As a public relations professional, media relations must be a critical part of your overall process. Good media coverage can be worth tens of thousands of dollars in advertising, and often much more. However, as with anything in life, it requires a plan. I have found that the following six components make a powerful pr and media relations plan that works every time:
1. Determine Your Overall Objective
What results do you want to see from your story getting in the media? Be as specific as possible.
Without explicit objectives there is no way to evaluate what you have accomplished; and if your target is quantifiable, even better.
For example, if you are planning a fundraiser for a non-profit community outreach organization, your goals for the media coverage might be 500 people in attendance (quantifiable), increased awareness of the organization (not quantifiable), and a 25% increase in donations this year over the previous year (quantifiable).
2. Analyze Your Current Situation
You may know exactly where you want to be, but you can’t map out directions if you don’t know where you are. Using the example above, you might want to gather specific data, such as:
- How many families were helped this year? Since inception?
- What are the programs we currently have up and running and what is the annual budget for these programs?
- What programs would we like to have in place next year and what will they cost?
- What were the total donations this year and how have they changed from year to year since the organization was begun?
- How much of the community and its leader are aware of what we do?
- Who are our current donors?
3. Set Your Media Goal
Now you will want to decide on your media goal. What media are you targeting – local papers, local news stations, online media?
4. Establish Your Target Audience
Who exactly do you want the media coverage to reach? In the example we have been using, that would be both the local community in general and, specifically, the higher income, influential population that would be ideal donors.
If your client is a computer software company that is launching a new application for calculating payroll, your audience would be payroll companies, accounting firms, and human resources/payroll departments.
5. Develop Your Strategy
Now that you have set your goals and established your target audience, how will you accomplish this – call the appropriate reporters and editors, put together and distribute press kits (highly recommended), contact local news stations, etc?
6. What is your key message?
Decide on an angle for your story. Do you want the focus to be the organization itself, with the fundraiser as the “story within the story,” or should the focus be the fundraiser itself and what local celebrities will be attending?
7. Media List
Before you can begin spreading your message, you will need to compile a list of the media to be targeted.
If your audience is local, that will be easy to do.
However, if you are directing your message to a nationwide market, you will need to do a great deal of research. There are several resources that can help, such as www.burrellesluce.com, or your local public library can help. Just walk up to the business reference section and speak to a librarian. They are often very willing to lend a hand or at least point you in the right direction.
So Much More
As you can see, there is so much more to PR and media relations than simply calling a reporter with a story. As with anything else, a clearly thought-out detailed plan will take you far in reaching your objectives.