Where will Public Relations take us in 2019? Answer: wherever we want. Over the past few years the lines have blurred between affiliate marketing, internal communications, content strategy and earned media. When prospects reached out to us in the past we would generally be asked about securing earned media to drive awareness and generate leads. Now the questions include:
- What can I do to manage and enhance the reputation of my company?
- How can we improve our search rankings?
- How do we establish an employer brand?
- What channels should carry my message?
- Is it time to double-down on video?
Before we can answer any of these questions, we need to develop a plan. If you don’t take the time to create a road map you will never know if you reached your destination. Key areas of focus for a communications plan include:
All good plans start with clear goals in mind. Together we determine what success will look like, what problem we are solving and what will be the potential outcomes. Objectives must be specific and measurable. Make the goal actionable. For example:
- Increase leads by 20%
- Seize share of voice from top competitor
- Increase qualified job applications by 15%
Research & insights
Research informs the plan and should include a look at competitors, the state of the market, the consumer/business needs and much more. Identify the white spaces in the market that other sources don’t know about by analyzing social media, search trends and topic modeling.
Narrative development and audience assessment
Once the communication gaps have been identified and the business need has been established the next part of the plan should focus on creating a story that will resonate with the target audience. A company’s narrative should be regularly explored to ensure it still holds true. For instance, if a key messaging pillar focused on an organization being a best place to work but the company has done nothing to bolster the pillar, the narrative should be re-examined. If there has been a major leadership change and the values or culture have evolved as a result, spend some time developing the proof points that now exist and redefine the story.
Process & editorial planning
Once the goals are set, the research has been completed and the narrative is in place, you can begin the process of editorial planning. Here is where you look to the calendar to determine key campaign periods that will drive the content development.
Decisions need to be made in advance of creating content: Ask yourself if there are internal resources internal available to develop the content and determine a budget for creative executions. Is there an opportunity to create one long form piece of content that can be utilized across different channels? Be smart. For example, if you conduct a proprietary survey you can maximize the results via an infographic, parsing out specific data points exclusively for media and creating a series on your blog or social channels.
Once the content is created, it should be published based on audience profiles and optimized and/or boosted as needed to ensure the right eyeballs are seeing and relating to the messages.
Measure and improve
No plan is complete until a deep analysis of the results has been performed. Iterative and ongoing analysis and reporting ensures that all tactics are performing effectively.