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
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
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
Here is a brief outline for you to build an initial, skeleton plan for
yourself and your company.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 Catcher™, 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:
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