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Public Relations

Developing a comprehensive strategy


Anyone who tells you that public relations cannot be directly linked to business goals—an increase in sales, interest from investors, butts in seats, happy shareholders or partners, etc.—is full of it. A public relations plan that begins with strong strategy can help you accomplish any type of business growth.

Public relations strategy is like having a playbook for your business; it makes certain all of the tactics work together to achieve your goals.

What your PR strategy should include

As a business owner, you know how important it is to take time to find the tree from the forest in the constant grind of keeping things afloat. I once read an article about Bill Gates going to his cabin for a week, by himself, to reflect on the business and think of creative ways to stay ahead of competition. In that same article it said he does a lot of reading, reflecting and drinking Orange Crush. I don’t have a cabin, nor can I leave for a week to do business strategy. But I love Orange Crush so I open some and think about business growth every Friday afternoon.

My point is, find a treat you love that is consistent, available and something to look forward to, block time on your calendar when no one can reach you, and think about your business objectives.

Do you have them written down? Good. How are you going to achieve them? Sure, you have your franchisor’s marketing program. You may even have some local marketing available. But how are you going to achieve your specific goals?

Here are some ideas:

• Publish a newsletter for your customers.

• Conduct a news conference if you’re opening a new location.

• Take a local reporter to lunch if you know he or she typically writes about your industry.

• Have 15- and 30-second messages that you talk about every time someone asks you about your franchise.

• Place ads in local newspapers and magazines.

• Look at what others are doing to be successful and think about how a similar program can work for you.

• Get involved with the community.

• Speak at events where your customers are; it might be church, PTA, Bunko, Junior League, or sports clubs, but think beyond your industry.

• Attend trade shows, speak on panels and talk to attending media.

• Think about consistent ways to communicate with your employees and management team.

Writing your public relations strategy

When I have a new employee begin who doesn’t have strategic experience, I explain the difference between objectives and strategies. Objectives are measurable and provide a benchmark for success at the end of each quarter and at the end of the year. Strategies are how you’re going to get there (the playbook!). And then I give them a list:

Strategy words:

• Develop • Launch • Provide

• Target • Acquire • Evolve

• Advance • Introduce • Initiate

• Grow • Change

Without fail, if someone new to strategy uses these words when writing a client’s communications plan, they inevitably get it right. Try it.

A little practice

Let’s say your objective is to fill 125 more seats during the lunch hour Monday through Friday. How are you going to do that? How will people know about your restaurant and that you’re open for lunch?

Start with your strategy words. For instance: Develop a “free appetizer with lunch” postcard targeted toward five surrounding ZIP codes. Or, target local restaurant critics and food reporters by sending them a prepared meal accompanied by recipes, nutrition information and restaurant location and lunch hours.

Make sense? Now write at least one strategy for each of your objectives. You can have more than one strategy per objective if it’s going to take more than one thing to achieve it. Once you’re finished, you’re ready to implement your strategy.

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