For your company to succeed, you need to make sure you have a PR campaign that is integrated with the rest of your brand. Read on to learn how to build a balanced and impactful integrated PR campaign.
Ironically, the field of public relations has its own PR problems. The common stereotype around the industry is one of the spin doctors and publicity stunts. But in reality, public relations has a much wider scope, and a vital part to play in any organization. In this article, we’ll teach you what public relations is all about, and the basics of how to run your own PR campaign.
What is Public Relations?
Before we can define public relations, we must first explain what public relations is not. Although often used interchangeably, public relations is not publicity. By definition, public relations involves organizations, while publicity focuses on individuals. The next time you see a celebrity pull a “PR stunt,” a publicist would be involved, not a PR pro. Public relations is also not about lying or hiding the truth. In its code of ethics, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) emphasizes the importance of truth and honesty in communications. So what, then, is public relations? The PRSA defines public relations as: “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
In many ways, public relations is like an amplified form of marketing. While marketing deals with communicating to consumers, PR communicates with all audiences, called “publics.” Publics can include the media, employees, investors, donors, the government, other companies, and their local community as a whole. Consumers are also a public — meaning that in many ways marketing is actually a branch of public relations. The goal of public relations, then, is for an organization to build relationships with their publics. You can see where they get the name!
What is a PR Campaign?
Apart from routine day-to-day public relations tasks, such as managing social media or monitoring the news, an organization may choose to run a strategic PR campaign. These campaigns have a specific goal. Sometimes those goals are something simple like promoting a special event. Other goals might be more serious such as reputation management following a crisis.
In all cases, the ultimate goal of any public relations campaign is to benefit an organization by maintaining and nurturing the relationships they have with a given group. In an integrated public relations campaign, an organization will use a variety of different channels and tactics to communicate their message. Each piece of messaging must coordinate to reinforce each other. In addition, all parts of an organization – from the owners and executives to the front-of-house employees – must be in sync with the campaign.
The ROPES Model
Although each organization and PR agency has their own way of running a campaign, most follow a variation of the ROPES Model. The ROPES Model has five steps:
By following each step in the ROPES model, you’re setting yourself up for a focused, effective, and successful campaign. Here’s an in-depth look at these steps.
Before actually taking public action, any campaign must first start with research and planning. PR pros must do research about their audience and their intended goal to ensure the actions they take are effective and have a good ROI. For example, you could run a campaign centered around Facebook. But if your target audience doesn’t use Facebook, you’ve wasted a lot of time and money on something that had no effect. Preliminary research could have shown that Facebook wasn’t popular among your target, and you could have chosen a better channel.
The most common forms of primary PR research are surveys and focus groups. Past case studies or other secondary research can also help in the planning process.
A campaign without objectives to guide the process will be aimless and unfocused. These objectives should be very specific by including a measurable metric, a single target public, and a timeframe. For example, “increase brand awareness among potential investors by 15% by December 31, 2019” would be a better objective than a generic “increase brand awareness.” Your surveys and other research should help you set the baseline numbers that you frame your objectives around.
This is the fun part of any campaign — actually taking public action. Using your research as inspiration and your objectives as a focus, develop your message and come up with different tactics that will communicate it to your intended targets.Programming tactics can include things like press releases, social media postings, newsletters, special events, advertising, and any other ideas you can come up with. Be creative, but also keep in mind what your research says will be most effective.
Throughout your campaign, you should constantly be evaluating the progress your campaign is making toward its goal. By evaluating mid-campaign, you can discover any tactics that might be ineffective and make a correction. Likewise, if a particular tactic is more impactful than expected, you can funnel more resources into it. The most important evaluation comes at the end of the campaign. What were the results of your work? Did you accomplish your objectives? Often, evaluation involves re-doing the research you did in the first step. For example, you would take both a pre- and post-campaign survey about brand awareness and compare the changes.
Even after the campaign’s programming and evaluation is over, the work of a PR team is not finished. Stewardship is an essential final step in the campaign, emphasizing the ongoing management of goodwill through social responsibility. An example of stewardship would be sending a thank-you email to somebody who attended an event. Another would be reporting back to a donor about how their donation made a positive impact. The goal of stewardship is to ensure the relationships you built through the campaign remain strong long after the campaign has ended.
Start Your Own Public Relations Campaign
Whether you want to promote a product, repair a damaged image, or simply let more people know about your brand, a PR campaign would be valuable for your organization. If your organization doesn’t have its own public relations staff, hiring an agency is a great alternative. Check out these important things to know when hiring a PR agency.