At 5.30am this morning I was thinking about an email I received the other day. It contained a PR action plan that went something like this:
– Write media release
– Develop profile document
– Set-up interviews
I didn’t know what the company was trying to communicate, whether there was a theme or platform it was using to engage the media, or if it was part of wider marketing activity.
Besides the fact it presupposed that media relations was the only answer, at no point was there any reference to strategy or campaign development.
For me, this is like driving around Australia without a map. You’re going to get lost.
Before you consider sending out a media release or writing a blog post or running a competition, consider this. Why?
Why are you doing it? Is it to drive traffic to your website to increase sales, or is it to establish your company as an authority in order to break into a new market?
Understanding this is key to developing your strategy and helps to define your objectives. This in turn provides the guardrails for all your PR activity and means you can measure whether you’ve been successful or not.
For example, you’re an online furniture store that has just launched and you need to generate website traffic in order to make sales. You know that women aged 25-45 are your core market and that they rely on respected authorities for advice and inspiration on what to buy.
A strategy could involve encouraging word of mouth recommendation of your website by introducing your brand to influential people in interior design.
Once this is in place you can develop a campaign. The campaign provides a theme that makes all the activity hang together.
For our online furniture store, we could create a campaign around the realities of interior design, tying into the plethora of reality TV shows about home renovation.
A campaign tactic we could use is blogger outreach and would involve contacting bloggers who write about interior design. You could challenge the bloggers to choose the pieces from your store that they would use if they were taking part in Channel 9’s The Block, and encouraging them to write a series of blogs including how-to hints and tips.
This profiles your furniture and provides them with content. You’ll be able to track traffic to your website from their blogs which means you’re able to measure whether it worked.
This is obviously a condensed version of how you develop a strategy and a basic example. There is much more involved but the underlying message is simple. Just ask why.
Ps – if you do need help understanding the difference between strategy and tactics, it’s worth reading Sandra Oliver’s book Public Relations Strategy.