5 enduring functions of public relations

5 enduring functions of public relations https://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/25297.aspx via @PRDaily 11/08/18 #AudienceIdentification #ClearPositioning #Messaging #MessageDistribution #Feedback #Measurement Frank Strong is founder of Sword and the Script Media.

5 enduring functions of public relations

By Frank Strong | Posted: November 8, 2018

Two is the new five.

When people ask what will happen in the next five years, chances are that whatever it is will happen in just two.

A colleague said that at a recent seminar, and it really captures the chaotic pace of change we all must now endure. Our day-to-day work is fast and intense, and we must account for a dizzying array of new strategies, platforms and technological wonders.

It often makes me wonder: When we went to the office 20 years ago, what did we do all day? I think we spent a little more time on the fundamentals of PR, which, if we can pause long enough to take a breath, look like this:

1. Audience identification

Any effective communication program must begin by identifying the target audience. This is all-inclusive research that factors in the wants, needs and behavioral triggers of a population segment. The imperative here is to focus on what the audience needs—not what a business or brand wants to say.

2. Clearly defined positioning

Whether a business has defined its positioning or not, every brand has one. Three department stores provide a clear way to view positioning—think about the differences between Walmart, Target and Nordstrom. Each occupies a unique position in the market, and, more importantly, our expectation of the experience we will have in those stores.

It is more challenging in B2B marketing, but characteristics like speed, scale, reliability and customer experience all contribute.  Positioning is what you are and what people believe you are. In technology, the classic comparison of Salesforce to Oracle is an iconic example. Salesforce positioned itself as the antidote to software as it brought predictable pricing and short-circuited premise software implementations.

[RELATED: Learn how benchmarking can guide your PR efforts to resounding success.]

3. Messaging

Messaging is the intersection of audience identification and positioning. PR needs messages to do one important thing: Resonate. The path to finding messages that resonate begins with answering these questions:

  • What do people think about your business or brand today?
  • What do you want people to think?
  • What messages can you send that facilitate how you want to be perceived?

4. Message distribution

Message distribution is medium of conveyance—it’s how you get a message to an identified audience. It used to be we had three choices:

  • Rent a medium with advertising
  • Earn coverage in a medium by being useful
  • Earn word-of-mouth with guerrilla marketing

Today, we have both more options within those traditional choices and more options in general. The lower costs of publishing means that we can build our own medium. That is the essence of content marketing, and why PR and content marketing work best when working together.

5. Feedback and measurement

After the first four steps of these PR fundamentals, evaluation is required.

Traditionally, it was challenging to link a message to an outcome, but that has changed considerably as information became digitalized. Now we can measure such factors as web traffic acquisition and behavior with accuracy.

That feedback loop happens at far greater speeds today—you can put a message in the market and understand pretty quickly if it’s resonating. Indeed, for many in PR, that’s a big part of the reason why two feels like the new five.

Frank Strong is founder of Sword and the Script Media. A version of this post first appeared on Sword and the Script.



5 essential elements of an effective Social Media & PR plan


5 essential elements of an effective Social Media & PR plan

By Marjorie Comer | Posted: November 2, 2018

If you’re new to using public relations to build your brand, starting a PR program can seem daunting.

Your public relations firm and your team should use a PR plan as a roadmap to create a successful PR program. Without one, it’s difficult to evaluate the program’s success and ensure that your company and PR partner are on the same page.

[RELATED: Enter your work—or nominate a colleague—for our 2018 ACE Awards.]

Here are five key elements of a PR plan and the questions to ask your partner before finalizing it:

1. Research/situation analysis

You’ll identify your situation and the requisite research in the early weeks of a PR program, often during the meetings prior to signing your business agreement. Once you sign, your PR firm should begin initial research. (If your budget allows, you might hire an outside research firm.)

Include primary and secondary, formal and and informal research. Without exception, your PR firm should read and audit news articles and studies about your company, industry and competition.

  • What is the current situation or issue?
  • What is the current baseline?
  • What are your company’s goals, and how might PR align with them?

2. Objectives

Each PR plan should include one to five objectives, which should emerge from and align with your company’s overall goals. (Goals and objectives are distinct terms in this application.) Consider using S.M.A.R.T. objectives:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable or achievable
R = Results-oriented or relevant
T = Timely

Then ask these questions:

  • How well do the objectives address the stated problem or issues?
  • How clear are the specific objectives?
  • Is each objective S.M.A.R.T?
  • If you accomplish the objectives, will you be satisfied with your PR investment?

3. Implementation

The implementation stage is where strategies, tactics and activities come into play.

  • Do those elements address the objectives?
  • How will each strategy uniquely reach and engage the target audiences?
  • How might you expand and innovate those tactics and activities?

4. Evaluation

Don’t leave the evaluation of a PR plan until year-end or the conclusion of your campaign. Your PR firm should assess it with you on a regular basis, perhaps quarterly, to ensure it’s on track.

You might decide an objective is no longer a priority or that the firm has reached or exceeded it, and then you would shift your focus. Set evaluation rhythms before approving your PR plan.

These questions are key:

  • What does success look like? Did you reach the objective or resolve the issue?
  • How will you know if your PR firm meets objectives?
  • How will the firm document and demonstrate results?

5. Investment

Your investment supports accomplishing the objectives, and it helps you and your PR firm to know what you can and cannot accomplish in a given campaign. Too often, items not included in the investment can sidetrack companies, which muddles the focus and effectiveness of the agreed-upon campaign.

  • Is the budget documented?
  • How, specifically, will you use the money?

Make sure your company’s PR plan is flexible, so you can adjust it for unexpected occurrences, such as reaching an objective earlier than expected, learning that an objective is no longer important, or finding you want to measure something else.

Active participation in drafting your company’s PR plan helps you achieve your business objectives and maximize your company’s performance. Having a PR plan in place—and sticking to it—will help you get the most from your investment.

A version of this post first appeared on the Axia Public Relations blog.