How to create a PR strategy that actually works?
When putting together a PR strategy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
In an attempt to cover all possible bases, you might risk adding too many bells and whistles — while failing to add the essential parts.
The good news: You just need to get the basics right.
And this blog post can help you.
Here we go:
- What Is a PR Strategy and Why Do You Need One?
- The Cost of a Poor PR Strategy
- The Most Common PR Strategy Mistake
- How To Create a PR Strategy That Takes the Cake
- Tips for Developing and Implementing an Effective PR Strategy
- How to Evaluate and Adjust Your PR Strategy Over Time
- PR Resource: More PR Strategies
What Is a PR Strategy and Why Do You Need One?
A PR strategy is a guiding principle helping your organisation establish and maintain relations with stakeholders, influencers, and publics.
In concrete terms: A PR strategy (also commonly referred to as a communications strategy) is a document or presentation outlining how your organisation is supposed to win three crucial PR assets in today’s competitive landscape:
Attention, trust, and loyalty are the building blocks of those relationships the organisation needs to sustain itself.
The Cost of a Poor PR Strategy
A poor PR strategy will cost you:
Everything you do or say as an organisation will add or subtract from those willing to listen, read, or view.
Everything you don’t do or say as an organisation will add or subtract from those willing to listen, read, or view.
Whether or not your organisation is actively working with PR, every interaction and non-interaction will add to (or detract from) your brand’s attention‑, trust- and loyalty capital.
Some PR professionals subscribe to the idea that PR activities can be translated into ROI. I think it’s an admirable ambition, but when push comes to shove, the actual cost of having poor public relations is dwindling chances of survival:
Not even the greatest empires can last forever with a poor PR strategy. Over time, deteriorating relationships with stakeholders, influencers, and publics will pile up and bring even the mightiest of powers down.
The Most Common PR Strategy Mistake
A PR strategy is basically “a document or presentation.”
As such, it mustn’t be short. You can add bells and whistles to your PR strategy; perhaps you wish to include a long section describing research on your stakeholders, influencers, and publics. Perhaps you wish to include a long section describing each prioritised media channel.
That’s fine. But a word to the wise:
Poor PR strategies typically lack substance and clarity. Few notice this absence because all those “bells and whistles” seem impressive and well-documented.
Bells and whistles can be valuable in their own right. But always make sure you get the basic PR strategy down first:
How To Identify a Good PR Strategy
Your PR strategy should answer one simple question:
If your PR strategy fails to answer this question, it’s just ornamentation (i.e. corporate cringe).
Learn more: Your Bullshit PR Strategy is Cringe, Sorry
How To Create a PR Strategy That Takes the Cake
A successful PR strategy should have three essential components: analysis, guiding principle, and coherent actions:
How to Write a 1‑Page Strategy
Here’s how you can write a 1‑page strategy that fits one page — using the mythical battle between David and Goliath as an analogy:
2. Guiding Principle
3. Coherent Actions
If you write 1 – 2 clear sentences per bullet, your strategy should fit nicely on one page.
Tips for Developing and Implementing an Effective PR Strategy
A helpful approach to formulate a robust PR strategy is to identify a stupid majority and a smart minority:
PR Strategy: The Stupid Majority
From what conversion theory tells us, minorities tend to hold their opinions more firmly. This is reasonable since going against the majority comes at a higher social cost.
But some minorities have an additional advantage:
Some minorities of today are the start of the new majorities of tomorrow (smart minorities).
In contrast, some majorities have an additional disadvantage:
Some majorities of today will be gone entirely tomorrow (stupid majorities).
Examples of Stupid Majorities
Stupid majorities are to be found everywhere:
“Riding a skateboard isn’t a real sport!”
(Stupid majority vs Red Bull)
“Computing is about bits and bytes, not design!”
(Stupid majority vs Apple)
“Websites and apps can’t produce movies and television shows!”
(Stupid majority vs Netflix)
“Electric cars can’t compete with gas cars!”
(Stupid majority vs Tesla Motors)
“Hotels must have hotel rooms!”
(Stupid majority vs AirBnB)
“Taxi companies must have taxis!”
(Stupid majority vs Uber)
“Media companies must produce media!”
(Stupid majority vs Facebook)
Identifying a stupid majority (and siding with a smart minority) will clarify your core message and attract highly engaged minority supporters.
Since time’s by your side (the stupid majority will be gone no matter what), targeting a stupid majority might become your career’s most influential PR strategy.
How to Evaluate and Adjust Your PR Strategy Over Time
It takes time for a new PR strategy to propagate through your ecosystem of stakeholders, influencers, and publics.
Relationships are built on loyalty, loyalty is built on trust, and trust is built on attention. It takes time.
Therefore, you shouldn’t strive to change your PR strategy for the sake of change itself. Only change your PR strategy if you’re sure it isn’t working.
How do you know the difference?
Apart from the apparent lack of good results, I find it helpful to map out several competitors and summarise their PR efforts as 1‑page strategies. This exercise often demonstrates who wins and loses the war for attention, trust, and loyalty — right now.