Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

6 Elements of a Winning PR Plan

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Are you gearing up for a product launch or mapping out all of your promotional activities for the year? Whether your upcoming initiative is an annual marketing strategy or a week-long event, it’s a good idea to get all of your plans and ideas organized in one place.

And while that organizing can take on a variety of forms, most PR pros rely on the holy grail of roadmaps: the media plan.

In a nutshell, media plans are the who, what, when, why, and how behind a promotional campaign. And we’ll dig in and show you the six most important elements every plan should include to ensure that your campaign is set up for success.

1. SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. While SWOT analyses are usually used to gauge the benefits (or lack thereof) of projects or business ventures, they’re also hugely effective in media plans.

Why? Two reasons. One: They force you to explore the opportunities that exist for your brand or product. When drafting this section, think big. What opportunities exist locally? Regionally? Nationally? Internationally? Within and outside of your industry? What opportunities do you have to overtake your competitors? For example, if you’re a fashion company, your list might include “the opportunity to be the go-to brand for eco-friendly accessories in the U.S.” or “the opportunity to overtake our closest competitor with our new line of mineral makeup.”

The second reason SWOT analyses should be incorporated into your media plan is because they make you face your weaknesses and threats from the outset. Whether you’re dealing with stiff local competition or a potential product shortage, you’ll be able to address and plan for those challenges throughout the strategies and tactics outlined in your media plan.

2. Objectives

This next section is where you’ll describe, in detail, what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re building your yearly media plan, you should include your overarching PR objectives, like “increase national awareness of our products among our target audience of professional 20-something women.” If you’re building a media plan around a campaign, you’d likely want to narrow your objectives to something more specific, like “introduce our product to the London market” or “increase our user base on college campuses.”


3. Strategy

Now that you know what you’re trying to do, how are you going to do it? That's what this section is for. You’ll not only want to describe your overarching strategy, but also detail the specific tactics you’ll use to execute on that strategy—targeted emails, in-person events, hashtag campaigns, and so on. Basically, if a stranger got her hands on your plan, she should know exactly how to execute on your outlined objectives from reading this section. Here, it’s all in the details.

4. Timeline

Now that you know what you want to do and how you want to do it, it’s important to attach a (realistic) timeline to the plan. Work with your team to assign deliverable dates to the strategy and tactics—and encourage one another to stick to it! This way, you won’t end up two weeks behind with two days to go until show time (we’ve all been there!).

5. Messaging

Before you launch a product or begin a promotional campaign, anyone who will be communicating on behalf of your company should know what to say about it. So, create a meaty messaging document that provides specific talking points on all aspects of the launch and your brand, and throw this into the media plan as well. That way, people reading it will not only understand the logistics surrounding the campaign, but also know how it’s being positioned externally.

6. Measuring Success

Finally, think about how will you know if you’ve executed on your plan successfully. Are there certain metrics you want to hit? Media outlets you want to be featured in? An increase in sales within a certain number of months after the campaign? By writing down your definition of success, you can make sure everyone understands and is working toward the same goals. And, once you’ve hit those goals, it’ll incentivize you to reward yourself and the team on a job well done!

Now, if you’re like me, more is better when it comes to planning. In which case, consider supplementing your media plan with additional sections like “Target Audiences,” “Target Markets,” and “Key Themes” (i.e., are there certain stories or trends you’re trying to own, like eco-fashion?). And, before you begin laminating those pages (kidding!), make sure you send the plan around to your team and stakeholders for their input and sign-off. Then, off you go!

Photo of woman working courtesy of Shutterstock.