Jumping into PR for your business can be scary, really scary. It’s tricky to know where to start, and it seems as if there’s a never-ending list of things to be getting on with, leaving us looking a little bit like this...
I get it, I really do. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Putting together a PR plan is one of the best things you can do before getting started with public relations. They help to ensure consistency in your efforts and therefore maintain results throughout the year, quarter or month ahead.
This post will walk you through the process of building a PR plan for your small business, helping you to get all the measures in place to become the PR queen you were destined to be. So, let’s get on with it!👑
What is a PR plan?
Think of your PR plan as your roadmap for the year ahead, mapping out your PR activities in accordance with your communications and wider business goals. Planning your PR activities ahead of time helps to ensure consistency and ongoing results, acting as a framework for you to refer back to.
How can I create one?
If you're a loyal follower of The PR Pocketbook, you'll be thrilled to hear that you've likely done a lot of the work already! If you're new here (hello and welcome!), don't stress! You can take a look back at my previous blogs by clicking here, and join the Instagram community for even more actionable PR advice here.
Step 1: Get your business/branding in check
There’s very little point in getting your business out there if it isn’t really ready. You can check out my previous blog post on this topic for more information, but essentially you want to make sure that your branding (both visual and intangible - think values, mission, vision, key messages, etc.) are all in check.
Step 2: Determine your 'Why' and 'How' (objectives and KPIs!)
As with anything you give your time and energy to, it’s important to know your aims before embarking on your PR plan. These objectives should work in tandem with your business’s overall goals. Your target might be to drive web traffic, build credibility or position yourself as a thought leader in your niche, etc.
Having a strong ‘why’ is key for shaping your PR plan and keeping you going when times get tough (PR isn’t often smooth sailing). Equally important is knowing your 'hows'. PR is notoriously tricky to measure, so it’s good practice to have an idea of your key performance indicators (KPIs) in mind and to reflect on these as you go. KPIs of PR success might include an increase in web traffic, sales, social media reach or SEO rankings.
Step 3: Know your audience
If you haven’t already, have a look at my post on audience personas and work through that process in order to truly understand your target audiences and the media they consume. This will inform your PR planning on every level.
Step 4: Identify your key topics and dates
The last year has proven that anything can happen, so some of your PR activities will be reactive in response to trends or events we aren’t aware of yet.
That being said, some planning in advance is possible and advisable. To begin building your PR plan for the coming year, 6 months or whatever length of time you’d like to plan for, consider:
Do you have any exciting business developments coming up this year? (e.g. new hires, product launches, a new range, change in supplier, etc.)
What upcoming charity/awareness days tie in with your business, its identity and practices, that you can use as a hook?
Is a business birthday/anniversary coming up? Are you celebrating any other achievements or milestones?
Are there any industry or regional awards you’d like to enter?
How about any industry events you’d like to be involved in, local or national, or perhaps you’re planning on organising your own event?
Step 5: Consider how you’d like to mark them
Have a think about how you would like to mark these key topics and events, for example, with a guest feature, press coverage, Instagram Live or blog post. This will help to inform your timing for planning, pitching and creating your content, as well as giving you time in advance to seek any outside help you might need with this activity (sourcing videographers, photographers, etc.)
Try to factor into your plan as much of a communications mix as possible. Some trial and error will gradually uncover the strategies that work best for you, but the wider variety of methods you try at the outset, the broader your reach could be.
Step 6: Plan, plan, plan
Now that you have some concrete plans, draw up a calendar that works for you (spreadsheets work well but, in my opinion, nothing beats a poster-sized wall chart!) and begin to populate it with your plans, factoring in things like magazine lead times and dates to avoid.
Be sure to include the target date, topic, format and channel/outlet that you’d like to share your stories through. You can also include the contact details of relevant journalists, etc. to have them to hand when you need them. You could even start to plan how you might keep this activity going in order to maximise your results, for example, through social media promotion or repurposing the content.
Step 7: Execute and evolve your plan
Taking the plunge is scary, but once you’ve got a solid plan in place, there’s no reason to hold back. It’s now or never!
Once you’ve got started, it’s important to refer to your PR plan regularly. You can even break each month into smaller week-by-week plans as you go, if you prefer. Most PR professionals would recommend reviewing your PR plan every month to ensure it is still working in alignment with your business objectives and helping you to achieve them.
Evaluate your PR activities to see which are working best for you. Which did you enjoy most, and which were most effective in helping to achieve your PR and business objectives? This will help to shape your future PR plans.
Don't forget that your plan is an outline, not a set of rules. If something changes and one of the activities you had planned doesn't sit quite right anymore, scrap it! That's the beauty of doing your own PR: you can adapt and evolve as you go.
And so, in the words of Beyoncé...
You should now have the fundamentals in place to set off on your PR journey (I know it's cliché but I love the journey metaphor). The PR Pocketbook community will be here to support you every step of the way.