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The Success of Your PR Campaign Depends on These 3 Essential Elements A successful PR campaign requires these three critical ingredients to ensure you're on the right path to success.

By Adam Horlock Edited by Maria Bailey

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A successful public relations (PR) campaign should be a consistent, audience-building machine that helps you reach your target audience while sharing a positive message about your brand. Getting media coverage is a great way to raise awareness for your company and can help you attract new investors or customers. Before you start sending out news releases and pitching story ideas to reporters, it's essential to take a step back and define what success looks like for your campaign.

Many entrepreneurs believe their business idea is so good that it should be in every media outlet. However, this is not a feasible or realistic goal. To have a successful PR campaign, you need to start with strategy and be realistic about what can be accomplished. You need to have messaging that goes beyond describing what problems your business solves. You need to explain why it matters. Additionally, you need to determine how you will measure success.

The best way to ensure a successful PR campaign is to bring on a trusted PR firm or PR expert to advise your company on the best steps. Beginning with a sound strategy, a PR advisor can map out realistic benchmarks and expectations, and they will have solid media connections to ensure a successful campaign.

Related: 4 Guiding Principles for Building and Deploying a Great PR Strategy

Strategy

When starting a new PR campaign, your company needs to reach the right audience and determine what action that audience takes upon hearing your message. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Boost sales of a specific product or service? Once you've determined your goal, you can start thinking about how best to measure success.

Identifying your target audience is another critical step. After all, there's no sense in reaching people who are not interested in what you do. When you know who you're trying to reach, you can create messaging that resonates with them and pitch story ideas that will capture their attention. You should also have a good idea of which media outlets will reach the most significant number of people in your target audience. A solid PR firm can help determine which publications will be best and likely has ties with them that ensure the timing of your message reaching readers lines up with your goals and overall strategy.

Your public relations strategy should focus on which journalists and media outlets are most likely to be interested in your story and will reach your target audience. Remember that PR is a long game — it's not just about getting one story placed in a top-tier publication. A well-executed PR campaign will secure multiple placements in targeted media outlets over time. This will increase your chances of reaching your target audience and achieving your desired business objectives.

Messaging

Secondly, what is the best approach for the story? Beyond describing what problems your business solves, do you have messaging explaining why it matters? Your message should be clear, concise and engaging enough that someone who knows nothing about your company will want to read more.

Your messaging should also address the following questions:

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • How are you going to help them?
  • Why should they care?

Answering these questions will help focus your PR efforts and ensure your message resonates with your target audience. Creating targeted messages for different audiences will make it easier for reporters and editors to understand how your company can fit into their stories.

Related: Why a Good Digital PR Strategy Is So Important

Evaluation

How do you determine success? Review your goals from the start of planning your PR campaign. Did you and your PR team or firm set goals or benchmarks for the number of media outlets that run your story? Or the quality of articles written about your business? While coverage in high-profile publications is always nice, it's not necessarily indicative of a successful PR campaign. Keep your overall strategy in mind and look to it to determine success.

You can use several different metrics, but the most important thing is to choose ones that align with your overall goal. For example, suppose you're trying to increase brand awareness. In that case, you might track social media mentions or the number of people who visit your website after seeing an article about your company. Or if boosting sales is your primary objective, then tracking conversion rates would be more appropriate. Once you've selected the metrics you'll use, make sure to establish baseline numbers so you can track progress over time.

A more effective way to measure success is by looking at whether or not your PR efforts are helping you achieve specific business objectives —such as generating leads, increasing web traffic, or boosting sales. Keep track of metrics such as web traffic referrals from media placements and conversion rates from press mentions to understand better how your PR campaigns are performing. This data can then be used to adjust future campaigns accordingly. If you don't have specific objectives before launching a PR campaign, it will be difficult to measure its success.

A successful PR campaign requires strategy, targeted messaging, and evaluation against specific objectives to be truly effective. A successful PR campaign depends on having clear goals, knowing your target audience, and choosing success measures that align with those goals. By planning your campaign strategy and defining what a successful campaign looks like upfront, you'll be in a much better position to achieve your desired results.

Adam Horlock

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Chief Operating Officer, Edit Media Consulting

Adam Horlock is the Chief Operating Officer for Edit Media Consulting. His agency offers PR, social media and business consulting services to brands nationally. He has made numerous media appearances and continues to be a resource for entrepreneurs nationwide.

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