5 Things Every Company PR Plan Needs: The Details

Last week we discussed the broad strokes that should be standard in every company PR plan, no matter the industry. This week we break down the more granular details.

The PR landscape has certainly evolved since I broke into the business almost 20 years ago. Social media and digital communications are leveling the playing field for companies looking to engage with their audiences. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the need to have an active, strategic plan in place to guide your communications activities.

Situation Analysis

Effective PR campaigns cannot be designed in a vacuum. Teams need to not only know the themes currently driving media, but also how your company or client fits into that landscape. We also need to consider our competitive landscape by taking a looks at the campaigns undertaken by other companies in our market. I’m a big believer in the SWOT analysis – which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – because it forces companies to face their weaknesses and threats and forces communications teams to prepare for tough questions and (potentially) crisis situations.

At SHIFT, we’re fortunate to have a whip-smart Marketing Tech team (the only PR agency team to be Google Analytics Certified, by the way) who can help us identify the right mix of paid, earned, shared and owned communications activity. We work with them to look at the typical customer journey for a client’s industry, and develop creative strategies to ensure our clients are getting in front of their customers and potential customers with the right message on the right platform. You can read more about how we approach the customer journey for our enterprise clients on the SHIFT website.


If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you’ve arrived. Setting clear communications goals that can be tracked back  not only to the larger marketing objectives but also to the company’s overall business goals is a key factor in determining the success of any program. Objectives can be grand – “increase awareness of client among key IT buyers in healthcare” – or geared toward a specific activity – “introduce the product to target millennial new-parent audience.”


Strategy” is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but in reality, strategies simply outline how you plan to achieve your objectives. A thorough plan includes the types of activities to be executed, as well as specific actions and target media and other influencers. A well-crafted PR plan is one that can be picked up and executed without guidance by its owner, even by someone brand new to the team. The key to this section is mapping out a realistic timeline to execute and assign deadlines for milestones along the way.


Messaging is an involved activity deserving of its own blog post, but it is a key piece of the planning process. It’s imperative that everyone who is involved in the campaign, from the media relations team to as the product managers, are in alignment on the message to be conveyed. In many cases, a corporate message map will guide the exercise of tailoring a client’s general positioning to a specific announcement making the process easier. In other situations, when launching a company from stealth, for example, you’ll need to build this language from scratch – be sure to build enough time in your planning schedule.


Here’s where we define what success looks like from a qualitative and quantitative basis. Back when we first looked at the customer journey, we identified key points along the path we wanted to influence. Setting metrics that are both media/influencer based – “secure 50 articles for product launch” or “land cover story in Fast Company” – as well as business based – say, “increase sales leads 50 percent through downloads of a whitepaper.” Always make sure your metrics map back to the objectives outlined in your plan.

It might seem like a lot of overhead work, but developing a strong PR plan at the outset of a communications program is always time well spent. This holds true for any industry.

Leslie Clavin
Vice President


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