A PR strategy is a key factor in the success of your membership organisation. To be successful you need to have established who your stakeholders are, how you reach them, how you win over new ones and how you keep existing ones happy. On top of this you need to constantly review and analyse what you do to make sure you stay ahead of any competition. An effective PR strategy covers all of these points and is linked to, and complements, your overall business strategy.
Why is a PR strategy beneficial?
As a membership organisation you need to attract and retain members in order to be in the position to effectively represent their interests. A successful PR strategy will move those in your target market further up the tree, preferably to the point where they recommend you to others …
Recommend you to others
Interested in what you offer
Aware of what you do
No idea you exist
The main elements to be included in a PR strategy are:
Desired Result – Why are you conducting a public relations campaign? It could be to increase the number of members, or to generate a certain amount of surplus. It could be to reach a new stakeholder audience, or position a new service.
Unique Selling Points (USPs) – Most products and services have unique selling points – a feature, price or other attribute that makes what you do attractive to members. Once you have established your USP/s your PR strategy will maximise the benefit of it/them to your stakeholders.
Timescale – When creating a PR strategy it is important to set a timescale. Are you embarking on a short-term, medium-term or long-term PR campaign? The objectives you set (with measurable targets) need to be relevant and measurable in the timescale you set.
Stakeholders – You need to establish who you need to reach to make sure you don’t waste time, money and effort reaching people who are not interested or relevant to what you do.
Objectives – Each objective you set needs to be SMART, i.e.
Specific – e.g. win ten new customers
Measurable – place a value to check whether the objective is met
Achievable – if you can’t achieve the objective don’t set it
Realistic – you must have the necessary resources to meet the objective
Timely – set a deadline rather than leave the objective open-ended
Once you have determined why you are conducting a PR campaign (your desired result), why stakeholders will join / use your services (USP/s), how long you want your PR campaign to run for (timescale), who your audience is (stakeholders), and what you want your PR to achieve (objectives), you are nearly ready to write your PR strategy.
You now have the bread for your sandwich, but where’s the meat? The bulk of a PR strategy consists of what you are going to do to reach your stakeholders – the meat in the sandwich.
Public Relations Tools
The meat in your public relations sandwich is the public relations tools you use to get your messages across. There are many tools at your disposal but not all will be relevant so choose those which are most appropriate. The list below is not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination, but it gives you a flavour of the range of activities you can put in place to promote your business:
- Direct Mail – e.g. brochures, flyers, sales letters
- Newsletter – printed or electronic
- Media relations
- Sales Promotion – e.g. special offers
- Promotional Items – giveaways, such as mouse mats, pens
- Promotional Material – brochures, leaflets, flyers
- Events / Exhibitions
Month-by-Month Activity Plan
Once you have decided what tools you need to reach your stakeholders then you need to put a month-by-month plan together. This plan shows what activities you will do, and when, and puts a corresponding cost to each activity allowing you to plan your budget and resources accordingly. This way, you can see what you need to do and when in order to meet your overall desired result.
Top Tips for an Effective PR Strategy
- Set clear, realistic and measurable objectives
- Set deadlines for meeting objectives
- Set a budget for the campaign and schedule activities accordingly
- Ensure one person is responsible for the PR strategy’s execution and delivery
- Regularly review your progress – learn from your achievements and failures and amend accordingly – your strategy shouldn’t be set in stone.
The Alternative …
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to” said the cat.
“I don’t much care where …” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go” said the cat.
If, like Alice in Wonderland, you don’t have a precise idea of which direction you want to take then ad-hoc pieces of PR & marketing will serve you well. If, on the other hand, you have a sound idea of where you want your company to be then a PR strategy will get you there.
It’s your call.