In this age of 24-hour, seven-days-a-week news coverage, no business should dismiss the vast potential of PR, Communication and Media to impact your organisation and influence your stakeholders. Developing a proactive public relations plan can be an effective tool to your business and best defense in preventing potential damage to a company's image in the face of an already skeptical general public. That plan -- what I refer to as "proactive pr and reputation management" -- must be implemented if the company wants to ensure that its reputation and standing in the community remain intact.
You will be convinced that public relations practitioners need to flip their thinking. Simply: from reactive to proactive. In a world where every company is a media company, PR should lead. But only if they can become truly proactive in their approach to the practice.
Media companies are far more proactive than reactive. They plan their content through editorial calendars. Their leadership teams have the executive perspective on content and have a long-term vision with the goal of influencing an industry. They react to news and happenings, but they plan for it. And the reactions happen through the lens of the publication.
Most PR professionals flirt from opportunity to opportunity. It’s tactical and not sustainable. It leads to results here and there but not necessarily in a way that steadily contributes to a larger marketing funnel for a brand.
From watching what most PR firms do as a pr consultant, my perspective was probably 70% or more was reactive. Reactive to company news, industry trends or reporter queries. My sense is that PR needs to be 80 – 90 % proactive. And this involves restructuring your PR to be pull, not push. And that 10 or 20% left over to be reactive. Use it to strategically to feed your critical KPIs that boost inbound. Structure everything around a hub and you’ll grow.
Proactive public relations and reactive public relations are the two common strategies used in PR. Most companies or their PR firms include both in a full PR plan. Their intentions are sometimes misunderstand. Proactive PR strategies consider positive messages the company wants to convey in support of other marketing efforts. Reactive strategies examine potentially negative news based on recognized weaknesses of the company or common criticisms, and establish how the company will respond.
Proactive PR Advantages
A) Strengthen Image, Enhance Reputation
Proactive PR allows the company to strengthen its brand image and enhances reputation through communication tools that are generally free or have no media placement costs. For instance, a company that markets itself as a high-quality brand may attend local events and hand out product samples. Many companies send out newsletters to customers, prospects, partners or other contacts that provide information connected to the brand while supporting the company as an industry leader.
B) Low Cost and Value for Money
Public relations is generally different from advertising in that you do not buy media space with PR. For instance, you can pay to place an ad in a newspaper or submit a press release with a news update. Though you typically have more control when you buy an ad, many companies, especially small businesses, rely on opportunities to convey free messages through media to keep their brands in front of the marketplace. C) Credibility
Proactive PR messages are often perceived as more credible than paid advertising. Compare a newspaper ad placement to a feature editorial. If a company pays for an ad to promote a positive news event, it is common for many in the market to believe the message is biased because it is bought by the company. If a news reporter writes a feature story highlighting the achievement, it is typically viewed as a more credible message because no money was paid for its delivery.
Proactive PR Techniques …………
i) Become less reliant on pushing messages to media and you’ll get more media
It’s By being mostly reactive and always pitching media to tell your story you’re not in a real position of strength. That’s because if you’re always relying on externalities to tell your story, you have no power of your own to disseminate messages to market. But when individuals have more of an audience than entire companies, no company can say it’s too difficult to become a publisher. And a funny thing happens when your brand of media breaks through a threshold of popularity. They actually get more media. And it’s organic.
ii) Being proactive lets you take an interactive approach to content
Its now possible to get feedback from your communications. In near real-time. For free (or cheap). If you organize your PR around execution and test out lots of ideas and stories direct to an audience (every day, bit by bit) you’ll get really good at pushing your industry’s hot buttons. Especially since it’s no longr about your news, product or announcement: it’s about the stuff in between. What you have to say on the day you have no news is what speaks loudest about your company. It shows you have real passion .
Strategic vs. tactical
A reactive approach to PR is inertially tactical. That’s because you are sitting there waiting for opportunity or having to seek it out vs. planning your attack and executing on it. Pursuing outbound as a small percentage of time makes sense, but in a world where all people and companies have power of distribution you should be doing this surgically. Your new bread and butter is building an owned asset for a brand as a hub for the industry.
In general, proactive PR gives a company the opportunity to seize control of the public relations messages that are presented to the public. With an effective proactive strategy, companies are less likely to find themselves resorting to reactive PR strategies that are designed to react to negative news events.
PR Planning Process
A proactive public relations professional must be diligent in his planning — developing key messages, defining audiences and creating objectives, strategies and tactics in advance. Reactive PR on the other hand, includes responding to a media report or event, or trying to hastily develop a relationship for self-serving purposes rather than developing it long term to the benefit of both parties. The advent, subsequent rise and ongoing popularity of social media and instant communication has redefined some elements of proactive public relations.
Your PR plan should address both long-term and short-term objectives. For example, long term might include strengthening relationships with key publics, such as media, customers or outside organizations that are strategic partners on mutual issues. Short term may include a product tour as part of a new product announcement. These are proactive steps. Monitoring editorial calendars should also be a part of this planning, but it is reactive — you are reacting to the media’s schedule. There is nothing wrong with this, but you are competing with many other companies, and it should be a small part of your PR planning.
Crisis PR planning is vital to proactive PR. You cannot think in terms of “if” a crisis happens; you must think in terms of “when” it happens. Regardless of crisis type — product failure, natural disaster, departure or death of a key executive — a crisis plan lays the foundation for dealing with it. It outlines a crisis team and identifies the gatekeeper for outgoing messages as well as possible spokespersons. In short, it allows you to assess the value of the controversy and centralizes the control of information so you look prepared and don’t come across as combative and reactive.
Not monitoring your PR efforts reveals a large gap in your proactive PR efforts. Don’t execute your plan and then sit back and wait for the news coverage or the results. Your PR team needs to monitor the stories to gauge whether your key messages are getting through or if a particular reporter is displaying bias. If you speak at an organizational function, make sure you follow up with contacts you made; you can gauge impressions and get advice about future speaking topics. These are all methods of PR monitoring toward effective proactive PR.
Electronic Communication (Instant Media)
Social media has changed how your company can control content. You don’t have to wait for the media to cover a topic that you think is important to your publics; you can create blogs with self-authored articles and then share them in several different places. You can work with other bloggers in your industry to write for you or share your articles, or even comment on their pieces of relevance. Using search engine optimization can elevate your online position and result in more media without traditional, reactive media pitching.
Basic Proactive PR Tools……
Every facet of public relations involves some form of communication. The largest PR member organization in the United States, the Public Relations Society of America, defines public relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This process involves setting goals or objectives and strategies, formulating key messages and then recommending tactics to achieve your goals. These tactics are your tools, and each tool is created and managed with various techniques.
One of the most common communication tools in PR is the press release. Remember to keep your key messages at the forefront when you write your news release to achieve consistency for your organization. Use the technique of communicating who, what, when, where and why, so the news media get all of the necessary information. Exclude any content that is blatantly self-promotional or advertising in nature; press releases should be news-oriented.
Press meetings involve personal interviews or announcements with media members. A press conference is a technique reserved for important news only, and it involves inviting several media outlets to hear your major announcement simultaneously. The briefing technique is more intimate, with a small group of media representatives. For example, trade media might be invited to a briefing at an industry trade show. Another technique is a press tour, where you visit with media representatives in your clients offices/facilities/plants over several days in a particular region. This is often done for a new product/manufacturing facility demonstration etc
Using social media has become a necessary tactic in many PR strategies, but the techniques should be somewhat different from your personal social media interactions. Your writing and grammar can be informal but still proper. Use multimedia for more impact, such as corporate or demonstration videos. Ask open-ended questions to solicit feedback, and then monitor your feedback carefully. You can also post surveys on social media sites to get customer feedback.
This bureau is set up by selecting and training a group of people with certain expertise to represent your organization on specific issues and topics to your target audiences. For example, your CEO may be an internal member, as well as a person involved in product development. Externally, you may solicit a customer or other beneficiary of your product or service or an outside expert who is seen as an objective source for your company. Speakers should use common public speaking techniques such as staying on the key messages, vocal variations, maintaining eye contact and making strong opening and closing statements.
Goals & Objectives in PR Campaigns
Many companies treat public relations objectives and
goals as the same thing. Others view goals as broad, higher-level statements,
such as stating that a plan’s goal is aimed at reputation management. Once the
goals are determined, specific objectives are set. That step is common for
those who are new to PR as they learn how a plan should flow. The important
thing is that objectives meet the “SMART” test -- specific, measurable,
achievable, realistic and time-focused -- while the goals reflect the campaign
If you decide to lay out broad goals for your campaign, make sure they are tied to your company’s mission statement. This demonstrates that public relations activities are not happening independently and highlights PR's connection your organization’s success. The broad PR goals are management of reputation, changing behaviour, winning trust & favourable opinion, creating awareness, enhancing visibility and crisis management. Thus, your campaign should be geared toward enhancing your company’s image; creating, fostering or improving relationships; or accomplishing something more specific, such as increasing goodwill and public support.
In addition to meeting the SMART test, PR objectives must be rooted in the campaign goals, be challenging enough to justify the cost and effort of the campaign, and have approval of management or of the client. PR objectives have three levels: awareness, acceptance and action. The campaign should contain at least one from each of these levels, and often you will have several. For example, increasing media awareness is a very common PR objective.
Choosing a Level
Choosing a Level
If your company is fairly young or is introducing a new product, objectives should be largely geared to awareness. You need to create media awareness before you can reasonably expect the media to write about you, which is an action objective. You need to brief and educate analysts on the features of your products or services, and you need to introduce your product to your target audience. You can gauge awareness both formally and informally. For example, if you call a reporter and he recognizes your name or your company’s name, that’s an informal assessment of awareness.
Selecting the correct objectives is important for the rest of the PR plan. Strategies and tactics are chosen based on the objectives. For example, if an objective is to increase awareness among trade publications, an industry press tour or media workshop may be part of the tactics. Before committing resources to these activities, do a pre-campaign awareness survey. Trade publications may have heard about your company through industry grapevines and the awareness could be at a higher level than you think