6 Steps to Creating an Effective PR Timeline
And how an effective PR Timeline can transform your campaign
Throughout the lifetime of your business you will need more than a few public relations campaigns, and the best campaigns have strategic PR timelines to help ensure success.
Without a proper timeline, your efforts will fall short. A effective PR timeline sets goals, accounts for time and money, and above all, is realistic.
Some of the reasons you may need a public relations campaign:
- Create public awareness of your company, its products and services
- Attract more publicity and positive news coverage
- Seek exposure for an event, partnership, product or program
- Help establish your company and/or CEO as a thought-leader
- Create good feelings about your brand among your target audiences
- Help combat negative publicity
Laying the Groundwork
Before beginning a campaign and setting a PR timeline, it’s important to set goals. Goals are as crucial to success, and so are the right people to implement them. When setting goals:
- Remember to be as specific as possible
- Make sure that your plans fit in with your company’s overall plan
- Your goals and overall campaign should correspond with brand efforts in sales and marketing
Pro-Tip: Ask yourself what you hope to achieve from the onset. Something like, “we want to generate more sales” is a worthy goal, but a more focused goal of “improve our community standing by holding a free blood pressure screenings” may be more measurable and will also work towards improving sales.
Also, what will your company consider success? Make sure have tools in place for measurement before you launch. More social media engagement? More sales leads? More speaking engagements for the CEO? How will you measure success?
One of the most crucial aspects of planning a campaign is to make sure your goals are achievable. Setting unrealistic goals is a waste of time and money and it’s terrible for company culture.
For example: Let’s say you set a goal of increasing news coverage for your brand. That’s great! But saying that you will have at least 1 story about your business a week in the New Yorker is not realistic. Don’t set your people up for failure.
Look to the Past
It is useful to look at prior campaigns. What worked? What didn’t? What did you like? Do you need professional guidance? All of these factors should be considered before moving ahead with a PR timeline.
Setting a PR Timeline
A good PR timeline is an outline of your campaign from start to finish, including prep work and a post mortem. Remember, you have to allow enough time to properly achieve your objectives. A good timeline will include the following:
- Planning: Goals, be specific.
- Staff: How many dedicated people? What are they being pulled from in the company and for how long? Who’s the project leader?
- Materials: Booths for a health fair? Judges for a cook-off? Partners for a community event?
- Messaging: The message must sound like it comes from your brand. Who is the voice? Where will the messages go (social media, print, radio, etc.)?
- Monitoring: How will you team leader communicate the results of each step? How will they keep an eye on the moving parts?
- Evaluation: Your post-mortem; what worked? What didn’t? Was the overall goal achieved?
Without the specifics of the goals it’s impossible for anyone to tell you how long a PR timeline should be. The end goal determines the priorities of everything else, but a good timeline will include what it outlined above.
If you need professional help, ask for it, especially if it’s a major campaign! Don’t fall on your face publicly and need a PR campaign to rescue you from avoidable missteps.