Public relations, as stated by The Public Relations Society of America, "helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other." PRSA's website goes on to say: "In this definition, the essential functions of research, planning, communications dialogue and evaluation are implied." The job of public relations is getting people to have a favorable image of—and to trust—a product, service, cause, company, or organization. This is PR in its broadest sense. Let's get specific.
Our concern is marketing public relations, which is specifically geared toward helping your company meet its marketing objectives. A key element of any business plan is the Marketing Strategy, part of which includes your plan to build public relations. A PR plan must always begin with solid research—which begins with the research we at MasterPlans conduct and integrate into your business plan. The goal of this research is to define objectives, identify target audiences, craft messages, and create media strategies. You will work to answer essential questions: What is your message? And to whom are you directing it? What story do you want your target audience to absorb and respond to? How will you win the trust of your target audience?
In addition to answering the questions above, you will have to decide which public relations tools and strategies will best suit your purposes. Your options are many and varied. Any and all tactics you plan to use should appear in your business plan. If publicity (print, TV, radio, and/or web) is your aim, make sure you have a strong press kit. Media is a main channel through which public relations are conducted. Publicity (attention and mention in and by the media) is an important part of public relations, but it is by no means the only part—although it is usually what comes to mind first when PR is mentioned. Other options include special events, charity or other sponsorships, partnerships, endorsements, trade show presence, spokesmen/women, connecting to a cause, making a local connection to a national organization or story. And the list goes on. Get creative!
Whatever your goal may be, PR can work for you. Maybe you are introducing your company, introducing a new product, communicating new benefits of an old product, trying to get sales to skyrocket, positioning or re-positioning your company or an executive within it, or creating buzz prior to or hand-in-hand with an advertising campaign. These are just a few of the myriad goals that public relations can help you attain.
When developing your business plan, think through whether you can handle public relations duties in-house, or if you might benefit from working with a public relations consultant or a PR firm. In either case, budgeting for PR is a must. Putting together your PR plan of attack is an exciting part of your business plan. But remember, this is just the beginning. Cultivating successful public relations is an ongoing, organic process.