Do You Have a Public Relations Plan?

public relations plan

Developing a public relations plan will help your organization meet it’s business goals. If you don’t have a plan, you are missing a great opportunity to add to your organization’s bottom line.

But how do you develop a plan? There isn’t one specific way that you have to follow although there are certain elements that you need to have. In this post I’m going to show you some steps to help you create a plan. Like any plan, it’s not something that should be just pieced together in an hour or two. It requires some thought.

At the most basic level, I use the GSOT model to help plan. GSOT stands for:

  • Goals
  • Strategy
  • Objectives
  • Tactics

You will see as we walk through this process that the steps of the GSOT model build upon each other. They are also in a specific order. As we go through the steps you will see that this is not an accident.  Let’s get started.

Goals

Public relations is a business process. Like any other business process it’s there for a reason: to help you reach your business goals. It’s easy to jump right into tactics. That’s what most people do but don’t mistake activity with progress. A good public relations plan will always be tied to goals.

Goals are a broad primary outcome you want to achieve. For example, when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, its goal was to sell 10 million iPhones in 2008. That was one percent of the mobile phone market. Their goal was SMART.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timebound

Let’s look at our example again. The first part of the goal is specific and measurable. Apple wanted to sell 10 million iPhones. If they sold 8 million they would have missed the goal. Was it attainable? There were nearly a billion mobile phones sold in 2006. 10 million iPhones, or one percent of the market was attainable and making the iPhone was also relevant to Apple’s business objectives. Finally, the goal was bound to a specific timeframe. When did they want to reach this goal? 2008.

Strategy

The strategy is how we are going to achieve our goals.  If our goal is to make $1 million in revenue in 2018 how do we do that? This is a PR plan so we are trying to leverage our communications help us meet our goals.

A possible strategy could be: Develop content for our website and use social media to drive leads to it.

Another possibility is: Use social media, Facebook ads, and media relations to drive leads to the content on our website.

There are multiple strategies we could use. The bottom line is how do we use our communication efforts to help reach our goal(s)?

Objectives

The measurable steps that tie to our strategy to help us achieve our goals. Using the above example, we are going to use content marketing to drive leads to our website.  How many leads do we need to make $1 million?

Let’s say the product we are selling costs $500. We need 2000 people to make a purchase and our website needs to convert 20% of our leads to a sale. 10,000 leads x 20% = 2000 conversions/sales.

Our objectives are:

  • Drive 10,000 leads to the website
  • Convert 20% of those leads to customers/sales

Tactics

Tactics are the specific steps taken to achieve our objectives. This is where most people start but minus goals, strategy, and objectives, we are just engaging in random activity. Sure we’ll get results but what do they mean and how do they connect to what we are tryng to accomplish.

Let’s go back to our example. We have a goal to raise make $1 million in revenue in 2018. Our strategy is to develop content and promote it via social media to drive leads to our website. The objective is to drive 10,000 leads to the website of which we will convert 20% to customers.  What steps do we need to take? We obviously need content but what kind of content? We are promoting on social media but what channels and how often? Here are some potential examples of tactics we could use:

  • Post two posts to blog five times a week (Monday – Friday)
  • Promote each blog post on Twitter three times a day
  • Promote each blog post on Facebook the day they are published
  • Post a customer story on the third Wednesday of the month on the blog
  • Post a video every Friday at 10:00 am on YouTube that is embedded on the website
  • Promote the video on Facebook and Twitter at 11:00 am on Friday

You get the idea. Tactics are those specific steps. It might be tempting to start with tactics and work backward but it won’t work. Objectives drive the tactics not the other way around.

Measurement/Evaluation

I’m not able to tell the future any more than you can. Sometimes no matter how much we prepare, it’s possible things won’t go as planned. This is why we measure. We need to evaluate to see what is working and what is not. If something isn’t working, we make adjustments and then re-evaluate.

Let’s go back to the example we have been using. We have specific tactics set up. As we evaluate the content we are creating we notice a certain topic isn’t resonating with our audience. No matter how amazing we feel the topic is, if it’s not resonating with our audience, it’s better that we drop the topic and either find a new one or write more on our most popular topics.

Nothing is certain. We always need to be measuring and evaluating to make sure that we are taking the right steps to reach our goals.

Final Thoughts

I remember when I worked at Intel. They planned everything. There times when the plan didn’t go as expected but we always knew where we were going and could make the proper adjustments to meet our goals and objectives. Planning isn’t usually a quick and easy process but it will help ensure we aren’t doing things simply to be doing things. We have goals that we need to meet to be in business and a good public relations plan will help us meet them.

Shane Carpenter
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