Those who work on PR campaigns are like firefighters. They have to put out a fire as soon as it starts. otherwise it might be too late.

The move from in-person to virtual events and fake news have all become a daily occurrence for PR people. They have to be prepared for any possible scenario and constantly keep their fingers on the pulse. Yet, thankfully, there are ways to minimize the risks of things going wrong.

Let us guide you through building an effective PR campaign to increase the chances of its success. Here’s a checklist with the precise steps you should take before, during, and after the launch of a campaign.

An effective PR campaign can have a remarkable impact on your brand’s reputation – let’s make sure it’ll be positive.

What is a PR campaign?

The term Public Relations has evolved over the years. Initially, it was related to the management of an organization, and over time it came to refer to communication as well.

In general, Public Relations (PR) are all the activities a brand takes to create and maintain positive relationships between the organization and its environment.

Effective public relations is a challenge. It requires long-term planning and the ability to react appropriately to ad-hoc crises. In addition, it involves devising a strategy as well as coordinating it. Not only are the quality and type of these activities important, but even their order. To help you create and manage a PR campaign in the best way, we have prepared a checklist you should follow to make it a success. 

Step 1 – Determine your PR campaign goals, KPIs, and channels 

Goals

What do you want to achieve? Do you want to find a new audience? Are you trying to build a relationship with your customers or improve the ones you already have? Get a sense of your goals by looking at the big picture.

Tip! If the objectives of your PR campaign are achievable and realistic within a given timeframe, the chances of actually achieving them will be much higher. The more specific and concrete the goal, the more easily it can be controlled.

KPIs

Once you determine the goals, it’s time to think about KPIs. It is also essential to choose them according to your goals. Here are the most standard metrics that you should use to determine PR campaign performance:

  • Social media reach and engagement: You can measure PR campaign success by analyzing the number of new followers after launching an average post reach. The number of likes, comments, and shares helps you measure engagement.
  • Web traffic: Measuring the traffic on your website before and after a campaign can also help assess whether the PR campaign is successful.
  • Brand mentions and their sentiment: The earned media metric shows any time when your brand is mentioned on the Internet. To have better insights into them, you should also analyze the sentiment of mentions to see whether they are positive, neutral, or negative.

Tip! Gathering this data manually can be exhausting and time-consuming. Using social media monitoring tools will make this process simpler and help you better control mentions. All you have to do is set the right keywords to start to obtain results and see the sentiment of particular mentions.

  • SOV (share of voice): It is the best KPI to compare your brand with the competition. It measures how visible your brand is and how much you dominate the conversation. It’s a key indicator for measuring media presence or the strength of a particular media mention.

Channels

This step ends with choosing channels. Do you want to engage influencers, make a Press Release, or organize an event? Your target audience’s preferences should be a key factor in your choice. We can distinguish two groups of channels – traditional and digital. Bet on a multi-channel strategy to reach as many people as possible. 

digital channels and traditional channels that can be used in a pr campaign

Tip! With Mediatoolkit, you will be able to discover which channels your audience prefers. This way, you can save money by testing different channels and focusing your efforts on the most successful ones.

Step 2 – Find your ideal target audience

A vital part of PR is choosing who you will reach out to with your message. In this way, you will be able to target your efforts for maximum results. 

A target audience is a group of people who are interested in your product or service. Don’t look at them just as a whole. Create individual personas, since each one requires a different approach. 

If you target everyone, then you don’t target anyone.

From a PR point of view, the more personas you have, the more specialized your communications can be. How to define your “perfect” customer? You need to establish the following details:

  • Demographics (e.g. age, gender, location, education, marital status)
  • Psychographics (e.g. interests)
  • Influences and information sources
  • Pain points and challenges
  • Purchasing process

When you define your target audience with personas, you can easily reach people who are most likely to respond positively to your message. You will be able to make a far greater impact if your PR team can understand who your prospects are and what they are going through so they can tailor their activities to that group.

Get inspired:

You can use these results even further. An example of a company that creatively uses audience research in their latest PR campaign is First Direct. They identify six distinctive Money Types of people who save, spend, and manage their wealth in different ways and make use of them by creating a quiz.

first direct's pr campaign showing a screenshot of six money types
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This makes it easy for people to identify with one of these types and understand the motivations that push them to make decisions about money. The vital goal of this PR campaign is to help improve the nation’s financial wellness and make people feel more confident with money. It’s an example of a well-planned multi-channel campaign which, in addition to the quiz, includes website content, an influencer campaign, and podcasts.

Step 3 – Perform market and competitor research

Carrying out market research with surveys and interviews can cost you a lot of money and effort. Still, this information helps you to understand your competitors and your brand’s position on the market, and it can help create PR campaigns. If you are on a tight budget and have limited time, there is another option as well – you can use a media monitoring tool. 

With this approach, you get honest, real-time information about your customers’ opinions and preferences. It’ll be much easier to control what is happening in the media and what emotions your brand evokes.

Whether you choose to gather data manually or automate this process, you need to know what you should pay particular attention to during market research. 

  • Competitors: You should know how people rate you against competitors. Competitive analysis helps you identify the leading market players and determine what PR strategies they use. Identify them and prepare a SWOT analysis that will help you visualize your position.

Tip! You should also analyze VOC (voice of customers) data. With Mediatoolkit, you can create a comprehensive analysis of your competitors in a matter of minutes. You will be able to compare the number of mentions, the SOV, and sentiment, etc. Try it out now!

  • Trends: You should constantly check PR trends and be aware of what is happening around you. This research can provide valuable insight into gaps in the market and inform you of upcoming opportunities. Also, you will be able to spot market risks and issues that will help guide your future decisions.
  • Influencers: If you want to use influencer marketing in your campaign, you should carry out thorough research about the influencers you want to work with. Don’t just look at their numbers of followers – try to match influencers to your target audience and your brand identity. Bet on well-followed individuals who are consistent with your brand image.

Tip! Mediatoolkit’s social media monitoring tool offers a top influencer list sorted by reach, source, and number of mentions. Thanks to it, you’ll be sure that the chosen influencers will have a positive impact on your PR campaign. 

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Step 4 – Execute your PR campaign

You’ve done it! Your PR campaign is ready to go live. Yet, there is still one more step you need to take before you publish the campaign. Check that everything is on-brand and all the details are correct. If you need to make any changes, now is the time to do it.

You should be prepared for things to get out of control, so give yourself some breathing space. However, if you don’t feel comfortable then don’t be afraid to ask for help. Consult the campaign plan with a PR pro to get some tips and advice. 

After launching the campaign, focus on three main aspects: listening, understanding, and responding. Direct communication with your customers will give you a better understanding of what people care about and what engages and interests them most. People want to feel taken care of, so personalize business interactions. Respond to their suggestions, questions, and compliments. Engage them in your campaign.

Step 5 – Analyze the results, rinse and repeat

Once everything is in place, your PR campaign can begin. Analyze the results and take appropriate actions. To track your progress towards meeting the set goals, keep doing so constantly. Measure KPIs that you set at the beginning, and don’t forget about analyzing your website traffic and mentions – it can also show you whether or not the campaign had a positive impact on your audience. 

Taking a look at the results gives you insight into further campaign ideas and allows you to figure out if the original plan still needs to be modified. The key to effective PR campaigns is analyzing repeatedly and reacting quickly if things don’t go your way.

Examples of great PR campaigns 

Now that you understand all of the steps to planning an effective PR campaign, start looking for inspiration from companies that have already done it well. We want to illustrate some PR campaigns that have stood out for us.

#Brewdog

Brewdog is a brand that knows how to create good PR. Recently they made a buzz in the media by offering up empty bars as vaccination spaces. In April, they lent their distilleries to create hand sanitizer for healthcare workers. Well done!

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#IKEA

At the beginning of 2021, IKEA kicked off a campaign that tackled reducing its environmental impact while maintaining low prices. Contrasting everyday life clips and littered space emphasizes just how little changes can have a huge overall impact on the environment. Effective and positive.

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#TESCO

Tesco has released (some of the first) plasters that are available in a broader range of skin tones. Simple but effective.

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To see more examples of PR campaigns from 2020 that were successful, check out our post devoted entirely to them.

Wrapping up on PR campaigns

Designing an effective PR campaign is challenging. Despite your best efforts, there may always be some unexpected difficulties. However, by following all of these steps, you can mitigate the risks and turn downfalls into success. 

Consider every possible outcome, analyze the data, and keep updating them constantly. Each PR campaign will give you a better understanding of your audience and allow you to make better decisions in the future. It’s time for your brand to shine!


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