Public relations strategy
Public relations strategy improves the brand image, overall exposure and consumers' trust.

The global PR market is expected to grow by 10.2% in 2021 as companies rearrange their operations and look to recover from the impact of Covid-19.

Primarily because the public relations sector can soften the negative impact of crisis situations and (re)connect businesses with their audience.

But PR is much more than mending the ailments – it is a sure-proof way of managing brand image, increasing credibility, capturing the attention of ideal customers and retaining their brand loyalty.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of an effective public relations strategy and outline five actionable steps for creating a successful PR plan.

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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

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

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.

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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

How To Create A Successful Public Relations Strategy In 5 Steps

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(s)

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.
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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.

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
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