Your business has a message, one that you are eager to get out. That message should be disseminated through a public relations plan designed to help you find new customers and increase your sales. Public relations must go beyond media attention and should yield the right benefits to justify the plan. You can create a public relations plan that represents your business’ interests.
Establish your goals. What do you want to get out of your public relations plan? The vague goal does not work here – it must be big on specifics such as boosting your sales by a certain percentage and a resultant impact on your profits. Making your business known is one thing, but meeting your objectives is the ultimate goal.
Know your demographics. Who do you want to reach? Your public relations plan has a target and that target must be clearly identified. Beyond media folk, it can include reaching your current customers, future customers, suppliers and vendors, community members and any other group of individuals of interest to you.
Make a plan. Your public relations plan must include strategies for getting to your goal. For instance, if your business plan involves rolling out a new product line, then that information must be conveyed to media who will help announce your plan. Typically, you will invite media members to review your product in hopes that they will write about it. You are more likely to have a story told if there is a community benefit. You might sponsor an open house for your customers and invite prospective customers through a direct mail campaign.
Make your announcements. Your public relations plan will allow you to make announcements related to your business initiative. You can send out different types of announcements to target your various demographics. For instance, your current customers may be interested in learning about the latest version of your product, while prospective customers may need to be persuaded to make a switch from their current retailer to your business.
Invest in your plan. No public relations plan can succeed apart from a financial investment. You need to know what your costs will be and budget accordingly. For instance, if media will be attending your event — including individuals who are not in your general area — you will need to pay for their transportation, hotel and related expenses. If you are reaching your current customers through an open house, you will need to budget for catering and related entertainment expenses.
Work toward your goal. Weeks, if not months before you make your announcement, you will need to have enough time to carry out your plan. There will be certain benchmarks to meet along the way, otherwise you risk not being able to pull off your event at the scheduled time. Assemble a team of people who are responsible and accountable to handle a variety of tasks. Ultimately, there must be a point person who will oversee everything to ensure that the plan is executed as desired. A backup plan may also be necessary if an emergency arises.
Tweak as you go. Although you want a public relations plan that is executed according to your wishes, you should also have room to adjust the plan as needed. For instance, you may learn that a competitor is coming out with a similar product at the same time. In that event you may want to move up your product introduction, while keeping the media gathering date the same.
Document everything. Your very first public relations plan will provide an excellent framework for future events. After the initial plan has been executed, assemble your team for a postmortem. Determine as soon as possible what changes to make the next time you have a plan in mind.
Public Relations Considerations
With so much information being shared, it is important that you document everything as you go along. At the public relations event itself a photographer and/or a video photographer can help provide documentation. Photographs and videos will provide the resources to help you gauge your public relations strategy.
See Also — Essentials of a Business Action Plan