TMCnet - World's Largest Communications and Technology Community




Martin Wales

[September 9, 2002]

Customer Catcherâ„¢

By Martin Wales

Profiting With PR Power, Part II:
Building Your Strategic PR Plan

Public relations (PR) is critical to success in technology marketing. Are you getting maximum leverage from PR? Is your PR integrated with your overall marketing plan? In this, the second installment of our series on public relations, we address developing your strategic PR plan.

A strategic PR plan is developed in parallel with your strategic marketing plan. Properly weaved together, your PR magnifies and multiplies your marketing results. By concentrating on the development of your strategic PR plan, you also come to realize that PR is more than media coverage. It is an effective instrument for brand development, investor relations, connecting with industry analysts and media, and developing customer loyalty.

Laura Love, president of GroundFloor Media, believes, "Many [companies] lack a strategic PR plan as the result of the continuing misconception of the difference between PR and marketing." She says, "Marketing is focused on the customer. PR professionals focus on other constituents who may not contribute to the bottom line but are essential to the company's ability to conduct business. These include employees, investors, competitors, the press, industry and financial analysts, and members of the community in which the company does business."

What Is A Strategic PR Plan?
A strategic PR plan is a document defining targets and objectives you desire, and how PR is implemented to reach them. Love suggests you start every year with one and review it quarterly. Integration is so important to her that she uses the terms marketing and PR interchangeably. "A strategic marketing, integrated, PR plan is generally about 16 pages and takes a month to put together. Everyone in the marketing department and from the executive team should have input."

The benefit is an extremely valuable, positive reputation and professional credibility. This is based on the public's trust, confidence, perception, and confidence in your company created and sustained by your consistent, positive PR messaging. The rewards are increased prospect inquires, satisfied buyers, and greater revenue. Illustrating the value of trust, recently we've seen public companies lose up to 96 percent of their value, almost overnight, based on a loss of public trust due to their illegal or incompetent accounting and the resulting negative PR.

Your communication foundation for consistent and clear PR is built on key messages. Effective strategic PR plans continually broadcast and entrench key messages into every company activity. Whether it's a key product, service, or corporate message, all must know the "company line." Everyone talks the same talk. Employees and execs all know, "Who we are, what we do, what we produce, where we are going and where we've been."

The Danger Of Working Without A Plan
"If you don't build a steadfast communication foundation on the ground floor, future expansion becomes unstable," Love claims. Companies that lack a strong foundational message falter when putting out multiple, changing, and conflicting messages. They don't have a clear, simple message that is consistent throughout the organization and all business communications.

Internally, there is a loss of alignment between departments and without it you lose overall consistency. People don't know what is expected of them. Whether it's the call center, sales or marketing, or engineers, they need to know bottom line goals. This inconsistency eventually moves outside the organization.

As a result, prospective clients, existing customers, the industry, and marketplace become confused. Confusion leads to apprehension. Apprehension leads to reluctance. Reluctance leads to hesitation to deal with you -- as an investor, a customer, a technology partner, or even as a supplier. So, let's avoid that and take a closer look at developing your strategic PR plan.

Building Blocks
Here is a brief outline for you to build an initial, skeleton plan for yourself and your company.

  1. Situation Analysis: Where is your company positioned? What do they offer and what does the competition have? Who's your target and what issues do they face? What can drive sales?

  2. Overall Objective: Have one broad, overall objective to set the company direction. What one headline would you like to read about your company? Examples include selecting key messages, winning or regaining leadership in the marketplace, or taking a certain percentage of market share.

  3. Develop Key Messages: Write simple, powerful, descriptive messages for both your corporate key message and your product/service key message. Each product should have its own key message. A GroundFloor Media client, e-talk Corporation chose a customer-focused objective in the previous step. As a result, the internal headline and key message scripted by e-talk was, "Customer centric innovations for call centers: the pulse of CRM." They wanted to ensure maximum customer satisfaction and develop products by delivering what clients wanted.

  4. Set Goals: Set no more than five or six main goals. One goal could be to educate key media and analysts on your new management, partners, or integrated solutions. Another expands your company's media coverage in targeted trade and business press, as well as within the analyst community.

  5. Strategy: How can you work together to reach the goals? Involve all stakeholders and departments in contributing creative ideas and suggestions. Strategic thinking is more specific than goals, but more general than any one tactic. A sample strategy is to promote customers in case studies in order to build credibility and validate your products and services.

  6. Tactics: Tactics are specific actions under each strategic directive, e.g. write a case study for each new client and seek prior permission for publication by embedding it in your sales contracts. Another tactic is posting your case studies on your Web site. Set milestones for each tactic, like getting 10 media or customer appointments during an executive road show. Numbers allow you to quantify your success or failure.

  7. Review And Measurement: Revisit your situation analysis and note what's changed in the marketplace. Reevaluate your strategic plan yearly and your tactics quarterly. Realign tactics to meet your goals, if you're unsatisfied.

In Closing
Laura Love sums it up nicely. "PR is a very cost-effective way of delivering your corporate message. You're not paying large dollars for advertising. You're not spending a great deal of money on direct mail but you're building brand awareness. You're connecting to the public that cares about your product, service, or company. If you develop a strategic PR plan that's integrated very nicely with your entire advertising, marketing, direct mail and Internet marketing plan, PR can be one of the most cost-effective, efficient ways to develop awareness about your company or service."

Martin Wales, The Customer Catcherâ„¢, advises technology companies on marketing for maximum results with minimum risk using their existing resources. Get your own audiotape series on Profiting with PR Power: How to Successfully and Affordably Market Your Technology. Hear PR pros reveal their step-by-step systems for building brand awareness, using affordable strategies and tactics -- then experience their success. E-mail us today at info@customercatcher.com with "PR Power" in the subject line for your special TMC-subscriber, limited-time offer.

Click here for an e-mail reminder every time this column is published.
Like what you've read? Go to past Customer Catcher columns.

Technology Marketing Corporation

2 Trap Falls Road Suite 106, Shelton, CT 06484 USA
Ph: +1-203-852-6800, 800-243-6002

General comments: tmc@tmcnet.com.
Comments about this site: webmaster@tmcnet.com.


© 2021 Technology Marketing Corporation. All rights reserved | Privacy Policy