Campaign Strategy - How to win at communications.

In the world of marketing and communications, everybody knows that a solid strategy is essential to a successful campaign. But what exactly does a PR strategy entail, and how does one ensure that the campaign lands where or how it should? First, let’s have a look at what a PR strategy is.

Simply put, a PR strategy is an agile roadmap that is aimed at building and/or improving a brand’s image. It should be a collection of actions centred on a clear objective such as informing the public of company news, raising awareness of new product developments, managing the brand’s reputation, or mitigating risks. Successful PR strategies use deliberate messaging and relevant media outlets or publications to gain publicity and coverage to communicate with a target audience.

Here are some key components that make up a PR strategy.

Corporate Communications – Your brand’s voice. Communication with other businesses, internally and externally, should always echo the same message.

Media Relations – Creating a relationship with the press will help you extend your brand’s messaging beyond owned media while, to an extent, still allows you to control the narrative.

Community Relations – Your brand is part of a community, whether it be social, local, national or global. By having a community relations strategy, your brand establishes a presence and the perceptions of others.

Crisis Management – The presence of a crisis management strategy can help you avert reputation damages. Agility in times of crisis allows you to operate as normally as possible and aids in preserving your brand image.

Events Management – Your brand’s events (virtual or onsite) are a valuable marketing tool. They are an opportunity to create positive experience associations of your brand to the targeted audience.

Setting up a strategy from scratch is always overwhelming, which is why it is best to break it down into more manageable steps.

Know your target audience

Marketing 101: The message is only strongly received to those it’s intended.

To develop a PR message, one needs to determine an audience whence the message would be most impactful. This means that clear personas need to be determined to maximise the campaign reach. If you are looking to target individuals within the Business-to-Business (B2B) industry, the campaign should demonstrate the benefits and business values that resonate with them. Whereas a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) audience will respond better to narratives which address needs or desires in their lives.

B2B messaging is generally rational and speaks to how the product/service will add value to the business. Messaging should be addressed to teams and companies and effort must be made to determine their pain points and then sell them the solutions. Most of the time, messaging is relationship driven and there is often a lengthy purchase funnel which requires nurturing.

Other factors which should be considered include job titles, job function, industry, company and the level of education of the audience. Broad messaging falls flat within a niche market.

You should aim to build trust and credibility so that the intended audience looks to you for efficacy and expertise.

B2C messaging tends to be more emotional and appeals to the audience’s personal feelings about a product or service and should prompt impulse or an urge to buy. The audience would be Individuals or households and generally broader in terms of demographics – age, race, gender, location. The key is to determine desires and sell products to meet them, which ultimately translates into a simple and quick purchase journey.

The B2C audience seeks entertainment and deals and responds to brand awareness and repetition.

Select the best channel

Your predefined audience plays a big part in determining which channel would be best to pursue your PR strategy. For example, when going the social media route, platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are declared to be more visual content platforms compared to Twitter which mostly features breaking news and trending topics.

Once you have identified what your target audience’s platform of choice for media consumption is, you can consistently feed them new information and updates about your business in the most effective way. Be sure to adapt your content for various platforms for the message to be conveyed with maximum impact.

Media channels can be separated into two categories: Traditional Media and Digital Media.

Traditional Media is used to build awareness, establish credibility and reach your audience in a more tangible way, away from devices and in their immediate environment. Traditional media channels include:

  • Print

Printed information can be distributed to your audience by means of newspapers, magazines, brochures and flyers. Newspaper and magazine advertising also affords you the opportunity to build relationships with journalists. Having the right journalist in your corner goes a long way to promote your brand and to influence perception.

  • Broadcast

Broadcast media enables you to convey your message to an already engaged audience. Television, radio, podcasts are extremely effective for brand positioning, credibility and awareness and it is sometimes the most cost effective way to get your message across.

  • Cold calling

Whilst it can be viewed as intrusive, cold calling enables you to craft your message to cater directly to the individual. You can instantly engage with them and attend to their immediate concerns. Cold calling can also be used for outreach to introduce your brand to journalists, influencers and media outlets.

  • OOH

Out of home advertising such as billboards, street poles and bus stops reach a mass audience and provides unparalleled visibility and geographic flexibility. It forces you to think out of the box to create clever and impactful messaging that leaves a lasting impression. Constant visibility means that it cannot be scrolled past which extends the life of the campaign and magnifies the potential success.

  • Events

Showcase your brand to the general public by means of events, exhibitions and roadshows. Interacting with your audience in a face-to-face environment will help you establish your brand and build credibility in the most effective way.

Digital Media enables you to directly and instantly interact with your audience in various ways which may be convenient for them. Digital media channels include:

  • Website

A well designed website is the best first impression you can make. A website can act as an online newsroom and a platform on which to assert your authority on subject matter by means of blogs and thought leadership content.

  • Social Media

Social media offers real-time messaging and interaction, allowing you to amplify your message for more impactful PR campaigns. Social media also supports other PR efforts such as newsletters, emails and press releases by making content easy to share, which improves longevity and reach.

  • Email

Email campaigns can assist in building authority for your brand by sharing industry related news and content to educate your audience about specific topics. Using newsletters and email updates can breed assurance, trust and confidence in your brand.

  • SEO

Your content is only as effective as your SEO makes it to be. SEO is an integral part of your content strategy as it allows your target audience to easily find your content by means of search ranking, keywords and backlinks.

  • Affiliation

Reach more of your audience and build credibility with the most effective affiliations and partnerships. Third-party validation can drastically improve your campaign.

  • Webinars

Webinars are an excellent way to connect with your audience and offer valuable content in a live, interactive way. Q&A sessions are often educational and will boost your brand perception.

Once you’ve crafted a detailed profile of your target audience and established which media channels will be most effective, you should turn your attention to measurement and evaluation. Something which is often overlooked, but has the potential to vastly improve current and future campaigns.

Keep track of progress

Every strategy needs to have a measurement metric because measurement and evaluation will help you determine the success of your PR efforts. Having a tracking system also empowers teams to make timely adjustments and optimise campaigns that are not delivering as intended.

But before we can start our measurement and evaluation, we need to lay a strong foundation with SMART Goals.

SMART Goals are defined as follows:

S – Specific

Goals should be focused and clear enough to identify a tangible outcome. For example, you could aim to reach a certain amount of LinkedIn followers within a set time frame to improve your reach.

M – Measurable

Set measurement and evaluation criteria to better determine progress toward the accomplishment of the objectives and goals. Criteria can include an increase in newsletter signups, engagement rate or the number of clicks on a campaign post.

A – Achievable

The objectives and goals within your strategy should be challenging but still achievable within reason. The specific objective can be broken down to further goals that contribute to it. 

R – Relevant

The PR strategy must be aligned with the overall organisational goals and/or contribute to the bottom-line.

T – Time based

Objectives and goals within your PR strategy should always follow a timeline. By defining deadlines, you motivate and empower your team to remain focused and apply the discipline necessary to achieve them.

Next, you need to decide on how you want to measure your campaign. This is done with the help of measurement metrics. Here are some examples of measurement metrics to determine success.

Media coverage

Monitoring media coverage will help you determine where your campaign is performing the best. Coverage can be attributed to earned media, PR outreach and paid editorial opportunities.

Media reach

Reach helps you assess the possible impact of coverage. Media monitoring tools and software can help you determine the potential readership or audiences for your campaigns.

Share of Voice

A comparative calculation of your brand’s mentions in the media versus the mentions of your competition. This metric utilises brand mentions across chosen platforms and can assist in benchmarking campaign success.

Sentiment analysis

Measuring public perception of your brand is essential to understanding victories and losses in your PR strategy. Historical sentiment data will help shape your next campaign.

Website traffic

Analysing website traffic will help you determine the effectiveness of your PR campaigns. By breaking down your website leads into organic, returning, referral, unique and mobile, you can differentiate your audiences and retarget your campaigns accordingly.

Every campaign is unique and therefore requires its own set of measurement metrics. Be sure to research and apply the best and most relevant metrics every time. Many professionals still rely on “good old AVEs”, but they have been shown to be ineffective as a measurement tool.

The redundancy of AVEs

Advertising Value Equivalent (AVEs) are used to measure the ROI value of PR and communications strategy performance. We encourage industry professionals to move away from AVEs as a measure of success as they can be manipulated in a way that fits certain narratives by inflating its value. The misuse of the metric for such purposes can be destructive to the PR and communication performance, measurement, and effectiveness.

AVEs only measure the cost of buying equivalent media space and time for advertising, and the cost is often hypothetical. They do not calculate value nor do they measure the impact or effect of the content. AVEs do not take into consideration factors such as reach, sentiment, tone or positioning.

Looking at different media, one can quickly determine the shortcomings of AVEs. For example, magazines will provide a cost on full page rate and from there the cm2 is calculated based on the full-page rate. Radio rates are based on time frames during the day and normally for 30 second segments.​

Television rates are based on particular programs and online media has no general agreed standard at all. Methodologies and calculations to determine AVEs for online coverage differ widely which leads to vast discrepancies between different providers.

This is where the Barcelona Principles 3.0 steps in to shows us the error in our ways. The Barcelona Principles refers to a set of seven voluntary guidelines established by the public relations industry to measure the efficiency of PR campaigns. They were the first overreaching framework for effective public relations and communications measurement.

The seven principles are as follows:

  1. Setting goals is an absolute prerequisite to communications planning, measurement, and evaluation.
  2. Measurement and evaluation should identify outputs, outcomes, and potential impact.
  3. Outcomes and impact should be identified for stakeholders, society, and the organization.
  4. Communication measurement and evaluation should include both qualitative and quantitative analysis.
  5. AVEs are not the value of communication.
  6. Holistic communication measurement and evaluation includes all relevant online and offline channels.
  7. Communication measurement and evaluation are rooted in integrity and transparency to drive learning and insights.

As they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail, so it is really important to do the groundwork and properly set your campaign up for success. This will leave you free to interact with your audience in an organic way, to build on the hype it may create or to handle any crisis that may arise.

Ornico is The All in One Brand Intelligence® solution built for marketing professionals first. Take control of all your brand needs with creative monitoring, media monitoring, ad spend measurement, creative evaluation analysis, reputation management, crisis and risk management and competition analysis – all in one place. Hello, Brand Intelligence®. Book a demo today