Strategy is one of those words that are often bandied about, but how many businesses actually take the time to sit down and think their PR strategy through?

Here at Highlight, we’re often approached by businesses, large and small, keen to get their names in the press but unsure of how to go about doing it.

Often they’ve had a stab at writing a press release which hasn’t quite had the impact they were hoping for, or they’ve seen their competitors getting good coverage and want to know how they can get a piece of the action.

Good publicity is worth its weight in gold and an effective PR strategy is vital for success.  Most business owners are short on time, so getting it right first time is essential.

But where do you start?  We’ve put together a few pointers to help:

Get the groundwork done

To get the most out of your PR strategy, you need to get your house in order.  Is your business ready for publicity?  Are you able to handle an increase in demand for your product or service? Are your staff fully briefed to handle enquiries?

Define your PR goals

What are the objectives of your PR strategy in the short, medium and long term? How do you plan to measure success? Being clear on your goals from the off will save you both time and headaches in the long run.

Be ‘on message’

What are the key messages you want to get across to the media? What is unique about your business? What do you want press and customers to say and think about you? These key questions will help determine what messages to communicate to your audiences and add focus to your PR strategy.

Know your audience

Successful PR is about reaching the right people with your message at the right time.  Understanding your target audience is a must.  Who are your customers?  What publications (on and offline) do they read?  What social media channels are they active on?   What topics or issues interest them?

Do your homework

Research your target media before you contact them to get a good idea of what kinds of stories they cover.  Do the publications focus solely on news or do they cover more in-depth articles?  Make your message clear and concise and give journalists all the facts, figures and images they need.

Keep an eye on the competition

What are your competitors doing to promote their business?  Where is their coverage appearing?  By watching others, you can learn valuable lessons and adapt your PR strategy accordingly.

In a nutshell, an effective PR strategy is not about guesswork. It’s about rolling up your sleeves, doing your homework and having a carefully thought out plan. And that’s where a good PR agency can be invaluable, guiding you though the process.

PR is a long-term strategy – like anything that is worthwhile in life, it takes skill, time and effort.