7 Key Elements of Public Relations in 2024

Updated Sep 20, 2022.
Elements of Public Relations

For businesses to be successful, they need to have a good understanding of public relations. It helps to build relationships with customers and clients and allows businesses to communicate with their audiences more effectively.

However, the ever-changing digital landscape has made public relations more complex and challenging.

That's why we've created this guide about the seven key elements of public relations in 2022. By following these guidelines, you'll be able to create a successful PR campaign that will connect with your target audience and achieve your business objectives.

What is Public Relations?

Public Relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an organization and the public.

Public Relations can be used to promote a brand, product, or service. You can also use it to build relationships, communicate messages, or improve a company's or individual's reputation.

PR campaigns often include multiple activities and touchpoints, such as press releases, media relations, events, and marketing collateral.

Here are a few examples of when organizations might choose to launch a PR campaign:

  • To increase brand awareness: A technology brand might launch a PR campaign during a major industry event, such as CES; this can help the brand increase its visibility and awareness among potential customers.
  • To promote new products or services: A business might launch a PR campaign to generate buzz around a new product or service, which might include organizing events or conducting interviews with key members of the organization.
  • To improve reputation: A company embroiled in a scandal might launch a PR campaign to improve its public image by issuing public apologies or holding press conferences.
  • To announce changes in the organization: A business might launch a PR campaign to announce changes in the organization, such as a new CEO or product line. They might do this by issuing press releases, holding media events, or conducting interviews with key members of the organization.

There are seven essential elements you should consider when creating a PR campaign:

1. Define The Situation

First, you must step back and assess the current situation to understand the problem that you're trying to solve, your competition, and the current landscape.

When making a public announcement, there is no such thing as being too prepared. Your PR campaign has to be well-thought-out and strategic to create impact.

Even if you only have one announcement to make, it is still crucial to take the time to plan and organize your thoughts before addressing the public. After all, a well-executed announcement can make all the difference in whether or not your message is received loud and clear.

Understanding the problem

You can't resolve a problem if you don't fully understand it. This is where carrying out thorough research comes in. You can use desk research (secondary sources like books, articles, and reports) or primary research (surveys or interviews with your target audience) to understand the situation better.

You will also need to evaluate your brand. What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you've launched a similar PR campaign before, which strategies and tactics were a success or failure? Knowing this information will help you develop a more effective PR strategy.

If your PR campaign relates to a specific situation, ensure that you are fully aware of the context and any relevant background information. This will help you craft a more targeted message that resonates with your audience.

For example, imagine that your company is involved in a crisis around a controversial product launch. In this situation, you must be aware of the product's history, past controversies, and current public sentiment. This information will help you develop an effective strategy for addressing the crisis.

Understanding your competition

One of the essential elements of PR is understanding your competition. What are they doing right? What could they be doing better? How can you differentiate your brand from theirs?

Evaluating your competition will help you develop a unique PR strategy that will give you an advantage in the marketplace.

For instance, when you are launching a new product, you will need to be aware of the other products on the market. What are their key features? How do they compare to your product?

You can also use PR to influence your competition directly through various tactics, such as issuing a press release that compares your product favorably to theirs or issuing a negative ad that criticizes their product.

However, you need to be careful with this approach. If your competition responds negatively, it could escalate into a PR crisis.

Understanding the current landscape

You need to understand the current media landscape to succeed in your PR campaign. This includes understanding the different types of media (traditional, digital, and social) and the different channels (TV, radio, print, etc.).

You also need to understand how each type of media works and how to use it effectively. Who are the key influencers in your industry? What type of content do they consume and share? Knowing this information will help you develop relationships with the right media outlets and influencers.

For example, if you’re using social media, you need to understand how to craft a compelling message for your social media posts that will capture attention and drive engagement.

If you’re trying to reach millennial women, you might want to focus your PR efforts on Instagram and YouTube.

But if you're trying to reach business decision-makers, you might want to focus on LinkedIn and trade publications.

You also need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the PR industry. This includes changes in the media landscape and new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and platforms you can use to amplify your message.

You can ensure that your PR campaigns use the most effective strategies and tactics by staying up-to-date on the latest trends.

Once you understand the situation well, you can start to create objectives and goals for your campaign.

Benefits of Public Relations
Source: PRLab

2. Define Your Objectives

Defining your objectives is an essential element of planning a successful public relations campaign. By taking the time to identify what you want to achieve, you'll be able to create a more relevant and effective PR strategy that will help you reach your goals.

Things you should consider when setting your objectives are:

  • Do you want to increase brand awareness, build relationships, or drive sales?
  • What are your brand's core values?
  • What message do you want to communicate?
  • What tone of voice will you use?
  • What are your timeline constraints?

Setting SMART goals

One of the essential elements of this stage is that your objectives should be SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Having well-defined objectives from the start will give you a clear path to follow, the ability to measure your campaign's success, and ensure that you're on track to achieve your goals.

Some examples of SMART objectives for a PR campaign might be:

  • Increase brand awareness by X% among target consumers within the next six months
  • Drive Y sales within the next quarter through targeted public relations and marketing initiatives
  • Build relationships with key media outlets in our industry to secure X number of placements by the end of the year
  • Stay ahead of the competition by generating X% more positive media coverage than our competitors over the next 12 months.

Once you've defined your objectives, you must determine your target audience. This will be essential in creating your public relations campaign strategy and determining the tactics you'll use to achieve them.

3. Define Your Target Audience

Target audiences can be internal (employees, shareholders) or external (consumers, the media). You need to think about what you want your audience to do as a result of your PR campaign.

Some factors to consider when defining your target audience:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Occupation
  • Interests/hobbies
Buyer Persona - Starter Questions
Source: Aweber

The better you understand your target audience, the more likely it is for your PR campaign to reach them and accomplish the objectives you've set.

For example, you might want your PR campaign to connect with young adults aged 18-24 who live in urban areas and are interested in technology. Or, you might want to target small business owners in your local community with less than 50 employees and who are seeking investment.

Your PR campaign should never be one-size-fits-all. By tailoring your message and approach to a specific audience, you're much more likely to achieve success.

4. Define Your PR Strategy

Now it's time to start developing your PR strategy and how you will achieve your objectives. This includes deciding on the key messages you want to communicate, the channels you'll use to reach your target audience, and the tactics you'll employ.

Remember that your PR strategy should align with your business goals. A few steps you can take when defining your strategy are:

Brainstorm your campaign

Now that you've set your campaign objectives, you can start brainstorming ideas for your campaign. Get creative and come up with the overall concept for your PR effort.

Your campaign should be designed to capture the attention of your target audience and communicate the key messages you want to deliver. To do this, you'll need to develop a catchy headline or angle that will grab attention and make people want to learn more.

Things to consider when planning your campaign:

  1. What's your message?
  2. What's newsworthy about your story?
  3. How can you make your story unique?
  4. What are the human interest elements of your story?
  5. Who are the key spokespeople for your campaign?
  6. What visual elements can you include to make your story more engaging?
  7. Which platforms or media outlets will you target?

Find a creative angle

Finding a creative angle is one of the most important elements of creating a strategy that will grab the media's attention and target audiences, make your PR campaign newsworthy, and help it stand out from the competition.

Your angle should be unique to your brand or product, making your target audience want to discover more. Remember that what is interesting or newsworthy to one group of people may not be the same for another.

For example, if you're launching a new fitness app, you might focus your angle on how it helps people reach their fitness goals. However, if you're targeting senior citizens, your angle might instead be how your app helps them stay active and independent.

It's important to brainstorm different angles for your story before settling on one. When you've identified your angle, you will need to start developing your key messages around it.

Develop Your Key Messages

After you've developed a general idea for your campaign, it's time to start developing your key messages. You want your target audience to remember these statements after they've heard or read about your story.

Your messaging should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. They should also be consistent across all of your communications channels.

When crafting your key messages, ask:

  • What are the most important points that you want to communicate?
  • What benefit will your target audience get from hearing your message?
  • How can you make your message memorable?
  • Is your message timely and relevant?

Decide on a timeline for your PR campaign

Your PR campaign should have a start and end date to help you stay on track and ensure that your efforts are focused and results-oriented.

Your timeline will also depend on the overall goals of your campaign and will impact what tactics you ultimately use. For example, if you're looking to generate media coverage in a short period, like during the summer, you'll probably want to focus on pitching stories to reporters and influencers.

If you're aiming to build relationships with key stakeholders in your industry over a longer period, you might want to consider tactics like events and thought leadership pieces.

It's also important to ensure that your PR campaign is timely and relevant to what's happening worldwide. Staying up-to-date on current events and trends will help you create content that is both timely and interesting to your target audiences.

For example, if you're launching a new range of products for the Christmas season, you'll want to ensure that your PR campaign aligns with any relevant trends in the market. There's no use pitching a story about your future summer range if it's not something that will capture the interest of the media or your target audience.

Set a timeline for your press release distribution
Source: Mynewsdesk

Check Your Idea

Run your strategy and ideas by a colleague, another team in your business, or a PR professional to get their feedback. They may be able to refine your ideas or identify any potential problems with your approach.

It's always better to catch problems early on so that you can make any necessary changes before you start executing your campaign.

Build Relationships with Journalists

Public Relations is a long-term game, so there's no better time than now to start reaching out to journalists. Successful companies have established relationships with journalists who cover similar industries.

Instead of sending your story to a generic news desk, find the names of journalists who most often write about topics related to your industry. Email them or call and introduce yourself so you can start building a relationship. You can use Twitter to find and connect with relevant journalists.

Now that you've brainstormed some ideas for your campaign, decided on your key messages and timeline, and double-checked your ideas, it's time to start putting together your plan.

This is where you'll decide on tactics to execute your campaign and achieve your objectives.

5. Define Your PR Campaign

Your PR campaign should include a mix of traditional and digital tactics.

What are PR tactics?

Public relations tactics are the specific activities that you'll undertake to execute your PR strategy. They can be anything from writing a press release to holding an event.

Some common PR tactics include:

  • Media Relations: Pitching stories to journalists, setting up media interviews, and sending press releases
  • Thought leadership: Writing opinion pieces, blog posts, and whitepapers
  • Events: Hosting or attending events, trade shows, and conferences
  • Social media: Creating and sharing content on social media platforms
  • Digital PR: Crafting online newsrooms, conducting influencer outreach, and using SEO to improve visibility

Which tactics you ultimately use will depend on your specific goals and objectives. You'll also need to consider the resources that you have available, as some tactics can be more time-consuming or expensive than others.

Once you've decided on the tactics that you'll use, it's time to start putting together your PR plan.

Create a PR Plan

Your PR plan is a document that outlines your entire campaign from start to finish. It should include all important details, such as your objectives, key messages, target audiences, tactics, and timeline.

A PR plan will help you stay organized and on track during your campaign. It will help you identify potential obstacles and plan how to overcome them. And it will ensure that everyone on your team is aware of the goals and objectives of the campaign.

The PR plan will also help you see how your campaign works alongside other marketing or initiatives in your business. For example, if you're launching a new product, your PR campaign can help support that launch by generating awareness and excitement around the product and your brand.

If you're unsure where to start, several templates and guides are available online to help you create a PR plan.

Create the content

After you have your PR plan in place, it's time to start creating the content that you will use in your campaign.

When creating your content, ensure it aligns with your overall PR plan. Your strategies and tactics should support your objectives and key messages. And it should be targeted at your desired audience.

Your content can take many forms, such as press releases, social media posts, blog posts, articles, infographics, videos, and more. The important thing is that it's engaging and shareable.

Distribute your content

The next phase is implementation now that you have your PR plan and creative angle. You will need to distribute content to the media and your target audience across social media platforms.

It's important to ensure you've carried out thorough research to understand where your target audience spends their time online and offline. That way, you can ensure that your content is distributed to the right places.

For instance, if you're trying to generate media coverage for a product launch, you'll need to send your press release to relevant journalists and influencers. If you're trying to raise awareness among your customers, you might want to run a marketing campaign across various platforms, like TV, your website, and your email list.

You'll also want to plan how you pitch your story to the media. Make a list of the key points you want to get across and finalize your pitch before reaching out.

Remember that media publication won't happen overnight. It might take weeks or even months to get your story published. But if you stay persistent and keep trying, you eventually could get the exposure you want to achieve.

If you don't have any success with pitching to media outlets, your story might not be newsworthy enough. In that case, try repurposing your content in other ways. For instance, you could turn a blog post into an infographic or create a video series from a series of articles on your website.

6. Define the Budget

One of the key elements in a public relations campaign is defining how much you can realistically afford to spend on publicity.

Set a budget

Public relations is an important investment, but it should not break the bank. Understanding how much you can spend will help you set realistic goals for your campaign.

Perhaps you want to launch a major PR campaign for a marketing initiative, or you're just looking to start a small-scale program.

Knowing how much you can spend will help you determine the best course of action. If you have a limited budget, you might want to focus on digital PR tactics like influencer outreach or social media marketing. If you have a larger budget, you could hire a Public Relations firm to manage your campaign from start to finish.

7. Measure Your PR Results

After your PR campaign has finished, measuring the results against your original goals is important to help you evaluate what worked well and where you can improve for future campaigns.

It's critical to have measurable goals in place from the start. That way, you can track your progress and see how successful your campaign has been.

Analyze key metrics

There are many metrics that you might want to track, these include:

  • Website traffic: refers to the number of visitors to your website. If your goal is to increase brand awareness, track the number of people who visit your website or sign up for your newsletter.
  • Press mentions: this is the number of times your brand is mentioned in articles, blog posts, videos, or any other type of coverage, and is a good metric to track brand awareness and sentiment. You should record where each piece was published and how many people it reached.
  • Social media engagement: this could include how many likes, shares, and comments you receive on your posts across social media platforms. You could also look at the amount of new followers you gain during your campaign.
  • Sales or conversions: the volume of conversions generated from your campaign. If you're looking to boost sales, track the number of products sold during your campaign.
  • Leads: the number of leads generated from your campaign. Website traffic is a good metric to track if your goal is to generate leads.

If you're working with a public relations firm, they should be able to provide you with regular reports on your progress.

Take the time to analyze your data and identify areas where you can improve. Perhaps you need to adjust your content strategy or change how you pitch your story to the media. Whatever the case may be, use your findings to inform your future PR campaigns.

Understanding your results will help you fine-tune your PR strategy and ensure you get the most out of your campaigns. Public relations is an important part of any business, so it's essential to ensure you do everything you can to get the best results.

7 Principles for how we measure PR
Source: Axia PR

The industry standard for measuring PR campaigns was first put into place in 2010 with the release of these guidelines created by a group of PR experts. Known as the Barcelona Principles, they have become the industry standard due to their effectiveness and practicality.

The seven key elements we've outlined in this article should help you create a successful PR campaign that meets your goals and objectives. Whether you're just getting started with public relations or you're looking to improve your current strategy, these tips will help you achieve success.

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Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.