Plan your work, work your plan! It’s the surest way to publicity success but easier said than done. I’m sure quite a few of you feel like you barely have time to plan let alone do your PR outreach in the first place, and once you begin, you wonder what needs to happen during those planning sessions in order to ensure your public relations work is high impact – without the high workload.
Good news: I’ve got you covered! I made this clear and detailed PR Planning Guide so that you can take a big exhale when it comes to that portion of your publicity work, and make it more clear, goal-oriented, and organized than it’s ever been. THAT, my friends, is how you get consistent publicity without pulling your hair out!
In this packed-with-juicy-content (and no fluff) post, I’ve broken down exactly what you need to do to begin executing effective, strategic, and successful PR work on your own. Simply follow this list of must-dos and before you know it you’ll be on your way to a clear and clean PR plan that feels and is manageable and results-driven!
Want to see press logos on YOUR website for once? Want to stop feeling like you’re behind the eight ball where PR outreach is concerned? This is where that journey begins…
I’VE BROKEN THIS GUIDE INTO TWO PARTS:
- First, I’ve outlined your Big Picture Planning. As you prepare for 2018 publicity success, I want you to start here! Set aside time to spend on steps 1, 2, and 3 and all the other PR action steps you take moving forward will be more successful and high impact.
- Second, I’ve broken down key Monthly Action Steps you’ll want to make time to plan, create, and execute every month. No matter how busy you are, you’ll want to be sure each of these categories is addressed every month.
- BONUS: When you’re done learning how to create a solid and successful PR plan step-by-step via this guide, I’ve created a (FREE) Ultimate PR Swipe File packed with proven story angles you can use to create your actual pitches and build high impact PR strategies. Be sure you grab it here for free when you’re done! Can’t wait to download it? Click here for instant access, and then let’s get back to planning your 2018 PR Success!
Sound good? Okay, let’s get going!
Let’s Get in the Mood…
Before you dive into the day-to-day or week-to-week action steps you’ll want to plan, I want you to step back and think big picture goals and objectives. I often plan a quarter in advance, meaning I know what has to happen each month in a coming quarter before it’s actually here. This gives me plenty of time to then prepare the smaller tasks and steps we’ll be talking about shortly.
This big-picture work is essential, as it ensures you’re sharing your story and your message with your ideal customers and clients, which means you have to be pitching to the best-fits in terms of magazines, websites, TV shows, and newspapers. This all begins right now.
Before you start to stress or worry that this process will be mundane and unpleasant, let me tell you this: it does NOT have to be. I make this part of my public relations work as enjoyable as possible.
How do I do this? I set aside specific time for it so that I don’t feel rushed or distracted. I also make it an “experience”. I’m talking laying out a cozy space to do my work, nice music playing, all the office supplies I need, coffee or tea (sometimes wine – no judgment) and finally, a big stack of magazines and some strong Internet, and I’m ready to go.
Big Picture Planning…
Define Your Audience & Identify Your Ideal Customers:
No matter how amazing your business is, it’s not the perfect product or service for everyone, and you certainly don’t’ have time to waste pitching it to whoever or whatever is in your path. That’s why I like to begin by identifying my ideal customer/s. Sure, there may a few different types of customers, but we need to pinpoint who they are, so we can then – spoiler alert – identify what press they read and watch. You cannot be all things to all people, and when you try to do this, your public relations effort will take up too much time, lose focus, become disorganized, and ultimately, fall flat.
While creating a profile or avatar for your ideal customer, ask yourself questions beyond the usual age/location/income so you can really begin to think about who your ideal customer is. Don’t skip this step – even if you have been in business for years and you think you know the answers already.
The more you dig into this step, the better you’ll be able to identify the best media outlets and social media platforms you’ll need to work with to reach these customers! If you are already able to access some of your current customers, you may want to consider whipping up a quick survey to get to know some of these answers from them!
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you build a customer profile:
- What are some of his/her most common problems and pain points they need to have solved?
- How does he/she consume content? Online? On television? A local newspaper?
- What social media platforms does he/she follow?
- How does he/she shop – online? In brick and mortar stores?
- What types of activities does he/she do for fun?
- What are his/her most read magazines? Do they access them in print or via their iPad/smartphone?
- What blogs and websites do they follow most regularly?
- What television news programs do they watch? What talk shows get their attention?
- What influencers are probably on their radar/Instagram feed?
Of course you cannot spend months conducting intense research around these questions, but by dedicating time and thought to them, you’ll begin to see the beginning of a more strategic PR outreach plan begin to take shape, and you’ll have already started putting more thought into how you’ll be reaching out to the people who matter most to your business!
Plan Your Main Messaging & Talking Points:
Think about what you want the press – as well as the readers, consumers, and viewers of the media – to learn and know about your business. What should talking points about your business, product, or service they take away from your pitches? When someone thinks of your expertise or the products you make, what are some core facts you would like them to know? What talking points they ideally share with other people if they were talking about you? Again, remember you cannot be everything to everyone, and your product/service/expertise cannot either. So try to laser focus on the essential points you want to communicate during your PR campaign.
It’s important not to skip this step because it will guide you as you plan your PR outreach and write your pitches (these points will often pop up in some way in the bullet of your pitch, where the eyes automatically go to learn more about you). In fact, you’ll even refer to these key points when preparing for interviews with the press so that they and you can be sure the audience is learning exactly what it needs to know about your business.
Do Your Media Research:
Research party! Let me first tell you that getting to know the magazines, websites, television shows and newspapers that will help you tell your story and reach your customers via publicity is an ongoing task. It isn’t a once-a-year activity. It’s an ongoing process, but I like to designate specific time periods to this type of work during both my quarterly planning AND during smaller media “study sessions” every month.
Though this is one of the most essential and imperative parts of your PR planning and has a MASSIVE impact on publicity success, it’s the part that small biz owners and entrepreneurs most often admit to me they skip. No surprise, the people who skip the true media research, are often also the ones who tell me they are struggling when it comes to getting press responses and landing publicity. It’s no coincidence!
If you don’t know – and I mean really know – the magazines, websites, and TV shows you want to be featured in, how will you ever create a pitch that “lands”? How will you know what types of content they cover and how they deliver it? How will you begin to figure out WHO to pitch at your press targets?
Without dedicating time to research, you never will! Just one more thing before I get off my research soapbox: Media outlets and the people who work at them are regularly changing, evolving, and shifting in terms of how and what stories they deliver, as well as who delivers them. What I’m getting at is, just because you read a Redbook magazine in the dentist’s office two years ago doesn’t mean you have researched Redbook magazine!
Begin Your Relationship Building & Media Engagement
You may be thinking to yourself, “I’ll begin building relationships with my target media when I actually have something to share with them, but that’s the wrong way to look at this, friends. A PR pro knows that the first time your name pops up on a media target’s radar shouldn’t be when you’re asking for publicity you need right away. The best relationships grow authentically, over time, and your best plan for getting to know the press is to have it be an ongoing process.
As you begin to identify the media outlets you would like to be featured in, which will lead you to the specific people who cover your beat or niche in those outlets, I encourage you to get to know these people. By that I mean, follow them on social media (Instagram, Twitter), and engage with them there. Send them a praise email – which is a relationship growing tactic oh-so-many of my students have used with major success. My point here? Sure, I know you aren’t sure of every media target yet, but as you become aware of them, you must begin engaging with them. Do not wait until the moment you actually need something, but instead treat this like any other human relationship that needs time and nurturing – because it is!
Identify Your Goals, Objectives, and Strategies:
True story: This is often the most confusing part of PR planning for oh-so-many business owners, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s also super-vital to your PR campaign’s success. Without measurable goals, you’re basically spending a lot of energy rowing a boat without any clear destination in sight, and without any clear way of knowing whether or not all that rowing is making an impact.
Here’s a quick way to separate these concepts in your head:
PR GOALS – Your goals are the things you want to accomplish by implementing your publicity plan. What are your personal PR goals? Increase class sales at your yoga studio? Become a well-known and highly visible jewelry brand? Become the most popular coffee shop amongst millennials in your hometown? We must know our goals in order to create objectives and strategies to meet them! For the sake of sanity, try to keep your goal list to three or under – we all know you have a lot more to do during the day beyond publicity work.
PR OBJECTIVES – What needs to happen in order to achieve our goals? Do you need to get local press coverage in our hometown newspaper and television stations? Do you need to land multiple blog posts in top jewelry and fashion blogs? Do you need to get publicity in seasonal gift guides? This section is all about what needs to happen in order to reach your goals.
PR STRATEGIES & ACTION STEPS – All right, friends, now that we know what needs to happen (publicity wise) to reach our goals, you need to identify the strategies and action steps you will execute in order to accomplish these things. For instance, if you want to increase class sales at your yoga studio, and you plan on doing that by landing local press coverage, you’ll now want to develop the strategies and action steps that will help you successfully get that press. These could include pitching local newspapers and TV stations, hosting a yoga event for local wellness influencers, or even weekly Facebook Live Yoga tutorials.
Nor sure where to begin in terms of these strategies and action steps? Not to worry! That’s exactly what we’re talking about in Part Two, below, and you can also find plenty of solid stories and PR strategy inspiration in my free, Ultimate PR Swipe File, filled with steal-worthy story ideas you can begin using right away – and use for life! Get instant access to it here.
Monthly PR Strategies & Action Steps…
If you skipped down to this Actions Steps & Strategy BEFORE you read the above Big Picture Planning steps, I want you to pump your breaks and do just that before moving on. After all, if we don’t have our goals and messaging planned out, all of our action steps will be directionless, and you’ll end up just going in circles and unable to measure the work you’re actually putting in. None of us have time for wasted time, a.k.a. wasted money, am I right?
All caught up? Alright, let’s continue…
Now that you’ve spent time identifying the goals, message, and media targets (? Have we) for your campaign, it’s time to develop strategies that will help you accomplish your goals and objectives. Let me tell you before we begin that there are oh-so-many ways to build your brand through publicity, and as your skill level – as well as the time you have to spend on publicity efforts – expands, so can your action steps and campaigns.
This guide, however, is going to take you through what I believe are the basic must-haves for a starter do-it-yourself campaign plan. These are the areas of outreach I believe are non-negotiable if you want to move from the space of “unknown” or “hidden secret” (two things that aren’t getting you the visibility you need to survive and thrive) to next big thing or household name!
Again, please feel free to think and plan big, get creative, be innovative with your outreach. But while you do it, make sure you include action steps in the following areas:
Short Lead Outreach (Online Press, Television Press, Newspaper, Radio)
When strategizing your monthly public relations action steps, try to plan at least one “short lead” outreach tactic. What I mean by this is, schedule in one pitch or story angle that targets media outlets that are working on stories right now, or in the near future (i.e., they have a very short lead time). The types of outlets in this group include online media and blogs, television news and talk shows, newspapers, and radio.
Not only are these powerful audiences you need to connect to packed with potential customers, social media followers, and more, but the speed at which their stories go live can give you an instant-boost of visibility that you need, without having to wait months for your story to go live. Along with pre-planned stories that are timed to match the season. holidays and calendar in real-time (or the near future) you may also end up adding “short lead” pitches to your outreach when the moment arises should a hot topic or timely issue arise that your business can speak on, add value to, or piggyback onto.
Long Lead Outreach
Speaking of waiting months for a story to go live, your monthly PR action steps and strategies should also include “long lead” outreach tactics. This type of story angle will be pitched to monthly magazines, and are referred to as long lead because of their lead time, which is often three to six months into the future. The more you get to know the media outlets you’re targeting in your campaign, the better you’ll get to know the specific timing and calendar of each, separate magazine.
When planning what pitch you’ll be sending to magazines each month, simply ask yourself, “What issue are they planning right now, that I could be a good fit for/contribute value to?” If you’re reaching out in December/January keep in mind magazines are working on their spring issues, and pitch accordingly. Also remember, because you followed my directions and did your magazine research already, you’ll probably have a pretty good idea as to what parts of the magazines you can contribute to and how they deliver content, so you can match your pitch to their style and voice as you send them a timely angle.
Researching Celebrations, Observances, and Holidays You Can Align With
One way to supplement your long and short lead media ideas and story angles is to include pitches inspired by national (or local) celebrations, observances and holidays. Though not every media outlet will celebrate every holiday, “piggybacking” on these days with your own value-packed story idea, product, or expert tips is a great way to boost your chances of getting publicity. If the media is already planning on talking about a holiday, they’ll need content to do just that, and if you make yours a good fit for their readers or viewers, they may include it.
Some insider insight on this strategy: Beyond the major holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, super-important observances and holidays) most of these types of stories are best pitched to the short lead press. Magazines have limited “real estate” (pages to dedicate to stories, advertisements, you name it). Because of that, pitching them your take or spin on traditional or fun/wacky holidays may not always land. However, the short lead media have new content popping up daily – sometimes hourly – and therefore have much more space for stories like this. In fact, most websites and TV shows enjoy these types of pitches and stories, so be sure you’re including it in your monthly action step plans!
SPOILER ALERT: When you sign up for the free Ultimate PR Swipe File, we’ll also be sending you a handy and easy-to-read list of the year’s must-know holidays, observances and monthly themes. That’s right, we’re doing even MORE thinking for you! Tell us where to send you both the Swipe File and the monthly lists, RIGHT HERE!
Social Media Integration
Public relations is evolving just as the way we deliver our messages and speak with our customers is, and that means that social media is a big part of the work we do to build buzz. Because of this, I like to include a few monthly social media ideas in my planning calendar, to ensure they aren’t overlooked during the day-to-day work I have to do. For instance, if it’s December, I may pencil in a “12 Days of PR Tips” series of Facebook posts in order to offer my followers some timely and valuable content in my feed. In May I may record plans to create a Mother’s Day Pinterest Page or blog post.
Sure, I know that engagement and communication on social media is already part of your ongoing day-to-day work, but as we’re planning, I encourage you to make time to brainstorm calendar-based, timely social media concepts (posters, giveaways, videos, you name it!). Your brain is already in the creating and ideation space, so take advantage of it!
What could this include? Try to begin by making jotting down seasonal social media ideas, promotions, or creating content in places like: InstaStory, Facebook Live, Facebook Posts, Social Media Sales and Promotions, cross-promotions with other brands hosted on social media – just try not to do it all at once, or you’ll end up stressing yourself out and struggling to give each plan enough time and attention.
Local Buzz Building
Everyone loves a hometown hero, and though you may not feel like a small biz superstar when your mired in the day-to-day work it takes to keep your business and your buzz going, I bet that there are stories, tips, and value-filled nuggets of information within your business that your local newspaper or television stations would love to share with their audiences.
Not only is local press a powerful and high impact place to share your business publicity-wise, but it’s also a solid place to practice your PR skills, whether it be honing your interview skills, or getting that first TV appearance under your belt.
The first step to local media success is simply getting to know the media outlets you have to work within your home city and state. These could be newspapers, television news, local and regional magazines, even blogs. Once you’ve got to know the outlets, I want you to study how they tell stories like yours, and as much as possible try to hunt down who tells those stories. With those two key pieces of information, you can begin creating pitches for them that will help put a spotlight on you, a must-know local business or expert.
Need some help planning some stories that are just what local media is looking for? You guessed it! My Ultimate PR Swipe File is filled with them. In fact, I turn to this exact “magical book of PR idea” (one of my nicknames for it) when I’m planning my own local outreach!
Factor in the Follow Up!
As you’re planning all of these action steps, please remember that no pitch is complete without a follow-up! To be sure you don’t forget this, you may want to actually schedule in this type of outreach and email in your PR Planning Calendar. For instance, if you have a pitch planned to go out to monthly magazines in early May, perhaps include a task a that has you create and send a follow-up email within a week of your initial email. Sure, I know that you know how much follow-up matters, but sometimes in the day-to-day hustle it slips our mind. Put it into your monthly action steps, and you won’t miss this necessary step in the publicity process!
Ongoing Media Relationship Building
Oh hey! Look over here! It’s just a quick reminder that as you get deeper and more specific in your planning by creating monthly, weekly – even daily in some cases – PR plans, you’ll want to keep making relationship building and communicating with your press targets an ongoing part of your work. People help people they know, the press is no different. Get to know them, as it will help improve your media outreach AND increase your chances of publicity success!
You Did It! You Made it Through the Planning List! What Happens Next?
Congrats! If you’ve read this guide the right way, you’ve covered each part of our planning and action steps breakdown and you’re ready to begin your research and campaign plan building. As you do that, let me leave you with some parting words:
- Take your time, start small, and know that some planning is better than no planning.
- You don’t have to include every category of outreach in every month’s plan: do what you can within your own business, understanding your own bandwidth.
- Have fun with it! Research and planning can be exciting and powerful – make time in your schedule so that it feels like that, instead of a rushed process that leaves you frazzled.
- Stay empowered and excited, don’t let frustration or analysis paralysis throw off your planning. If you need encouragement, be sure you’re in my Facebook Community or following me on social media, and I’ll be sure I keep you inspired to do the work you need to do to get the publicity you deserve!
- Finally, you know I couldn’t let you head out on the planning journey without one final reminder to you to download my free Ultimate PR Swipe File, because I know that the ideas and story angles it’s packed with will help you during each phase of your PR planning! Download it right here, and use it for years to build stories the press will find simply irresistible!
One last chance! Get your copy of my Ultimate PR Swipe File packed with 35+ ideas the press will LOVE,
by clicking on the image below!