1. Situation analysisFirst, a full assessment of the business and the target markets you want to reach – a clear picture of where your business is now, and where you want it to be in five years time, against your business plan. It should also be based on an analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), to give a comprehensive picture of the markets(s) in which you operate, the particular strengths you have in those markets, and the potential opportunities, dangers – and points of differentiation.
2. Audience identification and segmentationYou need to be clear from the outset at whom the programme is aimed – the key stakeholders or publics that you want to reach – for example customers and potential customers, employees, investors or suppliers. A clear understanding of your business and markets will then illuminate the communications plan, segmented horizontally by target sector and vertically by target audience (age, sex, demographics etc).
3. MessagingThe programme should have clear messages for each target audience, and which will help to underpin your corporate brand(s) and brand values. Those messages must be appropriate for each target audience and consistent across all online and offline channels. Branding and messaging are vital to communicating an integrated and cohesive image of your company and products/services, and must work across PR, advertising, direct and online marketing etc.
4. Creating the PR planOnce the above steps have been completed, it becomes easier to look at the different ways in which you can influence key publics:
- Media relations (online and offline) (press releases, articles, one-to-one briefings etc);
- Direct Mail and E-marketing;
- Advertising (print, radio, TV);
- Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) (social participation);
- Seminars, conferences, exhibitions, business awards; and
- Website and online strategy (including blogs, social and newsletters)
5. KPIs, budget, annual planningIn the same way as every part of a business should be subject to performance measurement, the PR plan should also have Key Performance Indicators to determine how successfully the programme is being delivered, and should be reviewed on a regular basis and, more systematically, on an annual basis. Successful companies are ones that pay attention to PR, promoting themselves and their products/services and helping potential customers through the purchasing cycle. It needn’t be hard, and it needn’t be expensive. So if you make one corporate resolution this New Year, why not embrace PR as part of your sales and marketing armoury. Charlie Laidlaw is a director of David Gray PR and a partner in Laidlaw Westmacott. Image source
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