote their watches on social media. One example is their collaboration with fashion blogger Kristina Bazan, who posted multiple photos on Instagram featuring Daniel Wellington watches, reaching her 2.5 million followers.

5. Community and Industry Events

Hosting events is a powerful PR tactic that can help promote your brand, connect with industry leaders and engage with your target audience.

However, organizing your event, although significant, is not enough; you must also participate in events organized by other brands in your community. You can contribute by speaking on topics you are knowledgeable about, asking questions during panel discussions or setting up an information booth. These actions will increase your visibility and help you build connections.

Example: Apple, the tech giant, regularly holds product launch events to promote and showcase its latest technology. In 2021, they hosted a virtual event to announce the release of the new iPhone 13, presenting new features and improvements on the smart device.

What Media Channels Should You Incorporate Into Your PR Strategy?

It is time to examine what media channels you can use as a platform for your public relations strategy.

The types of media where you can manage your PR strategy include owned, earned, and paid.

  1. Owned Media
  2. Earned Media
  3. Paid Media

1. Owned Media

Owned media denotes the resources and channels you own:

  • Your website
  • Blog section
  • Landing pages
  • Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media profiles
  • YouTube channel
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • And more

You have complete control over your own media and can manage it in any way you see fit. It is also the most important type of media channel because it is a window into your business. Your own media channels should reflect the brand image your PR strategy wants to achieve or maintain.

Also, the majority of your PR brand mentions will link to one of your owned media outlets – most commonly, your website. This is why your public relations strategy should be seamlessly aligned with your own media channels.

Earned Media

Earned media PR coverage is the most difficult to obtain, but it is extremely useful for building your reputation with the general public and your direct consumers.

Earned media indicates organic publicity without purchasing ad space, like:

  • Bloggers’ and thought-leaders' reviews
  • Online customer reviews
  • Social media mentions referencing your business
  • Word of mouth recommendations
  • Media coverage of your products
  • And more

Earned media can build credibility and trust, amplify your reach, engage your target audiences and promote your brand in a way that consumers trust – organically. Incorporating these media outlets into your public relations strategy is vital for attracting new customers that don’t visit your owned media outlets.

Paid Media

Paid media includes all types of promotional outlets that you pay for to get exposure, like:

  • Paid social media ads and sponsored posts
  • PPC and PPI search engine ads
  • Banner ads
  • Native ads
  • Influencer marketing
  • Out-of-home and digital-out-of-home ads
  • And more

A PR strategy that incorporates paid media helps target and reach both new and existing customers. Take note that the most effective public relations strategies use all three media types. Focusing only on owned media will not get you any traction, as you’re only addressing customers who usually come to your website or social media pages.

On the flip side, if you don’t invest in owned media and focus solely on paid media, the users you drive to your site will likely bounce because your website content is underdeveloped and unfitting.

The synergy of all three media types yields the best results for exposure, user retention and engagement and trust-building. Therefore, making them an integral part of your PR strategy.

Public Relations Strategy Takeaways

The main goals of a public relations strategy are to create, maintain and protect the reputation of a business by presenting its image favorably to specific audiences.

Having a sturdy PR strategy helps with:

  • Better exposure
  • Crisis management
  • Customer trust
  • Lead generation
  • Attracting talent and investors

The five-step process of creating a public relations strategy consists of:

  • Defining your PR goals
  • Identifying your target audience(s)
  • Tailoring your messaging for each audience
  • Creating compelling content
  • Using suitable PR tools

PR Strategy FAQ

1. What does good PR look like?

Good PR is a consistent and strategic effort to build and maintain positive relationships with customers, investors and the media. It involves clear and transparent communication, a focus on building trust and credibility, and a commitment to addressing concerns and issues in a timely and effective manner. A successful PR strategy should also align with the brand's overall goals and values and help enhance its reputation and brand image.

2. How do you set PR objectives?

Your PR goals should be SMART — specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. SMART goals will help you measure the success of your efforts and allow you to make adjustments as needed to achieve your desired outcomes.

3. What is the best PR strategy?

Word-of-mouth — your audience talking about your brand or products — is the best PR strategy that increases brand awareness and credibility. To get people talking about your brand, use proven PR tactics like press releases, traditional advertising channels, social media, collaborate with influencers and attain and attend community and industry events.

4. What are the types of publics in public relations?

The public in public relations includes:

  • Internal public - employees and internal stakeholders.
  • External public - customers and stakeholders outside the company.
  • Media public - journalists, editors and other media representatives.
  • Financial public - investors and other subjects interested in the company’s financial performance.
  • Community public - community members or the broad, general public.


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