1. What seems to be the most important aspects of preparing a public relations plan?
To me, the most important aspects of preparing a public relations plan are defining the goals/objectives and identifying the target audience.
Without a clear objective, it would be impossible for the company to know whether or not the campaign was successful. There would be a lack of direction and team members may be unsure of the following steps to take. Similarly, a target audience has to be identified for communication tactics to be tailored accordingly.
2. Which marketing concepts may especially apply to effective public relations campaigns?
Public relations and marketing are two functions that work very closely in order for campaigns to be successful. For both functions, targeting and positioning are especially relevant concepts.
Targeting means deciding and focusing on a specific audience - who your campaign messages will be tailored for. To properly tailor a message, the PR team has to understand the audience - their mindsets, their behaviour etc - and this boils down to selecting the audience, which is targeting.
Positioning is a concept of clearly differentiating a product in a way that it stands out from competitors’ products. This could mean new or unique features that value-add to the product. In other words, having a unique selling point (USP). With a strong USP, companies would be more able to engage the media and earning media coverage would be easier.
3. If you are undertaking your own public relations campaign currently or in the future, please share any aspects of your planning process.
Currently, I am not taking on a public relations campaign. If I were, I would:
First, define my goals.
Next, define my target audience and differentiate my product, which as previously mentioned, especially apply to effective public relations campaigns.
Then, I would identify my communication tactics, which may be dependent on who my target audience is. For example, social media would be an ideal communication channel for a PR campaign targeting youths. I would make sure to include both one way communication models - for publicity and dissemination of information to create awareness of the campaign - and two way communication models - for strategic management of public relations.
In addition, I would place more focus on media relations, through these steps.
Company decides on the objective for the story before engaging the media
Linking back to clarity of objective , the company must decide on story ideas/news angles to pitch.
Conduct research on reporters before approaching the media
Find out the different reporters for the various beats. It only makes sense that a company hoping to promote a tech product directly contacts reporters from that specific ‘beat’.
Respond to calls from the media
It is important that the company ensures that a qualified media relations/corporate communications professional speaks to the media. This means having an approved spokesperson list (more than one spokesperson) in the scenario that a chosen spokesperson is unable to attend to the media.
Prepare for interviews
To conduct a good interview, the spokesperson has to be prepared by going through the FAQs.
Reporters are always pressed for time. It is likely that they set aside a fixed amount of time for any interview. It is therefore essential for the PR team to prepare creative ways to communicate messages to reporters. For instance, statistics in the form of pie charts and graphs to aid the visualisation process.
Maintain ongoing relations
Media relations means fostering a long term relationship with the media. Outside of sending press releases and holding press conferences, meet reporters not only when a story is required by whenever possible. For instance, during festivities. Doing so builds goodwill and credibility.
Throughout the planning and execution of the campaign, I would communicate and work closely with any relevant departments and report to the CEO/executive communication department. Doing so would provide me with feedback and suggestions to strengthen the campaign.