Where is your company in its public relations planning for 2018? Whether a brand needs B2B or B2C PR next year, the steps to manage the process are similar.
It’s best to begin by looking at the big picture to see where PR fits in the overall marketing scheme of things and then take a look at the following steps to help put together a successful 2018 PR plan.
A good plan starts with a full accounting of the past year’s PR initiatives and their success when measured by established KPIs. These “key performance indicators” can include the following:
Media mentions – The quantity of coverage generated on behalf of the brand
Media impressions – The “eyeballs” reached with the coverage. Some still use Advertising Equivalency to evaluate coverage, but the industry deems AVE a less than substantive measurement in most cases.
Website traffic driven by earned media generated from the PR campaign
Content quality, including a sentiment analysis
Share of voice – This can be a valuable metric in comparison to a key competitor
We’ve addressed the importance of a solid mission statement before. Ideally, the organization’s statement of its mission is still relevant to the business environment as well as internal audiences. It should outline the company’s purpose, measures of success, how its offering is valued, and by whom. A mission statement may not need to be rewritten, but it does need to be revisited. Each year the team will want to make sure the statement is still viable and the company is still living up to it. And, on occasion, changes will be warranted if there have been significant shifts within the organization, its goals, or the industry.
Again, a good place to start is by comparing budgets from past campaigns and looking at what’s viable for the coming year, as informed by business conditions, company performance, and goals. Another way to plan for the coming year is to prioritize certain PR-driven initiatives or tactics and write the budget around those key elements. Does the program require earned media to support a new product, or is executive thought leadership a key driver of business? Most likely, it will be a combination of both, but it’s important to review the time and out-of-pocket costs needed to meet goals.
CMOs and other decision-makers will determine how to invest in the communications talent needed to get the job done. Considerations include current staffing, available budget and the company’s proclivity for outside consultants and agencies. The first PR option is to retain an agency and to determine the right size and makeup for a team that will fit brand needs. Another option is to build the PR function in-house, or plan to supplement the internal team with contractors for specialist functions like content or special events.
Now is the time to review everything the company and brand have at their disposal for a fresh new PR push. Interview up and down the organization to see what innovative things may be afoot, and what’s worth talking about. Speak to HR and other departments about CSR and other interesting or unusual company efforts. See if any individuals have personally compelling stories that are worth sharing. Tap research staffers or others involved in data to see about culling noteworthy stats and other numbers that can tell a cool company story. The best PR resources may be internal and just require a little digging to suss out.
A good exercise to help set some realistic PR goals is to start at the end of the coming year and ask where leadership would like to be at that point. Talk through these goals first. These can include anything from “total category domination” to the more modest “20% increase in sales.” Codify all of them, even the lofty ones to work back to what will constitute actual, achievable goals for the coming year. It’s important in this exercise to also invite others outside of the marketing department for some different POV that will help the team create a well-rounded set of PR goals that everyone can work toward in the coming year.