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How to Write a PR Plan?
Writing a PR plan can have significant effects on a business's performance. It can be the difference-maker between a poorly-reviewed organization and a community-loved establishment. A PR plan mostly contains organizational objectives that relate to branding and an organization's reputation. Developing a well-written and effective PR plan ensures the accomplishment of these objectives and the positive image of an organization. However, inexperienced PR practitioners may find it difficult to write an effective PR plan. This article will discuss the various steps in writing a PR plan, from initial research to developing a budget plan.
How to Write a PR Plan
Identify PR Issues and Opportunities
The first step in writing a PR plan is identifying public relations issues and opportunities. This will involve extensive research that will act as the foundation for the other sections of the PR plan (Anderson et al., 2009). PR practitioners can utilize various management and marketing principles, such as Marketing Mix and SWOT analysis , to analyze the organization and its environment. Through these methods, they can identify the factors that the PR plan needs to address. This will then allow them to set the objectives and strategies in the succeeding sections.
PR practitioners should state the issues that the PR plan will address in the first section of the document. This can be part of the introduction or in a separate paragraph that briefly states the issues and needs of the organization. Depending on an organization's operations and work culture, a PR practitioner might need to include a brief company background as part of the introduction or first section. They can include the organization’s current situation regarding public relations along with the issues and opportunities.
Define the Organization’s Corporate Identity and Image
From the initial research regarding an organization’s PR issues, researchers may find information that will allow them to define their current corporate identity and image. These two factors are integral in PR planning as they will dictate an organization’s current and preferred relationship with the public. According to Theaker (2001), corporate identity refers to an organization’s projected image of itself while a corporate image is the public’s perception of the organization. An organization with an inaccurate corporate identity may find various issues regarding its public relations due to its misinterpretations. Preferably, an organization will want to have a corporate identity that closely resembles a positive corporate image. PR practitioners can include this part in the introduction or a separate paragraph discussing the company’s corporate identity and image.
Identify the Target Audience
The next step in writing a PR plan is identifying the target audience for the PR events and programs. The field of public relations consists mostly of establishing relationships with the public which enhances the reputation of organizations (Theaker, 2001). Since the PR plan will focus on establishing relationships with the public, it is integral for PR practitioners to conduct research and identify their target audience. The initial research regarding PR issues can provide some information regarding demographics that the organization must reach to improve its corporate image. A PR plan’s target audience can be customers, suppliers, investors, government units, and other organizations.
This section must include the list of the target audiences of the PR programs. The section should include important details, such as age, gender, income, marital status, occupation, address, interests, likes, dislikes, and education level. These details can help PR practitioners become acquainted with their audience and develop targeted programs that will likely engage the participants (Kyzy, 2020). For example, identifying that investors preferred participating in face-to-face fundraising events will allow an organization to conduct a program that will cater to the preference.
Set PR Objectives and Goals
The next section of the PR plan is the objectives and goals. These factors will be dependent on the issues that the PR practitioners identified earlier in the document. Goals are general targets, such as increasing funding and increasing online engagements. Alternatively, objectives are specific and detailed intentions, such as increasing funding by $50,000 or increasing online engagement by 30% at the end of the year. Since goals are general, they can act as the overview of the PR objectives. To better understand the goals and objectives in the document, individuals can look at sample PR plans and analyze the differences between the concepts.
This section will mostly describe the PR objectives including time frames, percentages, and monetary funding targets. The list of objectives must be specific, measurable, agreed upon, relevant, and timetabled (Cabot, 2012). These characteristics are essential in PR planning as well as other business-related plans. Additionally, since PR includes branding, the objectives can include adopting a specific type of brand that will help support and promote the PR goals (Business Brand Types, 2020). However, it is important to note that an effective PR plan will benefit from a few related objectives instead of multiple non-related goals. PR practitioners must set the main issue that a particular PR plan will address and focus on it.
Choose the Mediums for PR Programs and Events
After setting the objectives and goals of the PR plan, the next step is to choose the medium that the organization will utilize for the programs and events. The medium will be the place or platform where most of the PR programs will take place. In the modern age, organizations can benefit from social media platforms as it proves to have positive effects on branding and reputation (Pakura & Rudeloff, 2020). However, certain programs may require traditional approaches, such as social events and tv commercials. PR practitioners must assess which approach to take depending on their objectives and target audience.
This part of the planning stage can be a short paragraph that describes each platform that the PR plan will utilize for its activities. However, PR practitioners can also include the list of mediums as a subsection for the next part, which is the Action Plan. PR plans with multiple platforms may benefit more from the former approach while plans that will utilize only one or two platforms should use the latter.
Create an Action Plan
Once the issues, objectives, target audience, and mediums are set; PR practitioners can move on with creating the action plan. This section will involve describing the specific action or activity that the organization will conduct within its chosen medium to achieve its PR objectives. An effective action plan will involve different actions regarding different objectives or target audiences. To do this, PR practitioners can divide the section into multiple subsections that describe the action for each target audience. For example, there will be a subsection that describes the action plan for targeting investors and another one for gaining the trust of local government units. Through this method, the PR practitioners can specifically provide detailed descriptions which will make the implementation process smoother.
When writing the action plan, it is integral that PR practitioners understand the difference between PR plans and Marketing plans. The PR plan does not aim to sell products but to build relationships with the public (Theaker, 2001). The action plans must avoid advertising products or services. Instead, it should the course of action that the organization will take to establish a positive corporate image and achieve its objectives. Including product advertising or marketing in the PR plan can potentially harm the program. However, some PR plans may focus on improving a product’s or service’s image. In this case, some forms of advertising are acceptable as long as it aids in building a positive image.
Develop Communication Strategies
The communication strategies section is similar to the action plan section, however, it focuses on communication with the public instead of actions. It will include a description of the organization’s approach to utilizing its chosen medium to communicate with the target audience. This is an important part of the PR plan since public relations rely on effective strategic communications. A well-researched and well-written communication strategies section can ensure continuous communication between an organization and its public which can lead to better relationships.
When writing the communication strategies section, PR practitioners can utilize the SWOT analysis and Marketing Mix principles to better develop effective steps to achieve the plan’s objectives. However, utilizing these principles during the first step may be sufficient in the development of effective strategies. Aside from this, PR practitioners can divide the section into multiple subsections, similar to the action plan. Through this method, PR practitioners can assign a specific communication strategy for each target audience. Including a media strategy in this section, which will describe communication with media platforms, can also improve the effectiveness of the plan.
Present an Accurate Budget Plan
The last part of a PR plan is the budget plan. In this section, PR practitioners must present an accurate budget plan that will enumerate all of the PR program’s expenses. When writing this section, it is important to indicate exact amounts and details about the purchases. This will ensure that the plan is cost-effective and does not waste any resources, financial or otherwise. It will also lead to transparency which higher management will appreciate and result in the approval of the plan. Market research cost, advertising cost, and design cost are some particulars that PR practitioners must include in the budget plan.
Writing a PR plan requires extensive market research, knowledge about the organization, and critical analysis of a business’s industry. The process begins with the identification of public relations issues that PR practitioners will utilize as the foundation of the plan. Next, the plan must define a company’s image, identify the target market, and set the PR objectives. Once the PR plan contains these steps, the PR practitioners must then develop strategies to achieve their objectives through action, communication, and setting a budget. The PR plan must describe each step in detail and ensure that the objectives of the document will lead to better public relationships.
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Business.qld.gov.au. (2020). Business Brand Types. Business Queensland. Available at https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/marketing-sales/marketing-promotion/branding-basics/brand-types. Accessed February 10, 2022.
Cabot, M. (2012). Introduction to Public Relations. San Jose State University. Available at https://www.sjsu.edu/ajeep/docs/IntroToPR.pdf. Accessed February 9, 2022.
Consultingsuccess.com. (n.d.). Sample Public Relations Plan: For A Non-Profit Center. Consulting Success. Available at https://www.consultingsuccess.com/sample-public-relations-plan. Accessed February 10, 2022.
Eastlothian.gov.uk. (n.d.) Event Marketing/PR Plan Template. Available at https://eastlothian.gov.uk. Accessed February 13, 2020.
Kyzy, M. (2020). Classification of the Target Audience and Methods of Working With It. International Correspondence Scientific and Practical Conference “International Scientific Review of the Problems and Prospects of Modern Science and Education”. Available at https://www.elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=43058874. Accessed February 13, 2022.
Pakura, S. & Rudeloff, C. (2020). How Entrepreneurs Build Brands and Reputation With Social Media PR: Empirical Insights From Start-Ups in Germany. Available at https://doi.org/10.1080/08276331.2020.1728490. Accessed February 9, 2022.
Scott, D. (2020). The New Rules of Marketing & PR.John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New Jersey. Available at https://books.google.com.ph/books?hl=en&lr=&id=mYzgDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=writing+a+PR+plan&ots=lyx-9TrV9C&sig=GXevaqEce8ythnfr-IWtgwu6hms&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=writing%20a%20PR%20plan&f=false . Accessed February 10, 2020.
Theaker, A. (2001). The Public Relations Handbook. Routledge, pp 5-6. Available at http://22.214.171.124:8080/jspui/bitstream/123456789/273/1/The%20Public%20Relation%20Handbook.PDF. Accessed February 9, 2022.
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