In part two, I looked at measurement and goals. In this section I am looking at Situation – this is where PR Smith grouped what Wadds called ‘Publics or Audience’, ‘Research’ and ‘Insights’.
Who are the stakeholders that PR is trying to influence in order to meet its objectives?
What data is there to draw upon?
Depending on the business category the client may have already done a lot of in-depth research defining and understanding the audience. Vigorous interrogation of the client organisation is a good first start.
If they have a good media budget it would be worthwhile getting hold of any media planning materials.
These usually define the audience, any insight that they have on an opportunity to drive the desired stakeholder behaviour.
Sales departments have field sales report data that can be combed through, interviews with field sales people who know existing customers can also be very useful.
- What are they like? (Age, gender, work life – part time / full time, personality traits, class, caste, education background, engagement with their alma mater)
- What are they concerned about? (Business issues, key product or service considerations, risk level and how they define risk)
- What topics are they interested in? (Wider business pain points, future opportunities such as deregulation or international markets, competitors / competitive tactics, channel changes within their business)
- What do they read? (Are there specific blogs or forums? What magazines do you notice around their office? What publications or articles have they referenced? Are there particular analyst houses that they cite?
What are competitors doing?
Again, the sales team and field sales report can be a good source of information, but do your desk research first.
What is being said about competitors?
It should go without saying but run the client brand through the same tests as the competitor brands.
- Google / DuckDuckGo / LexisNexis / Google Scholar / ScienceDirect – who is ranking what is the nature of the mentions?
- Social listening
- Social channel audit for client and competitors. Don’t forget to do LinkedIn, it’s data isn’t well represented in tools, it will have to be done manually.
- Content audit – what are they saying across channels, how does this differ from the client? How has their content changed? (I would recommend Archive.org’s Way Back machine to understand how they’ve changed). Meghan Casey’s book The Content Strategy toolkit provides access to some great templates that can be easily adapted for the process
Broader environmental analysis
There are various models for this PEST, PESTLE, STEEPLED etc. SWOT is the most basic framework that most people are familiar with.
All of this gets distilled down to insights. Insights give you something to hang a strategy around.
- Are there specific needs or passion points that the PR plan can engage with through activity?
- Do the insights present a picture of distinctive set of audiences?
- Is there a specific behaviour? Is it time-based?
- Are the insights more than something you could make as an assumption?
Appraising the audience definition, research and insights work in a PR plan
- How rigorous has the research been? Does it reflect the total knowledge of the client organisation?
- Are the audiences clearly defined? Everyone is not a definition?
- Are there audience segments that have different requirements?
- Are they distinct or do they suffer from ‘grey man’ syndrome? Do they blend into an amorphous mass or are there key concerns, worries or passion points that PR programmes can align with?
- Do you have a clear understanding of competitor strengths and weaknesses?
- Are there broader things that will affect the programme? If not, is there evidence that the possibility has at least been considered?
Is your PR plan good enough (part six)?
Is your PR plan good enough (part five)?
Is your PR plan good enough (part four)?
Is your PR plan good enough (part two)?
Is your PR plan good enough (part one)?
Workbook for assessing your PR Plan
The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right by Meghan Casey
PEST analysis on Wikipedia (also covers variants mentioned in this post)
SWOT analysis on Wikipedia
Stephen Waddington’s original post on ‘how to write a PR plan in ten steps’