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5 essentials every PR campaign should have

As communication disciplines converge, those working in public relations are finding that they need to think smarter when it comes to ensuring PR has a place at the top table. Here are my five essentials every PR campaign should have:

1. The big idea

A Holmes report study into creativity in PR, found that 61 per cent of those questioned agreed with the observation that the PR industry lacks big ideas. That was back in 2012 and I think the industry has moved on since then and we are seeing more PR firms like Ketchum winning creative awards.

Every PR campaign needs a big idea – something that is brilliantly simple, yet brave and compelling. Brands like Red Bull (Stratos) and Coca Cola (Share a Coke) get it. Yet, you don’t have to be a huge global brand to have a great idea and some of my favourites are Meantime Brewing’s Hops in a Box idea and Finding Mike for Rethink Mental Illness.

2. Steady and sustained

Ideas that can carry a conversation across various relevant communication channels and keep it going for longer than a day are more engaging and memorable. Plus the communication can evolve and grow so that people make it their own. An example of a sustained work is the Foreign and Commonwealth’s (FCO’s) campaign on ending war rape which started in 2012 and over time has resulted in the UN General Assembly signing a declaration of commitment to end sexual violence in conflict in September 2013 and in June 2014 the FCO chaired a global summit in London #timetoact.  I think that managing campaigns that aim to bring about long term change can be the most challenging for PR people because of the pressure to get results quickly, management teams may change and organisations themselves are constantly evolving.

3. Driven by insight

Organisations have a lot of data that they can work with today. Sadly, many simply use it to evaluate rather than using it to help inform a communications approach. We can learn a lot from how advertising agencies use insight to pinpoint key issues that really it the mark and PR managers can do this too because much of this data is now within their grasp. It just needs to be interpreted.
Good examples can be found Gnome Experiment and the BUND ‘Tree concert

4. Journey planner

Every PR activity should contribute to clear outcomes and it helps to know where you are starting from in terms of getting there. For example, does the PR need to do a lot of work creating awareness in order to drive action. Or, does it need to overcome barriers or perceptions to get people interested and engaged so that they become more supportive? Asking these questions at the outset can help ensure that a campaign is realistic and achievable.

5. Real time and mobile

In theory, planned communications campaigns are great. They focus effort and take the audience or consumer on a journey, but that journey can operate too much on a company based timeline, with some social media or real time engagement bolted on.  But real time communication is what people are doing – whether we’re communicating in person, on a telephone, smartphone, tablet, PC or even a smartwatch. So the challenge for PR is to build campaigns around how people receive communication from their communities, where they are most receptive to messages and reaching them ‘in their time’, not an organisation’s Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm working week.

I hope that this check list helps next time you have to create a PR campaign.

Here are other tips on PR planning and PR strategy and if you’d like to find out more about my Strategic PR Planning course, then do get in touch.

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