So, you know all about PR and what it can do for your business, and you’re looking to make the leap. However, as a small business you don’t always have the funds to hire an agency, but that’s no problem, you can do the vast majority of it yourself! We’re here to give you some tips on how to run a PR campaign yourself, so gather round, it’s time to put together a fabulous campaign so you can start seeing great results. Here are nine steps to building a great PR campaign:
Set goals: What do you want to achieve?
What does success look like to you? Once you decide what the end game is, then you can decide how to get there. There is no point in putting together a strategy if you don’t know what you want to accomplish. In fact, you will find that your strategy will lack direction, which means you could end up doing things that aren’t right for your brand.
Decide on your budget
This always seems to be the toughest thing for any business to do, especially small businesses or start-ups. There are a couple of things you should do before setting your budget. First, conduct a bit of research to determine industry best practices, and talk to other people in the same situation. Look online and gather as much research as you can, and then sit down and work it all out on a spreadsheet. This will allow for comprehensive accounting for you and an accountant, if in the future you hire one, but make sure you take your time doing this and getting it checked, as mistakes in Excel can be costly.
If you plan to hire a third party to help you put your strategy together and execute, that also has to be factored in. The two most important things to realise are that you won’t get anything for free and you need to be honest with yourself. Even if it’s time spent knocking on doors and you want to do it yourself, that is time spent away from your regular business operation, and time is money. When you factor in a third party, they usually base their fees on an hourly estimate. The cheapest is not always the best option, but neither is the most expensive.
Find an agency that will work with your budget. You have to make sure that you are honest with how much you can spend and work within those parameters. If you are working with an agency, it’s frustrating for both parties if you say there is no budget and then you complain when you see the proposed quote that it is too high.
Decide on your timeframe
Depending on what your campaign’s objectives are you can determine when you would like to start/finish your campaign. Make sure you are giving yourself enough time to get all the prep work done at the beginning!
Identify your target audience
Is this campaign meant to target a niche audience? Perhaps there is an audience that you think your brand would be perfect for, but you haven’t really had the opportunity to tap into it yet. Decide who you want to reach and then make sure you learn everything you can about them – where do they go online? Who influences their decision-making? How do they like to learn about new brands? Etc.
What is your story?
Determine what story you are telling. That means finding the unique sweet spot that will make your brand stand out from the rest of your competitors. You need to be able to identify why this is important for your target audience.
What channels do you want to utilise?
With so many options available to you, you need to reign yourself in a bit. Don’t spread your budget and time too thin by trying to target too many channels at once. Once you have identified your target audience, then it should become clear as to what channels you can and should use. Keep in mind that your channels may be determined partially by your budget!
At this point in your planning, you need to research different aspects of your strategic choices. If you are having an event, what other events are on the same day in your city/industry that would conflict? Have any of your competitors done similar things, and did it work for them? How can you make your idea unique? What are the costs associated with what you would like to do? Educate yourself on what you need to know before putting your strategy into action.
Create a critical path
A critical path is just a fancy name for a timeline. Work backwards from your end goal and note major milestones you would like to hit in your campaign. Then flesh it out by putting in tasks and who is responsible to get each task done. The best way to track this is to set up a chart. I like to work in weekly increments. I identify the date, the task, and who is responsible in the first three columns. Always add one last column for “status” so you can get the satisfaction of writing “complete” when you have finished a task – it just feels good.
Hit the ground running
Once you feel comfortable with your critical path, you are good to go. It’s time to set your strategy in motion. Don’t be afraid to track results along to way to see if you need to tweak your approach as you go!