Elements of a PR Plan

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Elements of a PR Plan

Elements of a PR Program
Table of Contents
• Overview
• Why Public Relations is Important
• Elements of a PR Program
• Press Kits (Print and Electronic)
• Develop Media Lists
• Press Releases
- Announcements
- Major announcements
- Trend Press releases
- Feature story releases
- B-roll or video news releases (VNRs)
- Webcasts
• Media Training
- Becoming a source
• Public service announcements (PSAs)
• Op-Ed Articles
• Letters to the Editor
• Press conferences
• Media tours
• Press Clipping Services
- “Riding” a news story
Special Events
Trade Shows
Speech Writing
Audio Tapes
Internet Monitoring
Community Meetings
Specialized Fact Sheets
By-line Articles
Quarterly Newsletters
Annual Reports
Community Calendar Listings
PR Campaign Measurement
Crisis Management
• Contact Information

Elements of a PR Program
We often get asked what makes a successful public relations program?
What does it cost? Does my organization really need it? How long do I
need to do it? Can’t I do it myself? Why do my competitors always get
in the papers? Why does the media get my story wrong?
To answer some of these questions we have put together this booklet as
a starting point for a discussion on how to develop a public relations
Unless you are a celebrity good public relations just doesn’t happen on
its own. It takes a lot of skill, and consistent hard work, over a period of
time. It’s part art, part science and when practiced correctly the results
can be very rewarding.
The bottom line, public relations—versus other marketing communica-
tion tools — delivers the most bang for your buck.

Why Public Relations is Important
Media coverage increases credibility
Paid advertising increases name recognition; media relations increases cred-
ibility. When people read a story about the excellence of your organization
in a newspaper or see a story praising your company on television, they are
much more likely to have a favorable opinion of your organization.
Media coverage helps you attract "quality" prospects
Because public relations increases credibility, it helps you attract those who
want the best. When people have heard of you and have a favorable
impression of you, it is easier to attract and hold their attention while you
tell your story.
Media coverage makes you a player
Coverage in important publications or on TV can make your organization
look much larger than it is.
Public relations helps you avoid price competition
If people believe that you are the best, they will understand why it is worth
paying your price.
A public relations program stretches your marketing budget
Because the media does not charge for news coverage, the relative cost of
a good program is a lot less than for paid media or a direct mail campaign.
Best way to launch a brand
Public relations is also considered by many as the best way to launch a
brand or new product. When something is new the media often will write
about it because of its news value.

Elements of a PR Program
Create a plan with goals and objectives. Define the target audiences and
the target messages. Plan how your media relations program will fit with
your other marketing communications programs. Establish in advance how
you want to measure the success of your program.
Press kits (print & electronic)
A press package is the foundation of any media relations program. It
consists of a series of stories, usually placed in a two-sided folder with
pockets, that organizes information in a way that is easy for the news media
to use. Typically it will include a description of the organization, key facts
and figures, biographies of the principals, a history, and two or three stories
on current trends and issues. It functions as instant background material
when a story arises. Press packages also usually include photography.
With the growing importance of the Internet, the opportunity to deliver a
press kit instantly gives every company or organization one more good rea-
son to have a press section on their Web site. When a reporter calls and
wants a document, photograph, map or chart, he or she can turn to your
Web site and obtain the information in a form that can be used accurately
and with a minimum of additional work.
Develop Media Lists
The shotgun approach (sending your news to every outlet/broadcaster/pub-
lication in the country) is not the most effective way to reach your target
audience. Taking time to do a little research can produce greater results for
your efforts. Know whom you want to reach and know the format and
medium that the media prefer. Delivering your story in the right format to
the right media is more likely to ensure successful coverage.
News wires are also valuable in getting your message out to a wide audi-
ence. These services deliver your story to newsrooms worldwide and can
be targeted based on parameters you set. Have a story that deals with a
labor issue in California? Target the workplace reporters/editors in
California publications.

Elements of a PR Program
Brief press releases should be issued on such topics as promotions or hiring
of new executives, openings of new buildings and the addition of new
products. These typically result in one- to two-paragraph stories in
publications, and keep your name in front of the target audience.
Major Announcements
These could be a new research development, a major new product or a
major new change in business direction. These typically result in 500- to
800-word stories in print publications and often merit radio and television
coverage. Occasionally, a press conference or press briefing may be
appropriate in conjunction with major announcements.
“Trend” Press Releases
These are usually the most valuable to the news media, and will help you
establish a reputation as a source. These are about developing trends in
your industry and contain information that would otherwise be difficult for
the media to obtain. The following are examples of trend releases: What
are the "hottest" spots in the Bay Area real estate market? Are more
Americans traveling to Russia now and why? Are physicians gaining more
clout in negotiating with insurance companies? Are major medical groups
paying more or less attention to holistic/alternative medical therapies?
Feature Story Releases
Although a feature story must be newsworthy, in the broad sense of the
word, it is also timeless. It can run in today’s paper or tomorrow’s or next
week’s. Feature stories are often called "evergreen" for this reason – it’s
always fresh and will not fade. Unlike a news story, a feature can have a
point of view, an "angle", and is often longer than a hard news story on the
same subject.

Elements of a PR Program
B-roll or Video News Releases
Background video tapes will help get your story on television. Again, they
are most useful when a subject is difficult or inconvenient to film. Examples
would be surgery, the inner workings of a computer or restricted areas of an
You may want to do a complete video news release (VNR) when there is an
important announcement, or simply have background footage available for
various television stations to put together their own stories. Footage must
be in professional Betacam format, rather than VHS.
This is rapidly becoming a major publicity tool as people take advantage of
the Web’s multimedia capabilities. Webcasts can be live events or archived
and available on demand. They are a cost-effective, instantaneous method
to communicate with media all over the world, in a compelling, interactive
manner that meets journalists’ needs. Using Webcasts, you can extend the
reach of your PR efforts, reduce your budget for spokespeople, ensure your
message is communicated consistently across all audiences, better fit into
journalists’ schedules, and provide more compelling supporting elements.
Media Training for Spokespersons
Spokespersons should be immediately available and trained in how to work
with the media. The media usually wants to speak to an authority in the
field, not the public relations person, for in-depth stories. The role of the
public relations person is to facilitate the selection and training of an
appropriate and available expert. Media training can range from a brief
15-minute coaching session to two-day, videotaped seminars including
practice interviews. The latter costs more than $1,000 per person, but is
vital for persons who are often in the public eye on controversial topics.

Elements of a PR Program
Becoming a Source
One of the key strategies of a successful public relations plan should be to
become a source when the news media is doing its own story. One
achieves this by issuing regular, professionally written press releases to let
reporters know you are here and by being available when they call. Calls
must be returned within the hour — sooner if possible — seven days a
week, 24 hours a day.
Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
PSAs are among the most common types of publicity for non-profit organi-
zations. Since they are short, broadcasters run a lot of them and they are
easier to get than specials, interviews, features, or news coverage. You can
say a lot in 20, 30 or 60 seconds and since it is likely to be repeated several
times, your message will have multiple impact. The least expensive kind of
PSA is "live" copy, where the announcer reads your material live. You may
also submit pre-recorded material, if you have a production budget. Live
copy to TV stations should include visual material. And there are several
different formats to be considered if shooting or producing your own PSA –
you’ll need to find that out in advance.
“Op-ed” Articles
"Op-ed" articles, so named because they typically run opposite the editorial
page, are an excellent opportunity to comment on issues of the day and to
build name recognition as an expert in the field. They run under the
by-lines of experts, and give you a chance to state your case in your own
words, with minimal editing by a reporter. Once published, they can be
effectively used as reprints.
Letters to the Editor
Many papers try to publish as many Letters to the Editor as possible and
they take these letters seriously. Make it short, concise and focused on a
single point. This is also an effective venue for addressing a controversial
issue, clarifying any misconceptions or inaccurate reporting about your busi-
ness or product, or introducing a new product. But regardless of the pur-
pose, it should never be more than 3-5 paragraphs.

Elements of a PR Program
Press Conferences
Press conferences are usually appropriate only for public agencies and
nationally known figures. They are rarely used by businesses except after
disasters that result in negative publicity such as an oil spill or an airline
crash. There are two key reasons to avoid press conferences. One is that
there is no time of day that is convenient for all of the news media, given
differing deadline pressures. And if a major event conflicts with your press
conference, you've lost your audience altogether. The second reason is that
good reporters dislike press conferences because they want to get a better
story than the competition. If everybody has the same information, it is diffi-
cult for a reporter to shine by virtue of doing more research.
Media Tours
There are two types of media tours. Incoming – opening your doors to the
media – can have positive effects. Tours can be done in person or via satel-
lite and there are numerous organizations that can film, edit, produce and
distribute these "tours" for you. Letting the media know you are available
to appear or talk on short notice can also be effective.
Outgoing tours – taking your message to the media – is also effective,
though somewhat more time consuming and expensive. This is best used
when doing investor relations, attending a trade show, or making major
changes in a multinational or multi-state corporation (e.g., downsizing, man-
agement changes, spin-offs).
Press Clipping Services
You’ll want to know if syndicates and wire services are picking up your story.
That’s where a subscription to a clipping service can help. These services
scan thousands of newspapers, magazines, and Web sites and monitor tele-
vision talk shows and news programs looking for mention of your company
or product. You can also provide them with key words thereby keeping up-
to-date on your industry or competition. There are services that still manual-
ly clip articles but there are also Web-based services that scan electronic
versions of publications and deliver your "clippings" in electronic form. In
either case, having these clippings enables you to judge whether your news
is reaching your target audience and if your PR plan is effective.

Elements of a PR Program
“Riding” a News Story
When a topic on which you have expertise is in the news, it is important to
issue a release immediately that includes a brief comment and the
statement that you are available for interviews.
Special Events
Special events can be held to introduce new products, bring attention to an
organization or individual, make an announcement, or spotlight something
very visual that cannot be communicated via a press release. However, it is
just as important to provide the media with background material – a one-
page release, copies of statements made, information that will help them
write a good story, product samples, souvenirs, etc. And, as with press con-
ferences, follow-up is crucial. Often the press will not cover an event itself
but will use it as a "news peg" for an advance story.
Trade Shows
Trade shows can be good opportunities to make company announcements
– new products, acquisitions, and alliances – because trade journalists are
often present. Setting up one-on-one interviews or background meetings
can be tricky since other companies are likely doing the same thing. To
maximize your trade show presence, use of the Internet and your company
Web site can help. By building a virtual presentation, media (and potential
clients visiting your booth) can experience a "press conference," view pho-
tos or video, get critical background material, obtain third party quotes or
request interviews, and be kept up-to-date as information changes through-
out the trade show and beyond. Contacting key media in advance and
offering time with your executives can be the incentive they need to seek
you out and cover your news.