PR Goals, Tactics, and Strategies: A Comprehensive Guide
Goals and tactics and strategies–oh my! In order for any public relations program to be successful and drive business results for a company, all of these pieces need to thoughtfully intertwine. But, setting PR goals, aligning tactics and developing strategies is an extensive process, and can even sound a bit intimidating. How do you set PR goals? How do you decide what tactics should be a part of your PR program? How do you know your PR goals are successful?
We’ve developed a guide to take you through every step.
PR Goals: Setting the Destination
When most people think about PR goals, they think about media coverage. And, what company doesn’t want media coverage?
But PR goals need to be more than just a number of media hits. They need to align with a company’s business goals–like growth plans, revenue goals and exit strategies.
Your PR program will, of course, result in media hits–but when PR goals and business goals align these media hits will be more than quantitative. They’ll be stories that tell the messages you want out in the market and those that are precisely relevant to the audiences you want to reach. This is where you’ll see your PR program drive the needle for your business.
What are PR Goals?
PR goals are specific objectives that a company aims to achieve through public relations efforts. These goals are designed to drive visibility, enhance reputation, improve communication with the industry and key stakeholders, and support overall business objectives. PR goals are curated specifically to an organization based on their business goals, but a few PR goals include:
- Build Overall Brand Awareness: Many companies look to PR to increase the visibility of their brand, products, or services. This typically happens when a company is newly launching or has a new product/service. PR efforts can grow the familiarity of a brand among consumers and key audiences so they begin to recognize the brand and the products and/or services they offer–and continue to think about them
- Be Known in the Market as ____: Companies have a vision for how they want to be seen in the market. For example, they want to be known as innovators or the leader in their industry. How companies want to be seen in the market will typically change as their business changes–and PR can shift along with it.
- Grow Recognition in a Specific Geographic Market or Industry: Companies regularly enter new geographic markets and industries–and look to PR to drive visibility where they haven’t had it before. Through PR, companies can drive awareness in these new spaces–and drive new business as a result.
- Enhance Reputation: Beyond building awareness and shifting how a company is seen in the market, PR can also improve an organization’s reputation. This is typically a goal when companies are working through a larger crisis and want to address negativity in the market.
- Expand Executive Visibility: Executives are the face of the company–and many companies want to hyperfocus their brand around specific executives. PR can amplify the unique expertise and opinions of C-Suite executives and other leaders to boost their visibility–and the company’s–in the market.
How to Set PR Goals?
In order to set PR goals, it’s important that you first answer fundamental questions about your business like:
- What are your growth plans?
- What are your revenue goals?
- Who do you want to be speaking to? (type of industry, company, role, etc.)
- Do you have an exit strategy that you’re working toward?
While these bigger, more anecdotal business goals can feel nebulous at first, they can easily be broken down into more tangible and trackable PR goals.
PR goals will go beyond securing a specific amount of press hits, and align directly with where your business wants to go. For example, if you’re looking to enter the retail industry, a PR goal might include a number of media placements in a retail publication. Or, if you’re looking to up your CEO’s visibility among investors, it might be bylined articles in tech and business publications.
And PR goals aren’t set in stone–in fact, they shouldn’t be. They should change and evolve as your company and business goals do.
Example of SMART PR Goals:
SMART is an acronym that comprises Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound techniques. Utilizing SMART goals is a method for clearly outlining your PR campaign’s objectives, establishing a means of quantifying your progress, and evaluating your success.
Example of a SMART goal would be:
- Secure 5 pieces of media coverage in retail outlets in a week about a new retail technology
PR Tactics: The Execution Plan
With PR goals in place, the next step is execution. You know your end goal–now how will you get there?
Building a PR plan is like putting together a puzzle. There are many pieces that work together to reach a goal, each with a specific purpose. In PR, those pieces are tactics.
What are PR Tactics?
PR tactics are the activities that a company does in order to reach a PR goal, whether that be building brand awareness, shifting a company narrative or building out executive visibility–or anything else. They represent the execution of a PR program.
If you were to ask what a PR team does on a daily basis, the majority of what they’re working on are these specific PR tactics. This includes everything from writing press releases to securing media interviews to hosting events.
There are a handful of PR tactics that companies can tap into, but it’s not necessary to tap into them all at once–if at all.
How to Develop PR Tactics?
There’s a wide array of PR tactics that teams are regularly working with everyday. It’s like a toolbox: what is the result you want and the tool–or tactic–you need in that moment to get there. There is a science to choosing which PR tactics to use to drive the PR results you want. Here are some of the most common PR tactics
- Press Releases: Whether it’s for a new product, a change in company leadership or a campaign (the list goes on..), press releases are a way to get your carefully crafted news out to the media and key stakeholders at a wider scale.
- Customer Success Stories: Customer success stories are an opportunity to showcase how your company provides value for your customers. These stories come from the POV of the customers themselves and provide much more validation about a company than you can do alone. This includes showcasing a problem that a customer had–and how they were able to solve it by working with your company or using your products/services.
- Byline Articles: These are articles by company executives that put their expertise into an opinion-type article. These articles are typically about a trending topic or something happening in the industry–but they offer thoughts and opinions from an executive that are unique to them and their company.
- 1:1 Interviews: Media interviews are a great way to not only connect media with executives to talk about the company, news, future plans and more, but to build a relationship with a reporter overall.
- Newsjacking: A company won’t always have news to write a press release about or pitch to the media. Finding trending industry and business news topics to latch companies and executives onto to share their unique POV is another way to get them talking in the market.
- Awards: Awards give another piece of validation to a company for a product, an executive or even the workplace. There’s many niche, industry-focused awards as well as larger business awards. These allow the opportunity to show what your team has done and get recognized for it. Award wins can turn into an opportunity for a press release or media pitching.
What is the Relationship between PR Goals, Tactics, & Strategies?
You can’t have one without the other. PR goals, tactics and strategies all work hand in hand as part of your larger PR program. PR goals are what make sure you’re driving forward towards success with your PR tactics and strategies. Any company doing PR needs to make sure that all three are always working together–as well as keeping up with evolving business needs and goals.
PR Strategies: The Big Picture
Think of PR strategies as the big plan that all of your PR work lives together under. While PR goals are what you’re working towards with your tactics, PR strategies are what makes it all make sense together. It’s like the master plan that can help guide decisions and opportunities–all in support of your PR goals.
What are PR Strategies?
A PR strategy is the overarching way in which you’re achieving your PR goals. These strategies loop together all of the PR tactics you’re working under one umbrella. A good PR strategy will help to define the narratives that your company should be putting out into the market through your tactics, to reach your PR goals.
Having a PR strategy in place will not only help to inform the direction of your PR tactics but ensure that they’re all working harmousily together to achieve the intended result.
Types of PR Strategies
There are different kinds of PR strategies that you can tap into as you work towards your PR goals, including:
- Building Momentum: In order to build momentum for a company in any market, you need to consistently be showcasing the company’s value through the lens of new products, customer wins and success stories, and more. Showcase your growth story to industry peers and current prospective customers.
- Ongoing Awareness: The recognition of your brand relies on how often you’re seen in the market–and the strong stories that you’re telling there. Sure, you might not always have news, but you should always be in the media. By driving ongoing awareness, you’re tapping into many PR tactics that consistently get your company (and potentially executives) out into the market.
- Crisis communication: This is a very specific strategy for a very specific time in a company’s life: crisis. With this strategy it’s less about driving momentum or awareness for a brand, and more about safeguarding them. This strategy includes doubling down on very nuanced narratives.
How to Craft Effective Strategies
Crafting the most effective strategy comes down–once again–to your PR goals, which is why it’s so important to really spend time personalizing them to your company and what you want to achieve. Here are a few ways to make sure your PR strategies are driving results.
- Set Clear Objectives: Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives for your PR efforts. And remember, make sure they’re always aligned with your business goals.
- Understand Your Audience: Identify and understand who your target audience is and what they need to hear about your company.
- Select the Right Tactics: There’s a lot of PR tactics, many more effective than others in support of specific goals. Make sure only the tactics that will move the needle for your business are part of your strategy.
- Measure Success: Determine how you’ll measure success, and define key performance indicators (KPIs) for your PR strategy.
- Be Flexible: Your business will inevitably change, and your PR strategy will too. Be prepared to adapt as needed.
PR goals, strategies, and tactics are interconnected elements that function together as part of your PR program. Each part is essential in making sure that your PR program is not only successful, but successful for your specific business goals. It can feel like a lot of work to set goals, develop strategies and drive forward tactics, but each step is key to reaching those bigger goals with PR leading the way.