A comprehensive public relations plan is an essential part of a successful small business marketing strategy.
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Without it, your company will flail in the PR department, blindly chasing after any media opportunity that comes your way.
A PR plan brings focus to your business' media strategy.
It can be as complex or as simple as you need it to be. Some entrepreneurs hire public relations professionals to craft a PR plan for them. But there is nothing magical about creating a PR plan and many business owners are capable of creating a reliable PR plan using in-house resources.
In its most basic form, a PR plan is a description of media-related goals and objectives. It is always created in tandem with an overall marketing plan that carefully identifies target messages and audiences. It's common for PR plans to a six-month timeline and coverage of topics like media outreach strategies, social networking initiatives, and a PR crisis plan.
If you do it well, here just a few of the benefits a PR plan can offer your business:
- Name recognition. Most advertising is designed to elicit an immediate response from consumers, i.e. "Buy this product now!" In contrast, PR plans work on a longer time horizon. Instead of delivering immediate results, the initiatives described in your PR plan will work over a longer period of time to increase your company's name recognition with consumers – and that translates into greater credibility when they eventually make a purchasing decision.
- Value proposition reinforcement. Your value proposition is largely based on the perceived benefits of your products. If there is a perception that your benefits are more significant than the benefits provided by the competition, customers are happy to pay a little more for your products. A good PR plan can reinforce your value proposition (and increase sales revenues) by using third-parties to communicate product benefits to consumers.
- Financial savings. A PR plan can communicate the same message as an ad campaign, but for a significantly lower price. There are differences between an ad campaign and a PR strategy, but far too often business owners try to communicate a message with a costly ad campaign when a less expensive PR plan is the more appropriate strategy.
- Brand enhancement. You can't launch a brand without an effective PR plan. It takes time and repetition to burn your brand into the minds of consumers. You could pour money into ad campaigns to keep your name and logo in front of the buying public, or you could create a PR plan that leverages free media outlets combined with targeted advertising to establish your brand in the consumer consciousness.