How to Strategically Set PR Goals

Oct 7, 2020News

What do you really want from PR? Do you want more social media followers, higher sales, or expansion into a new territory or industry?

Setting strategic and relevant public relations goals isn’t rocket science, but companies frequently miss the mark. Often, it’s because the PR strategy is disconnected from business goals. As your business begins annual planning for 2021, take the opportunity to craft a PR strategy and tactics that align with the broader goals for your organization. Knowing what you want to accomplish is key to building a thoughtful PR plan for next year.


Be Strategic

PR is most successful when it corresponds to and supports specific initiatives happening in your company. What are you wanting to feature, promote, or push next year? Here are some common initiatives:

  • New line of service or product launch. If you plan to unveil something new for your customers, identify your target market and craft a PR strategy designed to build awareness and connect with that specific audience segment.
  • Particular growth focus. If your business is leveraging one particular service, industry, or customer base, be sure your media efforts also highlight the area where you hope to grow.
  • Recruiting new employees to fulfill a business need. People often think of PR as a way to reach potential customers but PR also helps attract talent. This strategy can be especially effective for companies looking for top-tier, sought-after talent (C-level executives, leading law school graduates, etc.). 


Define Success for Yourself

When a business owner sees a competitor launch a new campaign (or worse, sees that campaign promoted in the media), the knee-jerk reaction is often, “We should be doing that, too!” 

Well, not necessarily.

As you outline your PR goals, be sure to define what success will look like for you. Success for your company might look like: a certain number of press mentions, growing your social media audience by some percentage, or filling all open positions with high-quality talent. Getting clear on what a successful initiative looks like will help you stay focused on your own strategy rather than getting sidetracked by what competitors are doing.


Give the Process Time to Work

Public relations is the art of the long game, and returns on your PR investment usually take a few months to materialize and in some cases, longer. I recommend planning around one major theme or goal per quarter. 

Working quarterly gives your PR enough time to take root, and it builds in adequate time for you to plan and launch campaigns and events. Once you’ve begun to execute on a set PR goal, stick with it through the quarter. Shifting strategy midstream makes it tough to evaluate whether your efforts are moving the needle. 


Common PR Distractions

Setting and executing a tactical PR strategy is fairly straightforward: align your goals, define success, and stay the course. So why isn’t everyone doing it?

It’s easy to get distracted when executing a PR plan. Distractions lure you away from PR that’s aligned with your business goals, so be vigilant and avoid these common distractions:

  • “Shiny Object Syndrome.” It’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon of the newest, freshest trends and fads, prompting leaders to constantly change course.  
  • Internal problems. Leaders can easily be pulled into operational problems inside the company (employees, vendors, service delivery, etc.) that take time away from PR efforts. 
  • Paying too much attention to what competitors are doing. Your PR is specifically designed to support your business goals, so stay focused on what your company is doing.


When in doubt, stay the course and execute.


Case Study

We work with one of the Northeast’s leading processors and packagers of plant-based oils, that wanted to reach decision-makers in the food manufacturing industry with the goal of driving attention to a particular segment of their business. We spent a quarter identifying the right publications and set our sights on one that had the highest circulation. We helped the CEO craft a byline article that was so well received, he was asked to write a second one. And it didn’t stop there – he was also asked to present at the industry’s largest virtual conference last month and received great feedback and an invitation to appear on a podcast by another influencer as a result. By planning strategically, defining success based on this specific market segment, and working the plan, we were able to use their resources wisely, reach the right audience for this initiative and reap some impressive results. 

PR works best when it’s been carefully designed to support clearly defined business goals. If you’d like support aligning your annual planning strategy with meaningful PR efforts, reply to this email or contact me here.