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Boost Your Organization’s Impact with a Successful PR Strategy: A Guide for Purpose-Driven Businesses

If your organization is doing important work and making the world a better place, you should prioritize PR strategy. By sharing your stories and expertise, you’ll increase awareness of who you are and what you do, boost your credibility and reputation, gain influence, and ultimately, make a greater impact. After all, isn’t helping more people and doing more good the point?

READ: The 5 Love Languages of Marketing

While there are many benefits that come from executing a PR strategy, businesses often get overwhelmed and stuck not knowing where to start. This can lead to either paralysis and not doing anything, or to an ad hoc approach of sending a press release one time and declaring “We tried PR. It didn’t work for us.”

Sure, there’s always low-hanging fruit and easy wins to be had. But if you want to see sustained PR success, you must get clear about what success actually looks like (beyond media hits) and then develop a plan to get you there. Take the time to think about how you expect PR to support your organization’s goals and commit to a handful of actions you’ll execute on a regular, ongoing basis. Even small efforts can help increase awareness and amplify your message. Following these steps and starting with manageable ideas is the best way to get results. 

Set goals

First things first, you must clearly articulate why you want to do PR.

How will PR support the organization and its goals? Perhaps it’s a priority to build your donor base, increase engagement on social media, or grow the number of people served this year. Goals could be sales/fundraising-related or focused on expanding an audience. 

When thinking about goals, you should have some way to measure results.

How will you determine if goals have been reached without a way to measure them? Some measurable results are simple, like increasing sales by 10%. When goals are more complex, think of measurable options that relate to the goals. If a goal is to build awareness, consider a measurable target of increased newsletter signups or inbound leads. 

Create a plan

While this is often the most daunting step, it’s also the most important one. This will help determine priorities, audiences, outreach, and where to allocate time and budget. The plan should evolve from the business goals to establishing PR objectives and how to achieve them.

Developing a SWOT analysis — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — will provide context and rationale for your plan. This analysis will help identify factors that impact the business both internally and externally and often will generate ideas that can be part your PR strategy. 

Then identify the target audience, which could vary depending on the goal.

Certain audiences may be end-users, clients, or donors and others may be partly related to sales or manufacturing. Think about the way these audiences receive their information, such as industry-specific publications, social media channels, or podcasts. 

READ: Determining Your Business’s Target Market – Why It’s Necessary and How To Do It

Next, determine your objectives – ways to reach these audiences.

This could include getting media coverage, earning awards, or generating positive social media awareness. Start with ideas that are small, manageable, and achievable. 

Finally, think about which messages you want to share with these audiences.

Which stories or expertise can you share that will educate, entertain, or inspire your audience? Your message must help your audience in some way. If the message isn’t meaningful, the odds of generating interest and getting them to act are low. 

Implement the strategy

When the goals and objectives are complete with appropriate messages to target audiences, the plan is nearly ready to be implemented. The last step is to create a PR calendar.

Create a calendar detailing planned business announcements, initiatives and campaigns; relevant holidays, observances and seasonal trends; upcoming editorial, speaking and award opportunities. For PR programs to be successful, you’ll need to be organized and prepared to meet editorial, event organizer, and award deadlines.

When to ask for help

While some PR objectives can be achieved without a professional, sometimes it’s wise to employ an expert firm or consultant. It may be worth outsourcing if your time is limited and your plate is already full. Implementing a PR plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require dedicated time each week and consistent effort. If a plan isn’t successful immediately, keep at it. It’s said that PR is a marathon, not a sprint; often a little momentum is all you need to see results and notice an impact.

 

Rhiannon Hendrickson is a senior PR strategist and founder of Orapin, giving purpose-driven organizations the plan, materials, and support they need to increase awareness and expand their impact.