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Writing a PR plan

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"Public Relations is about reputation; the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you". Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Planned PR is the most effective PR. This guide, aimed at those in the public or not for profit sectors, outlines how you can develop a PR strategy to help you promote a service or facility, launch a new initiative, run a campaign, or put together a programme of ongoing PR activity.

Aims and objectives - Put in place measurable objectives for your strategy or campaign.

This will help you evaluate the success. Your PR objectives should be linked into your operational objectives and organisation's priorities.

So for example

  • Setting up direct contact with 4 potential funders to raising the profile of our education programme in Afghanistan and securing 8 pieces of professional and national media coverage to raise awareness with opinion formers
  • Increasing the number of young people in London using our services by 20%
  • Run an awareness campaign to help generate 500 callers to our helpline, 200 people to register for email briefings, 100 people to become members, 300 people to sign an online petition
  • Generate 1 piece of coverage every month in the local media and 6 a year in professional media to help generate awareness of our services with potential clients, their families and carers.

Audience - Who should you be talking to?

At the very least it should be the people who use your services and the people who influence them. This could include potential and existing funders and commissioners, family and advisers of service users, the media, political and professional stakeholders, pressure and local groups.

Why should people use your services?

What (to use jargon) are your USP's (Unique Selling Points) or points of differentiation? What makes your service or organisation, different or better, than your competitors? Can you provide a quicker service, are you more innovative, or have higher standards, do you have expert knowledge in a particular sector of the market or with a particular type of audience, for example those from BME communities, younger or older people?

What do you want to be saying? Use your organisations positioning and/or mission statement, any 'points of differentiation' plus messages you want to get across about key issues to develop 4 - 6 core messages about your organisation or campaign. Further messages can be developed about specific initiatives but try and keep them to about three.

For example;

  • Parents for Children is the only charity in the UK providing fostering and adoption services for children with disabilities
  • In one of the wealthiest cities in the world; London, 1 in 5 children (in inner London) and 1 in 6 children (in outer London) are living in poverty
  • There are 7000 children in the UK who have fetal alcohol syndrome; a lifelong condition caused by their motherís drinking alcohol whilst pregnant

Looking through your stakeholders eyes

One of the best sources of finding out about yourself are from your service users and stakeholders.  If you are developing a PR strategy for your organisation, try and carry out some research with your stakeholders to help you define and refine your messages, help you understand what appeals and what you could improve and how best to communicate with them.

What communications tools are you currently using?

Are you targeting the right media with the right messages? Do you let them know about what you are doing, about new services, your success stories? Are you making the most of your website and social networking sites? Do you enter awards and speak at key stakeholder conferences?

Putting together a PR strategy

Armed with this information you can put together a plan. This should include an overview of your organisation and/or campaign, your aims and objectives, target audiences and messages and identify a strategic approach.

It should also help you to pinpoint what public relations and marketing activity you can achieve within your resources and budget.

Think about how you are communicating; if someone has low literacy level then using verbal communications or reaching them through their own community group is likely to be more effective than producing reams of promotional literature which they can't read.

If you want to communicate with young people think about social marketing networks, merchandising likely to appeal to them, sms campaigns and peer-to-peer communications.

Resources and budget

What resources do you have in-house to help you?  Do you have a website, regular electronic or printed newsletters? Do you exhibit at conferences? Do you have promotional literature, or an annual report?

If you are running a campaign, can temporary staff be bought in to help, or can you commission external expertise from designers, PR people etc.

What budget do you have for campaign or promotional literature, a launch event, photography, advertising, exhibitions, an e-marketing campaign?

Evaluation

If you can't measure the effectiveness of what you are doing, you shouldn't be doing it! Agree outputs and evaluation mechanisms and then make sure you review how well you are doing on a regular basis. If you find a particular activity is doing well then put more resources into it, if you are not getting the return you want, then you might not want to carry out the activity again.
 


 

Content provided by Helen Ashley, Director of Upward Curve Limited