Goal Setting for PR Programs
Setting goals is a task that many small businesses do annually. However, setting corporate goals doesn't always take into account integrating corporate messaging with the company's communications plan. First determine what the company's goals are for the upcoming year.
- Initially introduce your company or a new product into the market?
- Increase sales or marketshare?
- Increase name, product, or service recognition?
- Improve your company's or executive's reputation?
Once the company's goals are established, the PR team needs to align their efforts with the company's current focus. Public relations campaigns, while ongoing and consistent, do take on short-term, project-style features when news is in the pipeline. In the goal-setting stage, it is important to lay out your expected results for the marketing team, so they can strive to meet your goals. You will revisit these initial projections at the end of the campaign to measure how well your goals were reached through public relations efforts.
To attain measurable results, it is best to write out your goals at the beginning of the campaign. Having something concrete by which to measure your achievements will enable you to judge the effectiveness or success of the public relations program. This goal-setting stage should include evaluating the number of press briefings you expect to be set, selecting the top five publications in which you want to get article placements, and determining whether getting a cover story is a must-have. If you are introducing a new product, you should establish the number of product reviews you expect to see. If you are trying to raise awareness of your company and increase your name recognition, determine how you expect to measure those somewhat intangible results. Do you expect to have editors refer to you in articles and conference coordinators to call you to speak at local or industry events? These goals should be realistic. Don't go into a project demanding a cover story in an industry-renowned publication, only to realize after the campaign is completed that the news wasn't that exciting. Once you determine your goals, you can chose those vehicles that will help fulfill them.
Research, Planning, and Preparation
You must complete numerous activities before embarking on a public relations campaign, including market research and competitive analysis. Before choosing your public relations vehicles, you should determine if your goal is to better position yourself against other products, other markets, or other companies. If you want to conduct a full-blown market research program, I recommend you hire a marketing firm to conduct these activities for you before your PR campaign, since they can be very complex and time-consuming.
The second step is identifying your company spokesperson(s). Ideally, your spokesperson should be the highest-ranking executive possible and he or she should have the expertise to handle the toughest questions. Your spokesperson should be the "voice of the company" in articles, on talk shows, and at conferences; however, when members of the media call the company directly (and this will happen more and more as you become a reliable resource for editors and reporters), the calls should be directed to the Marketing Communications Manager, not the spokesperson, so the manager can prepare the spokesperson for responding to the nature of the call.
Next, develop a list of key media outlets. This "Core List" of media targets is the skeleton of your media relations program. Savvy practitioners realize that 20 % of the individuals in a market will influence the other 80 percent. You should identify groups of influential publications, including local and national print, broadcast, and online media outlets in those markets and trade categories that reach and influence your publics. And don't forget industry analysts, as well. Your extended list should include name, title, e-mail and mailing addresses (mailing address and street address may be different), and phone and fax numbers. Other essential information should include preferred method of material receipt and deadlines (both day and time).
Each of the media outlets has a schedule of topics they plan to write on in upcoming issues, called an Editorial Calendar. Authored article opportunities, speaking opportunities, and award nominations are also on a schedule and have their own calendars. If you have time, select those articles within all the target outlets that your spokesperson is qualified to comment on, as well as all the authored article and award opportunities you'd like to apply for, and create your own opportunities spreadsheet. Cultivating long-term relationships with these editors can lead to articles that educate your target market, while at the same time educating the publications' readers.
Once you've determined your target audience and your spokesperson, you need to identify who in your organization will be conducting your outreach. This is where a public relations or media relations agency is beneficial, but if you have staff members who meet the following criteria, they'll do just fine.
- Who in your company are your biggest cheerleaders?
- Who has the best attitude?
- Who are the most dedicated and persistent in their positions?
- And most importantly, who can look rejection in the eye, time after time, day after day, and still come out fighting for your company's cause?
If you're lucky enough to have one or two of these dynamos in your organization, congratulations! You have now pinpointed your media relations team, and you're ready to prepare your arsenal of media relations supplies.
Media kits help you get most of your relevant information out in one neat package, and, in turn, help editors do their jobs more effectively. Anything that makes a reporter's job easier increases your opportunities for exposure. Build your kit to ensure it's a functional and accurate presentation of your company's product and services. A media kit serves as an introductory piece to editors, analysts, investors, and partners. A comprehensive kit includes the following and should be available in print & on your website:
- Company background information
- Biographies of spokespeople (You may want to include a headshot if the spokesperson is speaking at a tradeshow where the kit is being distributed.)
- Case histories, testimonials, customer quotes
- Product or service materials
- Customer or reference list
- PowerPoint presentation snippets (once again, if a representative from the company is speaking at a tradeshow where the kit is being distributed.)
- Business card of the primary communications contact at your company (This is very important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is media accessibility.)
As a rule, the contents of a media kit are more important than the format you present them in, but you want to ensure that the whole package accurately represents the culture of your company. A high-end, full-color, glossy folder will make your business look successful and well established, but you don't want to blow your entire budget on printing (and reporters know you're bluffing if your kit is snazzier than Microsoft's). On the other hand, if you package your materials in a taped-up manila folder, you also send the wrong signal. Despite the emphasis on a "paperless environment," many editors still prefer a hard copy media kit to electronic documents.
You should have enough media kits to send to each of your most important editorial contacts, and even more if you plan to exhibit or speak at conferences or tradeshows. It is a good rule of thumb to also reproduce the media kit components on your website.