12 steps to a successful PR campaign
Campaigns are a significant part of the public relations profession and should be carried out with meticulous planning and thorough management. Specific step-by-step measures should be taken when planning any PR campaign to ensure it meets the objectives set or, in other words, achieves what needs to be achieved. Thorough planning processes in PR campaigns demonstrate that whatever results occur are deliberate or, indeed, have be taken into consideration. Here I’ll list the 12 stages of planning a successful PR campaign. RESEARCH
No matter what kind of PR activity you’re involved in, research will be at the core of it. Depending on what you’re doing, different research methods can be used at various times. For example, if you’re working on a campaign to influence teachers that a school drug testing programme will help eradicate drug abuse among pupils, you might want to find out their current opinion by carrying out a nationwide questionnaire among teachers. Or maybe you’re embarking on an internal communications audit and want to speak more in depth with employees. Initiating a focus group might be a good means to do this. Research methods are categorised into two groups:
This is finding out the information you want first hand: Questionnaires, one-to-one interviews, telephone interviews, focus groups, blogs etc. Secondary
Often called desk research and involves gathering information from already published sources: Books, journals, papers, libraries, Internet etc. SITUATION ANALYSIS
The research you’ve carried out should clearly define the current situation with regard to the campaign. Depending on what’s involved, this might include an organisation’s current situation in the market, how it’s perceived by customers or staff or how it’s fairing financially. Going back to the drug testing in schools example, it might include the current situation with regard to public opinion on the issue or how it’s been portrayed in the media. Whatever your campaign involves, you must be absolutely aware of everything both internally and externally. From this you can carry out a situation SWOT analysis to examine Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of the current situation, and a PEST analysis to examine the external environment Politically, Economically, Socially and Technologically. OBJECTIVES
Once you’re aware of the problem(s) your organisation is facing, you can then define the objectives of the campaign. The objectives are what is hoped to be the end result of the PR activity. Each objective must be SMART. Specific: Are they clearly defined and comprehensible?
Measurable: Can each objective be measured in the evaluation? Achievable: Considering other factors (e.g. budget and timescale) are they achievable? Realistic: Are you being realistic given the resources you have? Time: When do you want to achieve the set objectives?
Depending on the situation, sometimes the objectives set can initially be before the research has been undertaken. IDENTIFYING PUBLICS
Who do you want to talk to? The research carried out in the initial stages of the planning process should have identified each public relevant to the campaign. This is crucial to ensure your key messages are communicated efficiently as possible. The research also should have identified each public’s current attitude to the situation allowing you to tailor your key messages appropriately. Using the drug testing in schools example, publics can also be sub-categorised into: Latent publics: Groups that face a problem but fail to recognise it – pupils Aware publics: Groups that recognise a problem exists – teachers, media, parents Active publics: Groups that are doing something about the problem – Drug organisations, the Government. IDENTIFYING STAKEHOLDERS
Once the publics of this campaign have been categorised, it is then important to identify who the stakeholders are. A stakeholder analysis is not as specific as...
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