Effective public relations is both an art and a science. It’s a combination of understanding your audience, the proper execution of a carefully designed plan, and the ability to adjust your message and approach on the fly as needed. Most of this work is done before the campaign is launched.
Too often, though, people and brands try to react to a situation, rather than planning for and responding to likely scenarios. Worse, people sometimes base their campaign narratives on assumptions or traditions, when the plain fact is “what always worked” may not work anymore. To avoid finding your campaign falling into these traps, here’s a pre-launch checklist for your next PR campaign.
Define Your Purpose
“Why” you’re communicating is as least as important as what you are saying? Will your message create a new narrative, augment an existing narrative, or contradict something that’s come before? How will it be perceived? Do the answers to these questions match your reasons for communicating that message?
Articulate Your Goals
What do you want this specific message or campaign to accomplish? There should be two connected but distinct answers to these questions. A single message should not attempt to accomplish everything that could be accomplished by a well-orchestrated campaign. The action step here is to set both incremental and ultimate goals. Then establish metrics to measure the success of both the steps and the end result.
Understand Your Audience
Defining and understanding your audience is about more than demographics. Sure, that’s important, but things like income, gender, and age are basics. Today’s messaging can be targeted much more specifically, and you should use this to your advantage. Beyond knowing who you’re talking to, you need to research that audience to determine both what they want and how they talk about what they want. The lesson here is that there are two steps to presentation: the right solution and the best delivery system.
Determine the Most Effective Methods
Speaking of the delivery system, the platform you choose for your message goes a long way toward determining the success of that message. If your target demographic doesn’t use Facebook or watch the evening news, it’s going to be less-effective to use those channels. However, if your target market frequently uses those information sources, it would be foolish to ignore them.
Craft an Attention-Grabbing Headline
For many people, information today is a constant torrent of ‘too much’ and ‘too often’. If you want to engage with your audience you must grab their attention and hold it long enough for them to stop scrolling, stop looking around, and stop thinking of the endless things they have to do. An emotionally-connective, attention-grabbing headline can do that. Then, once you have them paying attention, reward that attention with a message they will appreciate.
Plan Your Distribution
For many, sending your message to “more” people feels better than “less” people. Hence all the mass emails about things most people couldn’t care less about. In truth, the average consumer views mass emails as a plague of spam cluttering up their newsfeed or email inbox. Don’t be counted among those who annoy rather than connect. Instead, seek out communication channels that connect directly with your chosen audience.
Of course, “who” and “where” are only two factors of wise distribution. You also need to consider “when”. Your target audience has tendencies, times and days they connect with their chosen media. Plan your distribution based on these factors and your chance of connection is increased.
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