It may seem like no surprise that every public relations effort should be part of a public relations plan, but for many, the importance of this plan is overlooked and can be detrimental to your end result...and your job.
Why have a plan?
- The media works on December in July. Without a plan, you won’t be thinking about what they’re thinking about, so your chance of inclusion shrinks drastically.
- A PR plan should serve as your 30,000 foot view to-do list. Your client or CEO can see at any time what you’re up to without bugging you. This will hold you accountable and hold them accountable to the strategy that is guiding you.
- To plan budgets and media strategy. The budgets are a given, but did you think about the media? You only have so many media people to work with. If you don’t plan properly, you may secure your biggest story then turn around and pitch the same pub for something equally important the next month, but they’ll decline because they just wrote about you. Try explaining that strategy to the boss.
So you're sold, or this is old news to you. Below is a checklist of things to consider when writing your bomb PR plan:
- Revisit your plan from this time last year to make sure you have the basics, but don't use it as a crutch! Think fresh, get creative.
- Revisit last year's activity reports. What hadn't you planned for that may come up again?
- Think about the world outside of your company. Major holidays, elections, seasonal trends and news that is anticipated to break. Think of the latter both for opportunities to tie in, or moments to avoid because others will be hogging the media.
- Include your objectives, strategies and audiences at the beginning. Your plan is more than just a to-do list, it is a guide and an informal agreement between you and your client or boss that you are on point with your strategy.
- Include your budget for each month. Anticipate hard costs that may pull from your budget and know what you're working with. This will ensure that you have considered what initiatives fit into the time you have and will show your client or boss that you have taken budget into consideration.
- Step back and make sure that you have an initiative to target each audience. Just because one department is really good at asking you to promote their product, doesn't mean that's the only department that should get any love. If you're promoting a product, is there also a business story you should be telling to increase investors? Speaking opportunities that may help attract great talent?
When completed, don't forget to revisit your plan often. Check-in halfway through the month to make sure you aren't missing anything and share it with your client or boss at the beginning of each month to make sure priorities haven't changed.
Here at i.d.e.a., we use our plans as internal guides, as well as informal contracts with our clients to make sure we're all on the same page. We also consider these to be fluid documents. Things change, especially if you have a social media component to your plan. Remember to be flexible but always have a plan.