Data-Driven PR Campaign Planning: Part 1



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An impactful PR campaign can attract positive media attention and influence brand awareness, reputation and sales for your brand for years to come. However, to generate that level of clout, PR campaigns require more than just a press release, media outreach or fundraising event. They must be carefully planned. 

A public relations campaign is a series of activities that are planned in advance to achieve a clear objective, such as improving brand reputation, raising awareness of a new product launch, or reaching a specific audience to influence desired actions.  

PR campaign planning includes:

  • Setting clear objectives that help drive measurable business impact and organizational success
  • Identifying and understanding the appropriate audiences
  • Developing a strategy to effectively communicate messages that resonate to these audiences
  • Measuring how well these activities achieved the objectives

Start with situation analysis and research.

Before setting your objectives, you’ll need to conduct research around where your brand is today relative to the industry, the competition and the environment that you’re operating in. You’ll want to know how your story will fit into the broader industry trends and what the media are currently interested in. It’s also important to evaluate the past year of your PR activity, including reviewing media coverage and identifying what worked best. 

Where will you find these insights? If you have a media monitoring solution, such as Onclusive, you’ll discover a wealth of information in the big data analytics provided by these advanced technologies—from the current trends to the most impactful stories, authors, publications and messages that drove desired actions. Don’t forget to research your competitors and other organizations that have been in a similar position before. 

65% of PR pros said the ability to quantify Big Data Analytics will be the most important skill to the future of the industry (USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 2019)

Determine your campaign objectives.

What is the needle that needs to be moved and why? Your PR campaign should be designed to achieve a clear, measurable objective, which will help determine the strategy to get there. As we discussed in The Executive’s Guide to Building and Leading an Impactful Communications Team, this step should start with reviewing your communications goals, which should emerge from—and align with—your overall company goals.

Onclusive recommends setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) objectives, which inherently include measurement and evaluation as a core component of the planning process. 

Generally, PR campaign objectives may include increasing awareness and driving sales for a new product launch, enhancing brand reputation by a certain percentage, or recruiting new talent in specific numbers. 

Ask these questions to determine your PR campaign objectives:

  • What are the communications objectives? How do they link to the business objectives?
  • What is the problem you are trying to solve with the PR campaign? How does it fit into the communications objectives?
  • How clear are your PR campaign objectives? 
  • Is each objective SMART?
  • If you accomplish the objectives, will you be satisfied with your PR investment?

Know your audience.

Now that you’ve determined your business objectives, it’s time to bring your PR campaign vision to life. However, before crafting your message or choosing the delivery channels, you must decide who you want to receive this message and how you’re looking to impact them. The more specific you are about who you want to target to achieve the ‘why’—the solution to the problem you’ve identified above—the more impactful your plan and creative execution will be. 

Knowing your key audiences, their pain and passion points, what they need and how you can add value is essential for your strategic campaign planning. You should consider all members of your target audience, such as your customers, prospects and the people who influence them, media and perhaps even employees.

Ask these questions to better understand your audiences:

  • Which audiences are you talking to?
  • What do they care about?
  • What do you know about them?
  • What do you need to find out and where can you find it?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • Why are they not doing it now?

Define your channels.

After specifying your target audiences, you’ll want to choose the best mix of platforms for delivering your message, including specific channels such as TV, top tier digital media outlets or social media, and specific formats such as a press release, a press conference or a series of videos. This information will help you strategize your messaging, find the right outlets and distribute to them effectively.

This is where knowing your audiences makes a big difference. Who you’re targeting will determine the most effective tactics to grab their attention and the channels that they engage with the most to reach them where they are.

Ask these questions to define your channels:

  • Which communications channels and formats are the right ones for your audiences?
  • What data do you have to support this?
  • Which content will be distributed where, and how will the content be adapted for each channel?

Using a media monitoring and PR analytics platform can be instrumental in understanding which platforms work best for your target audiences. Check out these tools from Onclusive to see how we can help by automatically tracking all of your worldwide media coverage, including digital, newswire, print, broadcast and radio, and analyzing which types of content drove the most impact for your brand.

Stay tuned for the conclusion of our Data-Driven PR Campaign Planning blog series next week.

Join us for PR Campaign Planning: Why Analytics is Key to Success webinar on Thursday, June 10th. In this session, our panelists will discuss PR planning principles and some popular models, how to use AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework as a planning tool, the role of PR analytics data & insight in PR campaign planning, and what metrics are most helpful for PR campaign planning.