For communications and PR professionals, planning is one of the first steps to kicking off an announcement or campaign. But why exactly is strategic PR planning so important? What happens if you and your PR team invest more into strategic planning in your campaign workflow
Ultimately, strategic PR planning can make all the difference in driving impactful and successful campaigns to achieve your goals and we’ll explore how. From setting clear objectives to mapping out tactics and streamlining collaboration processes, we’ll explore the key reasons why strategic planning is vital for comms and PR teams. We’ll also explore how planning tools can advance your strategies and processes even further for optimal planning, efficiency, and success.
Why should you prioritise strategic PR planning?
A campaign is only as successful as the strategies behind it and the planning that goes into it. A successful campaign requires research, data-driven insights, audience identification, objective setting, messaging strategies, and much, much more. For this reason, it’s really vital that you make strategic planning a priority, to help organise and simplify these processes.
Through in-depth and strategic planning, you can run your most successful PR campaigns. Aside from generating direct revenue, there’s an incredible range of benefits to be gained from successful campaigns that we’ve listed below.
1.Increased Brand Visibility:
A successful PR campaign can significantly boost brand visibility by securing media coverage in various outlets. This increased exposure helps to raise awareness of the organisation and its offerings among the target audience. For example, the “Share a Coke” campaign by Coca-Cola generated extensive media attention and widespread social media buzz. The campaign required a staggering amount of planning and alignment between multiple teams and departments worldwide. In the end, it created a viral sensation, resulting in increased brand visibility and consumer engagement.
PR campaigns play a crucial role in shaping and maintaining a positive reputation for organisations. Through strategic planning of messaging and storytelling, you can increase your chances of landing a campaign successfully. For instance, Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign aimed to raise awareness about the environmental impact of consumerism. Through analysis of public sentiment, combined with strategic comms planning, Patagonia positioned itself as a socially responsible brand, earning respect and admiration from consumers.
3.Improved Stakeholder Engagement:
Through strategic comm efforts, campaigns have the power to engage and connect with various stakeholders such as employees and investors. By effectively conveying the values, accomplishments, and future prospects of an organisation, PR initiatives can create a strong sense of belonging and loyalty among stakeholders. This engagement not only strengthens relationships but also encourages active participation and support which can in turn help boost public sentiment across various channels.
By utilising well-planned comm strategies, organisations can create a robust network of stakeholders who are aligned with their mission and vision, resulting in long-term success and sustainability.
4.Business Growth Generation:
Successful PR campaigns ultimately contribute to business growth by increasing brand awareness, attracting new customers, and driving sales. For example, Apple’s product launches are well known for the huge amount of buzz they generate among consumers. Their meticulously planned PR campaigns lead to this heightened interest that then translates directly into increased sales and market share for the company.
Why use a planning tool as a strategic lever?
Now that you have a clear picture of how you can benefit from dedicated strategic PR planning, we’ll explore how you can further capitalise on strategic comms and PR planning with a dedicated PR planning tool. It’ll become your strategic lever, providing enhanced structure, organisation, and efficiency throughout your entire campaign planning process to maximise your efforts.
Serving as your central hub for campaign planning, execution, and evaluation, you and your team will be able to effectively manage resources, timelines, and goals. Here’s a list of the key reasons why a planning tool is essential for successful PR campaigns:
A planning tool significantly enhances organisation within PR teams by providing a centralised platform for structured campaign management. With this tool, all campaign activities, timelines, tasks, and resources can be organised and accessed in one place, fostering seamless collaboration. This level of organisation ensures that team members have easy access to all relevant information, reducing the risks of miscommunication and missed opportunities.
By having a clear overview of the campaign’s progress and responsibilities, your team and any stakeholders involved can stay aligned, efficiently coordinate tasks, and identify any risks or areas for improvement. The enhanced organisation that results from a planning tool promotes transparency, accountability, and effective teamwork, ultimately contributing to the overall success of PR campaigns.
A planning tool ultimately plays a pivotal role in enabling strategic planning and decision-making in the first place. A planning tool can provide valuable insights into media agendas so you have a full picture of what’s coming up. With this data, you can make fully informed decisions about what activities you should focus your attention on. This data-driven approach ensures that your efforts are targeted, refined, and aligned with organisational goals, ultimately leading to more successful and impactful campaigns.
Planning tools offer significant time-savings by streamlining various aspects of comms and PR strategies. These tools eliminate the need for manual and time-consuming tasks, such as searching for the right journalists for press releases or coordinating collaboration across internal teams. With automation capabilities, planning tools simplify a wide variety of processes. They often provide databases of journalists and media contacts, making it easier to identify relevant contacts and manage comms efficiently. By automating repetitive tasks and centralising comms, planning tools will enable you and your team to focus time and efforts on more strategic and high-value activities.
4.Proof of Value:
A planning tool allows for comprehensive evaluation of PR campaigns by providing a centralised location for campaign data and results. This enables you to assess info that will prove the effectiveness of strategies, tactics, and messaging. By analysing the data and identifying areas of success and areas for improvement, your team can learn from experiences and apply those learnings to future campaigns, ultimately enhancing overall performance.
These points all come together for the overall benefit of a streamlined workflow for enhanced efficiency and improved productivity. By eliminating manual, repetitive tasks you can further improve the productivity of your team. More attention can then be focused on strategic planning and relationship building, resulting in more impactful campaigns.
What functionalities to look for in a planning tool
Now that we understand how a PR planning tool will optimise your planning processes and support your overall workflow, we can look at exactly what functionalities you should be looking for in one. Here’s a deep dive into the key PR planner tool functionalities that are essential for running successful campaigns:
1.Effective Campaign Planning and Organisation:
To ensure effective campaign planning and organisation, a PR planner tool should provide you with a centralised location to seamlessly plan and coordinate campaigns. This requires functionality to create campaign timelines, list internal actions or notes, attach external event data, assign resources, and establish key messaging strategies.
With the ability to create timelines, you gain a visual overview of a campaign’s flow and important milestones. Listing internal actions or notes promotes collaboration and clear communication within a team. Attaching external event data aligns PR efforts with important upcoming activities. Establishing key messaging strategies maintains consistent communication. And assigning resources ensures it’s all carried out through efficient task management. By leveraging these functionalities, a PR planner tool will enhance your overall processes and streamline campaign execution.
2.Insights and Trends:
As mentioned above under ‘Why use a planning tool as a strategic lever?’ a planning tool can provide valuable insights into media agendas so you have a full picture of what’s coming up. With a planning tool, you gain access to info that may be collected from thousands of sources, including reports, surveys, launches, financial results, legislative announcements, and industry conferences. Armed with this data, you can make fully informed decisions about what activities you should focus your attention on. This is crucial for proactive planning so you can capitalise on these activities and your efforts. When you’ve anticipated what’s coming up, you can align your messaging and campaigns with the interests of your target audience. The outcome here is an increased likelihood of capturing attention and engagement.
To maintain a competitive edge and ensure that your PR activities are relevant, timely, and impactful, you can leverage a planning tool that enables you to search news and events by date, business, industry, event type, geography, and more, at a global or even national level.
3.Media Database and Contact Management:
An effective PR planner tool should include an extensive media database, offering users access to a diverse array of journalists, influencers, and media outlets. It should ideally provide you with advanced search, filter, and segmentation capabilities, to enable you to refine your contact lists based on specific criteria like location or publication.
Additionally, the tool should facilitate efficient contact management, so you can easily track interactions and ensure contact information remains up-to-date. With these features in your PR planner tool, your media outreach efforts will be streamlined and you’ll be able to target the most relevant contacts, ultimately improving the value of your efforts.
4.Comms and Distribution:
An effective PR planner tool should offer comprehensive visibility to your internal teams, allowing them to have a clear understanding of your upcoming comm activities and distribution plans. By providing this visibility, the tool facilitates the establishment of a “single source of truth,” ensuring that all team members are aligned and have access to accurate and up-to-date information. This promotes full transparency of campaign activities across multiple channels, including email, social media, and external media outlets. With such transparency, teams can collaborate more efficiently, make informed decisions, and effectively coordinate their efforts to maximise the impact of their comms outreach.
Media engagement capabilities that enable effective interaction with the media, while understanding current priorities and avoiding conflicts with your own comms, are crucial in a PR planner tool. By understanding the stories that are top of mind for journalists, you can tailor your approach and increase the likelihood of gaining media coverage. Additionally, reaching out to journalists before a news story goes live allows you to proactively engage and potentially secure more extensive coverage. These capabilities not only enhance your media presence but also foster more meaningful relationships with the media, leading to long-term benefits and successful PR campaigns.
6.Collaboration and Workflow Management:
PR campaigns often involve multiple team members and stakeholders. A PR planner tool should facilitate collaboration by allowing users to create task lists, set priorities, and establish dependencies. This will ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how it fits into the overall campaign strategy from a ‘single source of truth’. By providing clarity through a planning tool, you can avoid potential clashes, optimise productivity, and minimise delays.
You’ll want to use planning tools that are built with team collaboration in mind for seamless planning so you and your team can:
- Confidently set and meet deadlines
- Avoid potential clashes of resources and activities
- Identify cross-team collaboration opportunities
- Share internal calendar activities including comms, events, and campaigns across teams
- Share results of customised searches for external event opportunities with colleagues
A final essential functionality to look for in a PR planning tool is report building. This feature proves invaluable in several ways. The ability to generate and distribute reports within a PR planning tool will further streamline your workflow management and promote seamless collaboration. With customisable report-building capabilities, you can effortlessly create and share info on upcoming internal and external campaigns and activities across teams. This will help to foster transparency among colleagues and stakeholders, keeping everyone up-to-date and informed.
By sharing comprehensive reports, you can prevent the potential clashes we mentioned above and ensure smooth coordination. Sharing easily generated reports will also help to facilitate a shared understanding of campaign timelines, allowing for efficient decision-making and a stronger alignment of efforts.