Is your PR plan good enough (part one)?

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Stephen Waddington over at Ketchum mapped out the basic ingredients of a PR plan. Go and check his list of ingredients out, I thought I would dig into the subject area  in a bit more depth.

I have swapped around and amalgamated some of the elements that Stephen highlights in article.

When thinking about the process, I also wanted to consider how do you appraise quality of a PR plan?

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‘Building a house on granite, rather than sand’

The PR plan should be a collaborative effort between client and agency. Traditionally, the agency has taken a brief, gone away and come back with a plan – rather like Moses coming down from the mountain with the ten commandments carved in stone.

It makes sense to check in with the early stages at least. This check-in process ensures that there is not too much of a gap between client and agency thinking and prevents the plan having to be rewritten in a hurry. Each part of the plan stands on how well the previous section has been written.  A secondary reason of engaging the client is ensuring that they feel ownership and responsibility for plan, which will help on securing internal buy-in and organisation conviction in pursuing it with the right amount of resources.


How would you decide your objectives? Start with agreed business objectives. I find it amazing the degree of differing interpretations of what the business objectives that you can see when sitting down with different people in the same marketing team. It is worthwhile considering a third party to manage the ‘norming’ of business objectives in a workshop with the people who are either responsible, accountable or consulted with regards the implementation and success of the PR programme. People who fall under:

  • Responsible will be doing the work on the PR programme
  • Accountable will be those people who have the final sign-off on the activity
  • Consulted will be subject matter experts (legal team, regulatory team, brand guardianship, product or service experts). If the programme is marketing communications orientated  then third parties such as the agency responsible for  advertising media planning and creative ideas should be involved.

The responsibility assignment matrix is a great way for agencies to understand the client environment for a given project. RACI – responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. Informed people are the recipients of one-way communication when a project step has been completed.  Those being informed shouldn’t be demanding changes on a programme of activity. Understanding this helps focus the planning process and subsequent approvals process for content.

Once you have an agreed set interpretation of business objectives:

  • Define the stakeholders that you want to influence?
  • What is the behavioural change that you would need to see from the stakeholders in order to help achieve the business objectives?

From this should fall the way that you want the PR plan to contribute in the organisation achieving its business objectives.

Appraising the PR objectives:
  • How tightly do they map to the business objectives?
  • How tightly focused are they? I'd recommend three or less objectives to keep any activity focused. If there are more than three, reprioritise and focus the objectives to bring the  list down to three or less
  • Is there a 'tension' or 'mutually exclusive' element in the objectives? If so, then there needs to be a reprioritisation or complete rethink of objectives

You can read part two here which looks at measures and goals.  If you need assistance in developing a communications plan or want an existing plan thinking validated get in touch.

More information
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 three)?
Is your PR plan good enough (part two)?
Workbook for assessing your PR Plan