The five foundations for successful PR

When it comes to improving ROI from your PR and marketing activity, getting the right foundations in place is essential. We’ve all got big ideas and goals, but making things happen is about scaling everything back and start at the beginning – with a plan.

As Walt Disney said, “First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. Finally, dare.”. Your ideas turn to dreams, you start to believe in those dreams, and then they become a reality. To make your marketing dreams a reality you need to start with the basics – the five foundations for successful PR.

1. DNA

The first PR foundation is your business’ ‘DNA’ – your unique formula or ‘secret sauce’. It’s what makes you different from every other business out there. It’s the foundations behind everything you say, everything you do and everything others say about you.

Your DNA has three main components: your vision (why you’re in business), your mission (what makes you different) and your values (and values-driven messages).

Your vision: why are you in business?

Your vision should get to the root of your business’ ‘why’. Why do you do what you do? It’s not about making money – that’s simply a result of what you do. Instead, it’s about the deeper cause behind your business – what did you set out to achieve? What’s the end goal? What is the difference you’re looking to make?

Be careful to differentiate this from ‘what’ you do. For example, at Kinetic, ‘what’ we do is PR and communications consultancy to help businesses stand out and grow, and ‘why’ we do it is because we believe every decent business deserves to be trusted.

Your mission: ­how do you do things differently or better than anyone else?

Your mission is your sustainable competitive advantage – it’s what makes you unique against all of your competitors across the world. Every business has a competitive advantage – you wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t. As Warren Buffet says, the fundamental basis of long-term success is a sustainable competitive advantage.

Your mission needs to get across why people should choose your business. It’s not about having ‘the best service’ or ‘the highest quality product’ – someone can always come along and be better, or innovate something equally or more impressive. Instead, it’s about something no one else is doing – you could be the first to offer a new service or product, for example, but ensure you focus on why that’s important to your customer.

woman holding DNA strand graphic

Your values: how you do things your way?

These are the characteristics that everyone who works with you must have – the behaviour traits that make them the perfect fit for your business culture. It’s what everyone in your business holds dear.

Be careful these aren’t simply ‘hygiene checks’ (the traits your customers would expect you to have), such as ‘professional’ or ‘trustworthy’, as these will add little value in differentiating your business from the melee of competition out there.

Your values should also be about more than just the words themselves. It’s often the messaging and meaning behind those words that will really resonate with your audience, so think about what you want people to think, feel and believe about you.

2. Target audience personas

The second PR foundation is your target audience personas. To reach your audience effectively, you need to understand them. Think about your key target markets – start with no more than five – and build target audience personas that address the ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ of those people.

Your personas might be based on current or previous customers, or simply people you know, but they should be fuelled by some form of insight and research to ensure they’re accurate. Personas are also rarely a static concept, and they will evolve over time as the business landscape and consumer buying habits change.

For a guide to build your target audience personas, click here.

3. Objectives

The third PR foundation is objectives. To improve the ROI of any marketing activity – no matter the form, channel or purpose – it needs to be guided by some form of end goal or objective. Your objectives will help you to see what’s working and what’s not, giving you the information you need to adjust your activity accordingly.

These objectives should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. They should also be outcome rather than output focused; this ensures you’re leading with the end result, rather than the vanity metrics. For example, rather than saying you’d like ‘to increase Twitter followers by 100 in 3 months’, focus on the outcome from that, for example ‘to lift the online profile of the brand by raising the Twitter followers by 100 in 3 months’. This also enables you to think around the outcome as to other output measures that would contribute to this, allowing for stronger evaluation

For a guide to set measurable objectives to improve ROI, click here.

4. Plan

Communications plan PR package logo

As Benjamin Franklin said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. The same applies for PR. The fourth PR foundation is a strong communications plan, which grounds all of your activity, keeping it centred around your objectives, audience and core messaging

Your plan should detail all of the activity you’re doing – including what you’re going to say, where and when you’re going to say it. It should have creative content ideas and should be built around your objectives and your audience

Start with a three or six month plan and plot all of your various marketing activity – emailers, social media, blogs, etc. If you come up with new ideas along the way, test them against the plan. Your plan prevents an ‘ad hoc’ approach to marketing – it ensures your efforts are sustained, well thought out and in line with what you’re looking to achieve.

5. Evaluation benchmarks

The final PR foundation is evaluation benchmarks.

When you start your PR or marketing activity, set benchmarks so you can track your progress towards meeting your objectives. For example, if you’re looking to boost social engagement, think about taking an audit of ‘where we’re at now’. Then, you can evaluate results against this to see if what you’re doing is having a measured impact.

You can also set evaluation benchmarks as your campaign progresses. For example, if you’re blogging more to increase online visibility or sending an emailer to boost website traffic, think about tagging the events annotations in Google Analytics so you can see any traffic variations.

For a more detailed guide on PR evaluation, click here.

Getting more from your marketing

Your business deserves to be trusted – it’s time to make a step-change with compelling communications.

If you’d like better results from your PR and marketing activity, book your free communications review with the Kinetic team today.

Alternatively, get in touch with a member of the team.


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