Throughout my college career, I’ve had many opportunities to plan tons of PR campaigns. Of the four major steps of a campaign: research, action planning, implementation, evaluation, I have the most experience researching and planning campaigns. Here are the nine key steps in planning a public relations campaign.
This one may be obvious, but you need to create a goal for your campaign! This is a one sentence statement of what your campaign is trying to accomplish.
Objectives are the statements, more specified with who, what, when, where, and why, that will get you to accomplish your goal. They must be S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Once these are clear, your key publics (see below) will become obvious.
3. Big Idea
The “big idea” is the overarching strategy and message that can appeal to the publics you are targeting. This is also something you want to describe in one sentence. Then make sure you create a bulleted list of the three components of a big idea: strategy, message representation, and visual representation. You also can include an option fourth component, a slogan.
4. Key Publics
This step includes defining the key audience you will be targeting for your campaign. You want to make sure you identify many areas of your key publics (and you can have more than one at times if it helps you achieve your goal) like demographics, relationship with issue, opinion leaders, etc.
The message step of this process is focused on self-interests and is specific to the public. Create a primary message or small number of primary messages then another list of secondary messages.
The strategies tie back into creating a G.O.S.T. outline in the campaign (Goal, objectives, strategies, and tactics), and the strategies are the things that will be done to send the message to the key publics. There can be multiple strategies.
Tactics are the even more specific steps outlined under strategies in how you are going to deliver your message to the publics. There are usually more than one of these, and they outline specified details.
The calendar outlines the timeline of your campaign and when you will be doing what. It shows when each tactic begins and ends and are typically organized by publics and strategies. GANT charts are recommended in this step.
The budget outlines each cost of EVERYTHING in your campaign, no exceptions to any potential cost even if it is $0 or sponsors/donations. They are also organized by publics and strategies. Don’t forget to have a section for subtotals.