I have spent the past year learning about Public Relations (PR), and the mandatory steps one needs to take to create a successful PR strategy. I am a passionate communicator, excited by new ideas and creativity. However, I constantly have to remind myself that there is more to PR than just good ideas, and catchy key messages.
When embarking on a new PR Strategy it is important to remember the RACE Formula, to avoid making some critical mistakes. What critical mistakes, you ask? Jumping to tactical ideas for a campaign before putting in the leg work of research and analysis (action). Was that a communal groan I just heard?!?! Yes, research and analysis(action) can be challenging, but it is the only way a PR professional like yourself will understand the basis and reasoning behind your campaign.
Let’s take a moment to review the 4 pillars of the RACE Formula:
1) Research: Every good PR strategy begins with some strong, solid research. By research, I don’t mean the first 3 websites that show up on a Google search. The goal is to find out as much external and internal information on the company as possible. Who are you targeting? What is the landscape of the market? What is the current public opinion?
2) Analysis (or Action): Once the research is done, you need to understand how you are going to put this information into action. This is where the goals and the objectives are stated, and the PR campaign starts to take shape.
3) Communicate: Yay! My favorite part. This is where the strategies and tactics are decided. The meat and potatoes, if you will. Just remember: strategies and tactics are different. Strategy is the plan of action to attain a goal, tactics are how you’re going to get there.
4) Evaluate: Measure the success of your hard work through evaluations of the campaign. The evaluation should be both quantitive and qualitative, and include recommendations for the future.
That’s it! Four easy steps to a successful PR campaign. Seems easy enough, right?! Wrong. Companies seem to struggle with this concept all the time.
Busting the ‘Block
Blockbuster is a prime example of a company that implemented tactics before doing the proper research. In 2003, Blockbuster came out with a campaign saying good-bye to late fees. I distinctly remember the campaign they rammed down our throats about the much awaited abolishment of the late fee. The problem was that there were late fees… sneaky ones. Economically, there idea was a bust. Plus, by the time they tried to salvage it, they were too late. Blockbuster failed to take into consideration companies like Netflix, and ended up losing their market share altogether.
So, use this tale as a precautionary one. Tactics before research is like putting on sunscreen for an indoor event. Useless. Be sure to follow the RACE Formula, and I’m confident you will find the success you are looking for.
What’s your favourite story of a PR Campaign gone awry?