Create a PR Campaign that Gets Results

When I was on the crew team in college, the ongoing joke was that rowers start at the finish and go backwards. As a rower, we literally started a race in the finish position of the stroke, and row with our backs to the finish line, so could never see where we were headed (thank goodness for the coxswain).

Creating an effective public relations program is kind of the same. While we don’t actually start a program in the finish position, we start by identifying what that finish position is and map out how we’re going to get there, by tracing steps backward.

Start at the end

When we start at the end, we decide first thing what success looks like. What are our ultimate objectives? It’s only once these are determined that we can build out a campaign to achieve them.

Go backwards to build it out

Once everyone is clear on the objectives, you’re ready to create a PR program to meet them.

  • Start with research. Effective research provides an assessment of public opinions and preferences and can also help predict behavioral outcome. Doing the appropriate research up front makes it much easier to demonstrate the efficacy of the program down the line.
  • Identify target audiences. Basically, who influences the success of your business? The research done pre-campaign should help to define who the target audiences is, what matters to them, where they receive their information, and ultimately how you want them to act.
  • Develop key messages. Each audience segment is going to care about something different. Write your brand message with this in mind. This includes using terminology that they use and speak to the issues that matter to them.
  • Determine channels of communication. Once you’re familiar with your target audiences, you’ll know where they receive their information. Your PR program should disseminate its messaging in those channels.
  • Measure and adjust. Based on your objectives, determine if the PR program has succeeded or fallen short. If adjustments need to be made, make them.

Gliding over the finish line

Creating a PR program that gets results means taking the time upfront to fully understand where you want to be in the end. And if you work backwards, you might just find that you’ve ended up where you want to be.


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