Just like with shoes, jeans and boyfriends, in public relations it’s true that one size doesn’t fit all. When putting together a comprehensive PR and marketing plan, it’s important to remember that companies are like snowflakes — each has differing backgrounds, leadership, goals and approaches. Here are some things to keep in mind when developing a customer-first PR program:
Clearly Understand and Define Goals
An important first step is to determine what the point of this campaign is. Is the business hoping to build general awareness, or are they well-established and focused on lead generation and sales? Are they trying to change perception of their brand? Are they being sold? Are their audiences defined, and which channels (paid, earned, owned) do they want to use? These are just a few of the baseline questions that should be answered before diving in to develop a customized program.
Tell the Story
Once the goals are clear, it’s time to develop messaging. Consider who your target audiences are, and what will resonate with them. For example, if you work for an apparel company looking to drive holiday sales, you’ll use angles around the best gifts for the fashion-lovers on your shopping list, and include why your clothing/shoes/accessories are new and better this season. If you are a brand who recently suffered an external communication crisis, your messaging might focus on what you’re doing to acknowledge and resolve the issue with the goal of improving public opinion. Make sure to craft messages in a way that media will understand, but be creative to help them see why your company or client fits into their story pipeline. Senior leaders at the company must buy into the messaging framework so there aren’t any surprises or plan derailments down the road.
Set a Data-Driven Strategy
Once you’re aligned on messaging, use research, data and insights to create your strategy. You already know the goals and who you’re trying to reach. What are the ways your audience consumes media? Where are they physically present? When are they available to consume new information? How can you meet them “where they are?” Think about the online and offline ways you can most effectively influence them with your newly perfected messaging, while and where they are already engaged. That could be an event or through content, social media, traditional news, and much more. A potential B2B customer might be reading a trade publication, while a customer looking to try a new restaurant is probably reading the local news in B2C PR.
Measuring if it Matters
Keep in mind that measuring success also doesn’t fit into a defined box. Track back to your goals to see what worked, and refine what didn’t. Access to tools like Google Analytics and CRM data will allow you a peak into the results from PR efforts. Did certain articles directly tie to sales? Did a large event lead to a huge timely spike in website traffic? What pages and content are people most engaged with? You can use these insights to continue tactics that are moving the needle positively for your unique client or business, and if certain tactics aren’t working, re-strategize. Data may surprise you, be open to it!
With a well thought out PR approach, you can focus on your individual business needs without trying to force fit ideas that won’t ultimately drive it forward.