PR planning – tips and tricks

PR planning – tips and tricks

Claire Walker

Claire Walker

You’ve got a great PR campaign idea and it’s very tempting to jump straight into the execution phase – the exciting bit. But, be careful.  Failing to allow time for detailed PR planning may be costly in the long run. This is a conundrum for lots of our clients, and even agencies – do you put aside enough time (and budget!) for planning before PR execution kicks off? Or do you want to see all of your budget and resources go directly into activities meant to generate results?

I’ve always been particularly keen to push through the importance of planning. I’ve jumped up at many a white board and flip chart to create the ‘planning vs. activity’ conundrum for numerous colleagues and clients over the years, in order to emphasise why planning is key is any PR strategy

This is a crude test, but in principle, what is the best approach – A, B or C?


A is tempting with a bit of thinking and lots of doing! It’s easy to feel like you’re achieving something when lots is ‘getting done’, but are you absolutely sure you’re doing the right things? This is classically when the plan says something vague and the team take off in their own directions.

B is balanced – equal thinking and doing. But the plan and the team efforts may not work together and may even conflict. There’s not enough pull back to the plan and goals, analyse best actions or a focus on what absolutely needs to be achieved.

The right answer is C. You should spend more time thinking and planning than doing. If you only do what you absolutely know will be successful, then you are guaranteed to achieve your goal (without wasting precious resources) – and you’ll spend less time doing all those irrelevant things. You might even get to go home on time!

A basic PR plan structure should include these key components:

  • Executive summary
  • Situational analysis
  • Assumptions, problems and consequences
  • PR/Campaign goal
  • Audience and messages
  • Objectives
  • Strategy
  • Tactics & deliverables
  • Schedule
  • Critical success factors
  • Budget
  • Evaluation
  • Reporting and administration
  • Team & responsibilities

The last word of caution. Too often we pile into writing a PR plan without any clarity and insight on the above basic points. Push and question to get clarity and leave no stone unturned when looking to understand the communication playing field. We have a thorough approach to exploring the wealth of information out there on you, your industry and your competitors. To read more about this, go to our Exhaustive insights = informed PR page.

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