Elements of Public Relations Plan
Introduction/Situation Analysis (10 points)
This is where the research is shared. The research is an analysis of the industry, company situation, market analysis, etc. This should discuss things such as customer demographics, competitors, and company performance. It should also evaluate things outside of the company, creating a S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) of sorts. This is also the place where the plan is briefly described and defines the issues that brought upon the creation of the plan. This is like an Executive Summary that is meant to answer the questions of “why”
Goal (s) – Think of goals like overarching long-term needs/hopes and dreams. They are typically broad, abstract and potentially difficult to quantify. There may be multiple goals.
Example: US-based Pelahatchie Pottery wants to become a well-known brand in the UK.
Objectives (10 points – includes goal)
There are two categories and two types of objectives.
Most simply, an objective is a statement of the outcome that public relations efforts are designed to achieve. There are two general categories: output objectives and impact objectives.
Output objectives concern transmitting PR messages. An example output objective would be to issue two news releases each week. As you can see, an output objective does not really consider how public relations objectives and the problems they concern must focus on awareness or attitudes of key publics. Behavior of those publics, and problems stemming from that behavior, though, are really organizational concerns. consider how a PR activity will influence an organization’s relationship with its publics.
Impact objectives focus specifically on desired changes in public relationships. Often, but not always, these objectives focus on desired changes in the publics rather than the organization.
Informational objectives: This is where you can get specific as to
what you would like to communicate to what audience, and what sort
of exposure and awareness you would like to create.
Increase awareness and understanding of the new hybrid cars offered by ABC Motors by 10% in 6 months
Increase factory employees’ awareness of company safety policies by 20% over a one-year period.
Attitudinal Objectives: How you want people to feel and think. How you want the various audiences to perceive your organization/cause.
To create a positive perception in the minds of 10% of potential buyers of the new hybrid cars offered by ABC Motors in 6 months.
Motivational objectives – deal with changing attitudes or influencing behavior
Host event on (date) with 500 people in attendance.
Think of objectives like those desired achievements that will assist with meeting the determined goal. They are statements of intent that explain what needs to happen or what needs to be achieved, in order for goals to be met. They also need to be expressed in concrete, measurable terms.
Tips for writing PR objectives
Start with an action verb – words like increase, reduce, improve, maintain work well
If you are using “by” you are writing a strategy, not an objective. Try again.
Be sure objectives are measurable
Make objectives realistic
Be sure objectives are time-bound
Example: To secure 1,000 likes on Facebook within 2 months
Target publics (10 points)
For each new plan or venture that a company wants to take on, the target market
can change or become a more narrow/focused target audience from a
larger, more general market. This portion of the PR plan is
meant to make the objectives, strategies, and activities easier to define.
This section should list whom you want to reach in order to meet the aforementioned objectives.
There are two types of publics in PR:
Primary- One who can directly affect your organizations pursuit of profit or goals.
Secondary- Nice but doesn’t seriously affect the bottom line.
Strategies (10 points)
This section is meant to define the tools and methods you plan to use to reach your target audiences. This can include describing the vehicles you will use, whether that be social media, press media or trade media, celebrity endorsement, etc. This is the portion of the PR where you
explain how your objectives will be met.
One step down in the PR planning process are the strategies. Strategies are the most misunderstood of all. Strategies are simply the “how” that, when done correctly, will help to ensure you meet your stated objective. Your strategies are also the guidelines that set up the strategic direction of your programs (ie your tactics).
A strategy does not describe desired outcomes of a public relations plan–those are objectives. The specific actions taken to achieve the desired outcomes of a public relations plan are not strategies either–those are tactics. A strategy, however, encompasses some elements of both objectives and tactics. Strategies should not be chosen until objectives have been established, because they suggest how objectives can best be achieved. Similarly, tactics, when chosen apart from objectives and strategies, often have little relation to an organization’s desired outcome, and do not have an explicit link to those outcomes.
In general, a strategy statement should contain the following elements: publics, logic, communication channel, type of medium, timing. These items are defined as follows:
Publics. These have already been identified in your objectives. Each strategy should therefore be directed at a specific public in order to keep the focus on program objectives.
Logic. This element presents the foundation for the tactics that follow. Specifically state what should be emphasized to publics in the tactics and why.
Communication channel. These include mass media channels (print and broadcast), interpersonal channels (such as meetings) and special events (but a specific event should not be included in the strategy statement). Channels can be directed toward internal publics and external publics.
Type of medium. Media can be controlled (advertising, meetings) and uncontrolled (news stories). Different attributes are attached to each type of medium.
Timing. The implementation of many strategies requires careful timing. Key publics most directly affected by an organization’s actions often need to receive information before other publics (such as with implementing layoffs). Prioritizing publics, then, can help identify timing considerations. http://www.uiowa.edu/~c019162/strategy.htm
Example: Promote Pelatchie Pottery through personalized pitches to 50 UK-based pottery bloggers
Reverse the stodgy image of Cadillac automobiles with younger consumers by generating more exciting media coverage.
Create a controlled, mass media communication tool that is regularly distributed to factory employees, emphasizing safety policies and stressing the importance of safe work practices.
With each strategy, which will ultimately (and hopefully) create the desired outcomes from above, there should be a set of tactics to describe how you will get those results.
Theme/Key message(s) (10 points)
Theme – Overarching message of company
Key messages – this is where you can get even more specific and create the key messages
you would like to communicate to each of your target audiences.
Tactics (10 points)
These are the specific “who’s” and “whats” that define your program and plan. Tactics are specifics, they are action items.
Tips for writing PR tactics
Tactics work best when accompanied by verbs like Implement, Utilize, Add, Contact, or Participate.
Add measurable outcomes like dates.
Successful tactics are part of a written, approved public relations plan that is tied to an organization’s value-based mission. Public relations tactics are values in action. An organization’s values should lead to a mission statement, which in turn, leads to goals. These goals lead to objectives, which help form the actions that allow an organization to strive toward it’s highest values, also known as tactics.
Successful tactics target each of their publics (audiences) one at a time, unless one method is effective with more than one primary public. What works for one public, may be inappropriate for another.
Successful tactics are based on research about the targeted public’s values, interests and preferred channels of communication.
Successful tactics consistently send a clear message that is aimed toward a public’s values and interests as it strives to achieve an organization’s objective with maximum results.
Successful tactics are evaluated as they are being performed and after execution. Do not be afraid to change a communications plan and your tactics while a program is in execution. In the fields of public and media relations, it is vital for practitioners to keep a focused mind, and at the same time, be flexible (Daniel Janal, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.prleads.com)
Budget (10 points)
This needs to be realistic. Don’t leave anything out, and cover any anticipated costs. This way a client or an executive of your company can see what sort of investment this will be, and if there are any portions/activities that can be cut if funds are limited. This should be very detailed and in-depth, but also to the point and clear.
Think overall, and think realistically. Also consider what the company can afford and what is feasible. Create a spreadsheet that describes where your time is spent, and how much that time costs.
Timeline (10 points)
Using the strategies you’ve listed in the budget, create a timeline to set goals for yourself and to also keep yourself on track.
This is a sample – you must make this reflect YOUR plan. You will need one for various time periods (e.g. six months before, five months before, etc.). You may use a Gantt Chart (as seen in the text) for a part of this, but you will need to present a text-based timeline for a portion of the plan.
Sample for week One – last week before event.
Measurement of success (10 points)
This is an important aspect of the PR plan and it will help to reinstate the value of the PR plan and will help to create standards of expectations. There are two types of Evaluation: formative and summative. Formative is what the practitioner does as he or she plans and implements the plan and summative is what occurs at the end of the plan. Summative MUST reflect the objectives and tactics. Following is an example of the way this may be addressed:
Objective # 1 – To have 500 people attend event on (date).
Evaluation of objective #1 – We will count the number of people who register for a door prize at the event. If there are 500 or more people registered, we will consider this objective met.
Tactic # 1 – Use flyers in local parking lots to create awareness of ping-pong tournament.
Evaluation of tactic #1 – We will have information cards at tournament to gather information about how the participants found out about the tournament. We will enter these cards in a prize drawing to encourage participation. If a significant percentage of the attendees learned about the event via the flyers, this tactic was successful. Note: this is not enacted. The measure of success will be stated in a “what if” scenario.
You will have numerous objectives and tactics. You will need to have these listed in both the strategy and/or communication phases of the plan and repeated with evaluation criteria in the Evaluation section of the plan.
Conclusion: This is the place to leave any final words and to ask execs
Appendix (10 points)
Two sample tactics
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