The elements that go into a great PR strategy has long been a well-kept secret. But now, all that is about to change!

Building a great PR strategy is key if you want to remain competitive within the PR space — by offering prospective clients great PR strategies, you'll become the preferred choice.

Here are 10 things that the best PR strategies have in common:

1. They support SMART goals 

Every heard of SMART goals? If not, you should have. They are goals that are:
  • Specific: Well defined, clear and unambiguous
  • Measurable: Within specific criteria, so you can track your progress
  • Attainable: Possible to achieve
  • Realistic: Within reach
  • Timely: Within a clearly defined time frame
A great PR strategy aims to achieve SMART goals rather than talking about its plans in vague terms. Strategies that aim to ‘generate visibility for a start-up’ or ‘position the MD as a thought leader’ do not allow a measurable plan of action.

Including SMART goals in your PR strategy will not only inspire confidence in your clients, but it will also show them that you have a plan and that you can prove when it has been achieved.

PR strategies that have fewer, specific objectives are always preferable to vague, sweeping ones.

2. They are actionable

A PR strategy is only as good as the execution behind it. Even the best plans are destined for failure when executed poorly.

The best PR strategies include clear, actionable objectives that will drive the plan to success. Your strategy is your road map of specific tactics chosen and tailored to suit your client’s goals.

While your core strategy may be to promote the client’s business by positioning them as industry experts, your PR strategy needs to include the media pitches, seminar opportunities and content plans to show off the client’s expertise.

PR strategies that include actionable plans will set you apart from your competitors.

3. They have an original message

Great PR strategies work to convey messages and stories that are completely original and fit the brand. You won’t find recycled content from a competitor or a generic boilerplate copy in any great PR messaging.

As with any key tactic in PR, messaging has to be reviewed regularly to reflect any changes or incorporate new developments into it.

PR strategies should convey a strong, original message that matches the brand.

4. They have a clear target audience

While your client should already know their customer profiles and understand their target audience, you — as the PR specialist — should understand the target audience of your strategy.

For example, if your client sells running shoes and you are trying to position them as thought leaders in the fitness world, your target audience will differ from your client’s buyer personas.

You’ll need to align your PR strategy’s SMART objectives with the correct audience if you want to see success. Your strategy will fall flat if your messages do not reach the right people. Once you know who it is you want to target with your strategy, you need to tailor your messaging to suit them while still embodying the client’s brand values.

A great PR strategy understands the target audience and knows how to speak to them.

5. They’re backed by data

PR isn’t just some one-way broadcast of information and stories, it’s a two-way street that responds to and persuades the right audience. In order to do the persuading part just right, it is vital to listen to what your audience is saying.

And to ensure that your PR messaging cuts through the noise and reaches your audience, it is imperative that you have done your research and know what to say, how to say it and when to say it.

The best PR strategies are informed by in-depth research and refined data.

6. They can be measured

Measurability should be high on the list of priorities when it comes to building your PR strategies. Including media monitoring or media analysis as part of your PR budget will ensure that you can easily show your clients how well your PR efforts have performed.

You’ll also be able to see how your campaigns are progressing and make any necessary changes if things aren’t performing as well as expected. When crafting your PR strategy, be sure to budget for a good media monitoring service that will show you all the PR coverage you have received, that analyses the coverage and that also alerts you if there is a crisis looming.

Good PR strategies have measurable objectives and can prove their worth.

7. They are appropriately budgeted

If your client has champagne tastes and a beer budget, you’re in trouble. The best PR professionals know how to ‘keep it real’ when it comes to telling clients what is possible within their budget.

Promising your client the world and not being able to deliver due to budget constraints will only leave them feeling disappointed.

The best PR strategies work with a predefined budget.

8. They work with marketing and communications strategies

While PR and marketing strategies often have different objectives, they should be working towards a single goal of bettering the brand.

No strategy can perform well if it exists in a silo — and any PR professional worth their salt knows that internal and external communication are the keys to successful PR. Having a holistic strategy in place with PR, marketing and communications working together will see each section working towards a universal goal.

Plus, having PR and marketing goals aligned will give consumers consistent messaging that is easily recognisable.

The best PR strategies complement the brand’s communications and marketing strategies, working together to achieve a shared goal.

9. They are adaptable

No matter how well you've planned, you always have to expect the unexpected. So when your PR strategy isn’t going the way you had hoped, you had better be ready to adjust it.

Good PR strategies are adaptable and can roll with the punches. If you are only prepared for things to go exactly as you planned them, you are destined for disaster.

A great PR strategy can change at a moment’s notice. Adaptability is key.

10. They are prepared for a crisis

If the worst should happen, is your PR strategy ready to do damage control?

Good PR professionals are always prepared for crisis mode and know that keeping an ear to the ground can often let you know if a crisis is looming. PR strategies should have a crisis plan in case the worst should happen — without it, you’ll be scrambling to deal with the crisis without any real guidance.

It pays to think through potentially damaging scenarios when building your PR strategy. That way, you can prepare a defensive strategy if disaster strikes. Quick access to a well-thought-out plan can often be the difference between surviving a PR crisis, and not.

The best PR strategies are prepared if a crisis should strike.

What other elements do you think go into a well-thought-out PR strategy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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PR is all about communication, and storytelling is an effective way to get people to really listen. Learn more in our article, Six lessons in storytelling for PR professionals.