What is a PR plan all about?

By Sue Voyles / October 18, 2021 / , ,

Like so many things in the communications arena, preparing a PR (public relations) plan requires careful planning, research, a willingness to use a diverse approach that utilizes numerous potential channels available and a thorough and well-crafted message.

Let’s begin with this idea: your first step in any PR plan should be based on the challenge you face and the potential opportunity you may be presented with. This presumes that you have a specific message you want to share, whether it is about your company’s growth into a new area or market, the launch of a new product, an award you’ve received or a service that expands on what you already offer your customers.

Before we go further, please understand that a PR plan is not a strategic plan in many cases, but part of a larger integrated marketing communications (IMC) plan. It is through the lens of your IMC plan that any PR plan must adhere, guiding the direction for what PR actions you may want to take or consider.

Write it down

Professionals connected to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) often talk about the power of a written plan, not just having a concept or idea. An actual working document that lays out what needs to be done to reach the stated goal is critical to success.

In other words, write it down. Like a map, whether one you fold in your pocket or on your phone, make sure that any plan provides specific direction which is communicated through specific words. The goal you should seek is a specific desired outcome (or destination) and will allow your team to deploy a powerfully effective voice that is well coordinated and cohesive.

So now let’s step back to the idea of challenge and opportunity. As you begin to research, the information you need to actually create a plan should be mostly focused on these two ideas. What are the challenges you face when it comes to getting this message deployed and heard across a community? What is the best opportunity, something maybe we haven’t even noticed before?

As your ideas take shape you can begin to target your approach, using the media channels – social and otherwise – that work best for your plan.

Many believe that PR plans should include basic information that describe the “situation.” In other words, what is the problem (challenge) that needs to be addressed and how will you accomplish a successful result. Challenges aren’t necessarily negative. Just understand that if you want a PR plan to announce your new product, while it may not seem like a problem, the launch is certainly full of potential miscues that need to be confronted, thus the idea of it being a problem or challenge that needs to be overcome.

Beyond challenges that might come up, keep in mind that if you have a specific PR “campaign” in mind, say for the launch of a new storefront, make sure you do the basics of figuring out timelines as well as potential audiences, channels for reaching those audiences and developing a list of contacts that can help you get the message out. This can be members of the media, colleagues in the industry, longtime customers or “fans,” even family, friends and, of course, your team members.

Focus on the message in your PR plan

Any PR plan worth its value is not only going to lay out timelines, audiences and other technical details, it’s going to zero in out the message or messages that will engage with your audiences.

These messages will connect specifically to your company brand but more importantly they showcase the very event, service, product, person or news your PR plan is focused on delivering. For practical purposes try to develop powerful message first and then one or two ancillary themes that can be played out through the plan.

Besides messages, relevant visual resources can be important too and should be figured into any PR plan. Be careful, though, that your visual messaging is coherent and in line with the messages you have developed for the plan itself.

Figure out your channels and identify partners

We have talked a lot before about PR pitches to the media, whether it be print, electronic or social. This really is about the strength of your network, or the one you will develop as a part of the plan. It’s also about the basic knowledge about the people and organizations who are involved in the community or audience, whether it’s a home town newspaper, a local chamber of commerce or even a student radio station. These are all potential partners that can help you succeed in your PR plan.

Ultimately, though, your plan has to utilize many channels beyond traditional media. Social media tactics are a must, creating interactive calls to action and engaging audiences that find their news or get their information through these channels.

The good news is that you control the ideas, and the content. Using content marketing will broaden the means and tools you have at your disposal. So, make sure the PR plan considers the aspects of your delivery platforms, whether it’s email, social media or more traditional media.

In the end remember that a good PR plan develops a coordinated, and unified, series of activities, moments, ideas and messages delivered in a thoughtful and sustained way to the audiences you identify as most important to creating the kind of response you hope to achieve.

For the Logos Communications team the written word is both the starting place and the ending place when it comes to good public relations. Relationships are at the heart of PR but they can only be built and sustained with honest, consistent information beneficial to the other parties.

Next time you have a need for a public relations plan or a campaign keep in mind that there is help available and we are certainly eager to guide you to success.