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4 Ways to Manage PR Campaigns

Jeremy Moser is Co-Founder and CEO of uSERP, a digital brand-building agency. His work has been featured on HubSpot, Foundr, G2 Crowd, Drift, SEJ, Codeless, Shopify Enterprise, BigCommerce, Nimble, Keap, and many more.

Managing a business’ reputation is challenging—it’s hard to measure, constantly changing, and influenced by many factors. All this makes the job of actively managing reputation with PR campaigns a tricky task indeed. 

Luckily, there are time-honored strategies and an innovative new set of digital tools that can help make managing PR campaigns easier and more efficient than it’s ever been. 

Read on, and we’ll show you how! 😃

What makes a PR campaign successful?

Unlike what you might have imagined, there is no one trick or secret that can guarantee a successful PR campaign.

It takes a lot of factors working together harmoniously in order for a PR campaign to succeed.

These include a touch of creativity, a dash of strategic direction, a whole lot of planning, and a generous helping of good business process management.

But let’s look at the question again: what makes a PR campaign successful?

The keyword here is successful, as you’re performing this exercise in order to achieve the desired outcome with your business’ reputation.

So, while it’s not the big secret you might be hoping for, setting the conditions for what would make the campaign ‘successful’ is a great place to start

But that’s not all. The practice of public relations is constantly adapting and evolving, and there are some interesting approaches to consider in order to boost the effectiveness of your next campaign. 

So, let’s get down to it. Here are five ways to manage PR campaigns based on the latest real-world examples. 

Related: Check out these Press Release Templates!

1. Take an objective-driven approach

In keeping with our earlier suggestion, the first and probably most important element of managing a successful PR campaign is setting some solid objectives. 

And there are several levels to objective-setting you should pay attention to. 

The first relates to our earlier question: what would make this PR campaign successful?

This is your goal; the single, overarching thing you want to achieve as a result of the campaign. PR campaign goals are large in scope and serve the needs of the entire business beyond just the marketing department. They’re also lofty and ambitious. 

An example could be: ‘make our brand the most recognized name in our niche.’

PR campaigns are expensive, complicated, and risky. So don’t take that plunge without a clear goal in mind that justifies the headache. 

With your PR campaign goal set, it’s time to take a look at objectives. These are distinct from goals in that they’re more specific and practically oriented. They’re designed to inform the strategic actions you need to take. 

Following the previous example, a set of objectives relating to this goal could be:

  • Increase brand name mentions on social media by 40% in Q4
  • Climb from #4 to #1 in the search engine rankings for our niche keyphrase over the next two years
  • Feature in all major industry publications by the end of the year

Notice something about these objectives? Anyone who went to business school has probably already clocked it. Yep, these objectives are SMART.

For the uninitiated, SMART is an acronym that lays out the necessary components of a great objective — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. 

SMART Goals via Tallyfy
via Tallyfy

Let this wisdom guide you as you set some killer objectives for your PR campaign goal. 

Take student resource-sharing company StuDocu, for example. After their success in raising $50 million in funding to serve a global audience, they needed to get the word out in a way that matched their global ambitions. 

So they ran a PR campaign with a clear goal: inform the global community about the funding round. 

PR campaign image via Studocu
via Studocu

As a result, they were able to set a path towards their goal with a coordinated campaign that crossed borders, reaching multiple key industry publications across the globe, all in different languages. 

Another clear example is StackBrowser, an immersive internet browser with collaboration at its core. After a round of major updates, including M1 support and many other features, they conducted a PR campaign to ensure they were ahead of the curve. 

The result was successful exposure by participating in events such as MWC in Barcelona & getting featured on TechCrunch’s favorite companies from 500Startups Demo Day.

via Twitter Stack HQ
via Twitter/Stack

2. Set a target audience and let them shape your messaging 

A wise next step would be to clarify your target audience with a clear goal and several goal-related SMART objectives set. 

But first, consider why target audiences are so important to any marketing exercise in the first place. 

Defining a target audience will help you maximize the returns (reach, awareness, engagement) of your spending. 

Ideally, your target audience will be an intersection between the people you’re trying to influence and the people most likely to engage with your content for the most efficient use of your spending. 

The practice of audience and market segmentation, where you divide your target market into smaller groups that share similar characteristics, is relevant here. 

First, there’s already a built-in audience there for the thing you’re promoting—whether it’s a company, an individual, or a product. And it’s the same one the marketing department aims their activities toward. 

So use that as your initial target audience base. Then, reconsider your PR campaign goal. This will give you direction in choosing other potential audiences that may be worth targeting. 

Let’s take a look at how marketing and PR SaaS companies would potentially segment their market for example.

They might have the PR goal: communicate the comparative value of our service over premium competitors. 

If they’re in the content creation niche, the built-in audience are marketers, bloggers,  photographers, designers, and artists, as that’s who the service aims to serve. 

But, when we remember our goal of communicating the value of the service, we have another element to consider in our audience segmentation—frugality and value-oriented consumers. 

While the target market as a whole would take interest in a free online photo editor to customize their images and campaigns, how they use the tool and how the message should be delivered will vary among these individuals.

Related: Marketing campaign management

Market segmentation via CChampman Designs
via cchampmandesigns

This gives us laser clarity on shaping our messaging and could even influence placement decisions. The better you understand who you’re targeting, the better your creative team will be at crafting an effective message. 

A great case of communicating the value of the service is how Reliable Couriers, a same-day courier service, market the value of being able to have a trustworthy service deliver whatever you need on the same day. 

Image via Reliable Couriers
via Reliable Couriers

3. Plan and map your campaign digitally

I might be preaching to the choir here if you’re a fresh-faced, up-and-coming PR whizz.

But the PR professionals among you of a more mature ilk might not be aware of the insane power of a marketing project management software in designing, managing, and carrying out a PR campaign efficiently. 

Project management software is a powerhouse for PR activities, thanks to a suite of tools that make the top-level management and practical implementation sides of things super clear and accessible. 

It’s essentially a digital ‘home’ for any productivity-based project. 

It uses several modular digital elements to allow the user to design workflows that map out the entire project, from teams and responsibilities to objectives and tasks and sub-tasks to results. 

A project management software like ClickUp can help organize your campaign according to its specific needs in ways that make sense to your organization. Create Spaces to map out campaign teams, Tasks to assign work, Docs to share production elements, and more. 

ClickUp views
via ClickUp

With everyone on board, the technology integrates its various moving parts to let people know what needs to be done and when. 

PR projects tend to pull in every department from a business to inform their campaign and often use out-of-house contractors for the creative elements, like graphic designers and copywriters. That’s too many people to manage with just phone calls. 

PM software brings those complicated elements together in beautiful harmony.

For example, uSERP, an SEO and link-building agency, uses ClickUp to plan, track, and manage our content and deliverables. 

They use the calendar feature to organize their production pipeline, a contact database to store and manage journalists for content placement, and Docs to share things like copy drafts, mockups, and assets such as vector graphics

Your PR campaign would be disorganized and unsystematic without a digital space to link all the pieces together. 

4. Unleash your measurement tools

Ok, so you’ve set the stage for a really great PR campaign. Hooray! 🥳

Your objectives are aligned, your target audience is clear, and your PR campaign has a digital home. 

But your campaign launch isn’t the end. Like a perfect circle, the launch of the campaign should prompt you to address the question we started with — what makes a PR campaign successful?

Now that your campaign is live and you know what conditions need to be met in order to achieve success, it’s time to start measuring

Go back to your goal and objectives

Use the time-horizon set, metrics identified, and data gathered from the campaign to determine to what extent you achieved your key objectives. 

This can either be a really great experience that makes you look like a PR legend in the making… or not. Either way, you win or you learn. 

Identify your biggest successes and failures and try to figure out the root cause. This data, used appropriately, could be hugely influential on your success in managing PR campaigns in the future. 

In a game like PR, success is never guaranteed. You’re dealing with many people who have no reason to act favorably to your content and messaging. Additionally, the effectiveness of your messaging is reliant to a certain extent on creativity and originality, which is hard to bottle and measure.

Start organizing and managing PR campaigns with ease

Look at that—we did it. 

From thin air, we’ve developed the basis for managing the untamable beast of a PR campaign with ease, efficiency, and hopefully a lot of success. 

Of course, it takes talent, a lot of PR know-how, and hard work to wrangle an effective PR campaign together. 

The rest is essentially admin. So, if you rely on the trusty foundations of objective-setting, knowing your audience, planning, and measurement, I’ve got no doubt your PR campaign is going to be a huge success. 

You’ve got this!

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