Defining a PR strategy

PR is not the impenetrable science that many agencies would have you believe. It is possible to do your own PR, but first you need to be clear your goals

Defining a PR strategy can do wonders for your business. Earned media, as it’s called, is far more potent than any paid-for marketing campaign.

However, defining a PR strategy means more than just crafting a press release and firing it off.

What is the difference between PR and marketing?

Marketing is focused on promoting and selling products and services, while PR is focused on maintain a positive reputation for you and your small business as a whole.

5 steps to defining a PR strategy

Below we define five steps for defining a PR Strategy:

  • Set goals
  • Know your audience
  • Hone your message
  • Meet the media
  • Position yourself as an expert

#1 – Set goals

This is the most important bit. You won’t know if the PR has been successful if you don’t know what success looks like.

Your PR campaign should help you achieve your business goals: so, if you want to increase sales, the PR should help bring leads in; but if your goal is to raise finance, then the work you undertake should raise your profile to the investment community, communicating and enhancing the value of your business.

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#2 – Know your audience

It is vital to define whom you need to reach to achieve your goals. Once you have found your audience, you need to spend time getting to know them.

What will motivate them to act in the way you want them to? How do they want to hear about your news and information? How can you make your news interesting to them?

What is unique about you or your business that acts as a news hook for a story? What is timely about your business that coincides with the news agenda?

#3 – Hone your message

Once you know your goals and your audience, you are ready to get your message right. Your message is how you want to be known and seen externally and should be a blend of what you want to say and what your audience wants to hear.

To develop your message, you need to work out what is different about you and how you can describe and demonstrate that.

Your message can be ambitious and describe the kind of company you’d like to be, but it needs to be based on reality. You must try to achieve the tricky task of making your message aspirational yet truthful; anticipated yet different.

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#4 – Meet the media

Whether it’s traditional or social media, you need to understand the places that your audience goes to find out information.

Traditional media

If it’s traditional media then spend some time getting to know the top ten or twelve specialist publications and journalists in your sector, understand what they consider to be news and look for ways that they will write about you, even when you don’t have anything newsworthy.

Pro tip: Do not present journalists with a finished article and fire it broadly to every single journo in your database. Rather, hone your angle down to a single sentence and contact a handful of journalists to see if any bite. That way, you can rethink your approach before you go out again.

Social media

In many ways, social media – especially bloggers and influencers – can even be more beneficial than broad brush legacy media. Do your research into what are the most influential Twitter or Instagram accounts in your sector, follow them and start interacting – but take your time. Being too sales-y can be a turnoff.

#5 – Position yourself as an expert

Positioning yourself as an industry or sector expert can be one of the most useful things you can do when defining a PR strategy.

This could mean writing contributed thought-leadership pieces to a trade publication if you’re a B2B business or, even better, being interviewed in local or national press if you’re a consumer business. It’s about keeping your brand front of mind.

Another element is speaking on panels at trade shows – you never know what opportunity might present itself when you’re buttonholed at the end of the event.

Start your own podcast

Nowadays it seems that everybody has their own podcast. As of June 2022, there are over 2.4m podcasts with 384 million podcast listeners between them. No matter how niche the subject. Yet getting a podcast out there – interviewing people who are interesting to your customers – is a great way to raise your own profile and get your message out.

Write a business book

The days when you wrote a business book on spec, submitted it to an agent and hoped a publisher would pick it up are long gone. Today, self-publishing means that anybody can write and publish a book – which can be a great selling tool for you and your business, especially if you are positioning yourself as a pundit or expert speaker.

If you are not a natural writer, there is a plethora of ghost writers, editors and proofreaders who can help you and are available for hire on Reedsy.

Consultants especially use writing a book as a selling tool for booking their next speaking engagement or online course they’re planning.

Pinning down a PR campaign

Journalists use a time-honoured method for writing stories; you can do the same when deciding on a specific PR campaign.

  • Who: Who is your target audience and who in your team will be involved
  • What: Is this a new launch or a one-off event you are promoting? A celebration? Is there a timely element for a news desk?
  • When: What is the date of the event, launch, anniversary, etc
  • Why: What is it that you want to achieve? National publicity? Product mentions in social media? Reviews?
  • How: How are you getting the message out there? Email or DMs on social media?

Defining a PR strategy takes perseverance

Creating your own PR programme takes thought, time and perseverance, but almost any small or medium-sized business could do it in-house if they chose to.

Further reading

The importance of target audience personas and how to develop them

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of and from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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