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The Public Relations industry is evolving at an increasingly exponential rate. Today’s PR experts use more than conventional press releases and telephone calls to journalists to get their message over, they are incorporating a host of new digital and social media tools that have changed the way people are interacting in society at large. Online networking, blogging and social media sites are a rich source of engagement for the PR professional as they permit organizations to speak to a much bigger audience. And as the opportunity for public relations increases, experts need to adapt and take advantage of these dynamic avenues to reach out to the public in the most effective way.
Public Relations is important for businesses of all shapes and sizes. It is the main tool for enhancing an organization’s profile and speaks to people in a way that advertising can’t. Harnessing the true advantages of PR means creating an effective and well-planned PR strategy in order to maximize the potential benefits.

When planning PR activity, professionals need to consider the full year ahead. Built into the strategy should be a flagging up of important dates that can be leveraged for your client. If you represent a healthcare organization, highlight the health awareness dates that occur annually. You can then plan to tie-in a client activity that is relevant for the awareness subject well ahead of time. If your client is a financial organization, you should be considering the quarterly reports long before they are due, so that you are on the front foot with initiatives. Ultimately, effective PR is about being proactive, not reactive.

When devising a year-long PR strategy with your client, plan for six months and expect to revise after three. Here are some fundamentals you need to incorporate:

• Define the goals: These should be in line with your client’s overall business, marketing, and sales objectives. Brainstorm with them to find out what they are aiming to achieve with their PR.

• Create a dynamic timeline: A timeline should be based on the company’s objectives, However, these objectives can change, so the timeline needs to be a dynamic one that can adapt to new goals.

• Develop a budget: Depending on the company’s objectives, the plan may require event expenses; such as speaker’s fees, gifts for the media, venue hire… and so on. Establish early on that your client understands that these costs are third party and agree a budget with them.

• Be aware of conflicting dates: An essential part of formulating the timeline should be ensuring that your client activity dates don’t clash with existing events on the calendar. You can’t foresee sudden news occurrences that will pull journalists away, but you should be aware of planned happenings so that you can schedule your initiatives to take place at other times.

• Designate a reliable spokesperson: This should be a client representative who fully understands the company’s objectives and is comfortable conversing with the media. He or she should be media trained and aware of any boundaries when talking about the company.

• Establish a news release calendar: Plan the press releases the company intends to issue throughout the year. The PR professional may need to revise this calendar according to new events and to help the company generate news on an ad hoc basis.

• Maximise your media outreach: Create a strong media list. Review, revise and update it to increase your chances of landing pitches and to ensure maximum reach for your releases on distribution.

Planning your client’s PR strategy comprehensively won’t just help create new ideas and chances for their business to shine; it can provide them with the often overlooked benefit of peace of mind – they will know that publicity for their operations is covered. It also enhances their objectives. While PR plans are always subject to change, planning ahead will enable your client to stick to their overall set goals and maintain their operational focus.