2016 Public Relations Planning

Public Relations

It’s easy to get swept up on the holidays and busy wrapping up 2015 activities without giving much thought to next year’s PR and marketing strategy. But now is the time to set some goals for the coming year. Here are four strategies for setting effective goals.

1) Align goals with business objectives.

The mistake most organizations make when dreaming up public relations and marketing goals is not aligning them with specific business objectives. Sure, it would be great to increase your social media audience or get covered by the local paper, but how will that serve your company’s larger goal to increase sales by 20 percent?

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2) Understand the function of each channel.

Every activity has its purpose. Earned media can raise brand awareness and position your organization as a thought leader. It will drive traffic to your website or Facebook page, but whatever prospects find when they get there will influence their next step. If they discover well-designed, informational content (your content marketing strategy) or an on-brand, interactive community (your social media strategy), they are more likely to keep moving along through the sales funnel. The goals you set should consider earned media, social media, online media, and digital content.

3) Tie goals to the sales funnel.

Once you have established your PR and marketing goals in each focus area, take a moment to think about how each goal will help move prospects through the sales funnel. Sales people have all different versions of the sales funnel. For this exercise, just consider three stages along a buyer’s journey–attraction, consideration, and decision.

For instance, a person at the top of the funnel will benefit from efforts that cultivate brand awareness, such as social media campaigns and media placements. Those further down will be helped along by relevant messaging and content to bring them closer to a purchase-ready mentality. Think email marketing and specific website content with clear calls to action. Prospects at the bottom are nearly ready to convert. Woo them with personalized emails, discounts/coupons, and strong, sales-actionable content.

4) Think campaigns and tactics.

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Now it’s time to think about the specific tactics that will accomplish your goals. Take your list of goals and add one or two tactics to each. Let’s say your organization’s business objective is to increase sales, and one of your public relations and marketing goals is to generate leads. A tactic might be to create content that a visitor can download from your website in exchange for their email address.

Lead-generation campaigns are focused on getting contact information. Successful ones exchange useful, relevant content for permission to contact a qualified individual. These prospects are at the top of the sales funnel (the attraction stage). They don’t know much about your product or service and are likely just researching a topic or their options. The content offer should closely match the keywords or audience you targeted. Industry-analyst reports, buyer’s guides, and strategy guides tend to perform well at this phase.

Once you have set your goals and established some tactics for each one, think about how you will measure your success. What is the relevant metric to track? How will you track it and report on it? What will you do to adjust your strategy, if you don’t see the results you were expecting?

Need help setting some public relations and marketing goals for 2016? Drop us a line and participate in a public relations strategy session with us.

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Author: Maribeth Neelis