The Growth Journey: How to create a PR strategy

Abigail Nwaocha
The Growth Metric
Published in
8 min readMay 4, 2017


I’ve always believed Public Relations (PR) is outside the responsibilities of a marketer, and to a degree it is. But as marketers, we are responsible for promoting and selling products and services to our target audience.

Irrespective of how that is done, whether through content marketing, email marketing or social media, a semblance of trust is required for any business transaction, and nothing achieves that like good PR.

This is why as a marketer it’s important for to know at the very least, the basics of PR. If you are unsure of the difference between marketing read this post:

Now that you understand the importance of PR, it’s time to create a simple PR strategy.

There are 8 steps to follow for creating a comprehensive PR strategy, these steps are:

  1. Review the past year PR activity
  2. Create PR goals
  3. Define your target audience
  4. Analyze the macro and micro environment affecting your business
  5. Identify key messages
  6. Select PR Tools
  7. Plan PR tactics
  8. Measure results

1. Review the past year PR activity

Before we create a PR strategy for your business, it’s imperative that we evaluate the past year in terms of PR activity, both for your business and for your competitors. We do this by asking the following questions:

  1. Did you get any media attention? Did it impact your business in any way? Did your competitor?
  2. Was it a positive or negative coverage?
  3. What journalist or blogger wrote favorable articles about you? What about your competitor? In what publication or blog?
  4. What journalist or blogger wrote unfavorable articles about you? And your competitor? In what publication or blog?
  5. How influential is the journalist or blogger?
  6. When you search for your company on search engines what are the results? What happens when you narrow down to only results from the past year? (To do this from the search page, select tools and change ‘any time’ to ‘past year’)

Odds are, after this review, you’d be able to benchmark your performance with your competitors. Even better, it’ll give you an idea of what to do and how much you can improve on.

2. Create PR goals

Now that you’ve analyzed your past performance, and your competitors PR efforts, you should already have a list of ideas and PR action plans you’d like to implement.

Whether or not those action plans and ideas are to be implemented depends on the long term and short term impact it could have. However, it’s impractical to begin acting on those ideas without formulating a clear strategy. And to do this we’d need to outline the goals you aim to accomplish and then decide if those action plans and ideas contribute to those goals.

This is where SMART goals come in to play. Your PR goals should be






Most importantly, your PR goal should tie into your overall all business goal. Achieving your PR goal should contribute to archiving your business goal.

If you’re new to creating SMART goals, read this post by Leonard Kim

To create a PR goal, start by writing your business goal for the year, quarter or whatever timeline you had set. Now create a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound PR goal(s) that relates to your business goal.

For ideas on how to create SMART PR goals I recommend:

3. Define your target audience

As a marketer, you’ve probably heard or read about the importance of defining your target audience.

REMEMBER: Marketing is a business role or function defined by the action of promoting or selling products and/or services, to a target audience.

Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public. -Wikipedia

It’s important to define what the ‘public’ here means. This could include stakeholders, employees, customers and potential customers. Your target audience can be individuals or a group of people, it could also be businesses or a community.

The success of a business depends greatly on the market. Successful businesses know who their target audience are, so they’re able to tailor their message to them.

You can find out who your target audience is by asking yourself these questions

  1. Who would be interested in hearing about my business?
  2. Who could have the greatest impact on my business outcome?
  3. Where would they learn about positive and negative news about my business? On social media? Television?
  4. Who would take action and purchase my products and services?
  5. Is my message family-friendly? Should it be?

While buyer personas are said to be a “marketing thing” I've discovered that they are also very helpful in PR.

To learn about buyers personas and how to create them I recommend this post by Olabinjo:

4. Analyze the macro and micro environment affecting your business

Let’s start by defining what Macro and Micro environments are:

A Macro environment is major external and uncontrollable factors that influence an organization’s decision making, and affect its performance and strategies.

These factors include the economic factors; demographics; legal, political, and social conditions; technological changes; and natural forces. -Bussiness Dictionary

Take a minute to analyze what Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors could affect the public’s opinion of your company.

Write this down because when we get to the tactics section of this post, these factors will come into play and will determine what you should and should not do.

Micro environment refers to the environment which is in direct contact with the business organization and can affect the routine activities of business straight away. It is associated with a small area in which the business functions. -Key Differences

Factors that influence your business micro environment are:

  • Customers
  • Competitors
  • Suppliers and distribution channels
  • Employees (workers and their unions)
  • Stakeholders
  • Media

With this information, analyze what could affect your business positively and negatively.

For more information on understanding the effects of the external and internal environment on your business I recommend:

5. Identify key messages

Now that you know the factors affecting your industry and your business, who your target audience is, and what your goals are, you should have a better idea of what to do.

Before doing that, lets take a step back and define what we’re going to say, how we’re going to say it, and why we should say anything.

Your message is one of the most important aspects in crafting a great PR strategy. To come up with your key messages, start by asking this questions:

  • What do I want the public to know about my business?
  • What is my company’s vision or mission?
  • What is my elevator pitch?
  • Why should the public care about me rather than my competitor?

So what is your key message? and how does it relate to the other steps? What would your target audience think of your key message? Would they react positively or negatively?

6. Select PR Tools

Now that we know what our message is, it’s time to think about how we’d get our message out there. This is where PR tools come in to play.

There are lots of amazing PR tools out there, but if you’re new to PR or if you’re working with a limited fund, then it’s best to start cheap.

Fortunately, cheap doesn’t necessary mean bad, and there are several amazing free PR tools in the market for you to start with such as:

  1. Muck Rack
  2. Source Bottle
  3. Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
  4. A News Tip

I’m not going to go into detail explaining each tool as I already did so here:

7. Plan PR tactics

Now that you’ve sketched out your key messages and the tools you’ll use to get your messages out. It’s time to decide on the tactics you’ll use.

The PESO model comes in to play here.

Spin sucks 2015

This image should give you an idea of the different tactics and strategies you could use to get the word about your business.

The beauty of this is that it presents you with endless possibilities. It reminds you that there are other media to use for getting the word out, not just press releases.

8. Measure results

It’s time to consider how you’ll measure success or failure. This of course should relate to the goal you set earlier. Remember the M in SMART?

Here we have to define what exactly we’re going to measure, that way we can accurately say we’ve hit our goals… or not.

It’s also important to consider how often to measure i.e. weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Remember that different media would have different KPI’s, for example.

For social media we could decide to measure:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Referrals
  • Growth (Likes, followers etc.)

For events we could measure:

  • Number of sponsors
  • Attendee’s feedback

For your website we could choose to measure:

  • Traffic (new & repeat visitors)
  • Page views
  • Referrals

There are other KPI’s you could measure such as:

  • Brand mentions
  • Feedback from influencers

Use the PESO model to come up with different KPI’s for each media type, but remember that it should tie to PR goal.

That brings us to the end of this guide. I hope it has been helpful, should you need any help feel free to reach out to me on Twitter,on LinkedIn or by Commenting below.

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