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Making PR Work

Is your PR not doing its job? Perhaps it's time to revisit your strategy.
June 17, 2002

Q: Although I've invested a lot of time and money, I'm not sure if my PR strategy is really working. How do you suggest I evaluate its effectiveness?

A: Troubleshooting PR is almost the reverse of planning your PR. Think of all those things you would do in a public relations campaign and see what's working and what's not. Once you understand these components, they can be isolated, changed if necessary and then retested for contribution significance.

Usually when you feel that PR is not providing results-or at least the results you had hoped for-it's due to one of four primary components. The four components to isolate, analyze, fix and test are as follows:

Putting yourself in front of a potential buyer is the key to marketing and selling. No potential buyers? No selling. The right target audience might be the right segment, the right niche within a segment or the right people within a niche. If you are marketing to banks, are you targeting the bank president or the branch manager? If you're marketing to manufacturers, are you marketing to the operations department or the purchasing department? From a PR point of view, this means targeting the right publications. What do your prospects and customers read? Where are they most likely to see you? What media do they pay attention to? All this has to do with having the right target audience for your marketing. Just as a side note, don't forget about current customers as part of your target audience. Even breaking up current customer segments into different targets may be more effective for your marketing. Find the people to populate the forest and let the trees fall.

If all the above is in order and deemed to be effective, don't fix anything. If all the above is in order and PR is still not being effective, then you need to revisit your overall marketing strategy. Hopefully, before any campaign, you have strategically evaluated your product, distribution, pricing, promotion and advertising. Troubleshooting means not only trying to find out what the problem is, but also what the problem is not. With these four components outlined, you can differentiate what's working and what's not and increase the probability of a more successful PR campaign.

Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at and, or e-mail him at

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.