By: Liz Hilton

In public relations, the development of effective strategies is key to the success of any campaign. So why are strategies so important? Strategies guide the specific tactics used to achieve the overall campaign goals. In “How to … Draft a Public Relations Strategy,” Joanne Barnett lists essential questions public relations strategies must address:

  • Whom are you talking to?
  • What do you want your target audience to do and why?
  • What are the key messages?
  • What platforms/ channels will you use?
  • When will you reach out?
  • What methods are best?
  • What is the budget?
  • How will you handle problems?
  • Evaluation: “How well did you do?”

Every client differs in the type of strategies needed to effectively communicate its key messaging. Such strategy types include media, communications and action strategies or the combination of one or more of these elements to ensure client need is met.  To achieve Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana’s (CASOL)  goal of increasing donations, Elevate is specifically utilizing communications strategies to clearly communicate with key audiences how that the organization is solely responsible for raising all of its funding.  

Prior to establishing strategies, it is important to note the difference between a public relations strategy versus a tactic. Both concepts are interrelated, but a strategy is far more generalizable whereas a tactic is very specific.  PRNewswer’s article, “What’s the Difference Between ‘Strategy ‘ and  ‘Tactic?,”’ explains that a strategy is the “why” to a campaign and the tactics are “how” it will be implemented. Basically, tactics are the specific actions used to achieve the overall plan or strategy. It is vital to understand the difference in these concepts in order to create effective strategies and not just random, undeveloped actions.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 10.29.20 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 9.33.12 PM

Photos accredited to PRNewser “What’s the Difference Between ‘Strategy’ and  ‘Tactic’”: http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/whats-the-difference-between-strategy-and-tactic/100447

Although there are several steps to strategy development, one key component is to ensure the strategies address key audiences. As Peter Panepento points out in Developing a Modern Public Relations Strategy,” rather than rely on media material to disseminate messaging “Today’s nonprofit communications teams should instead be thinking about how they can be speaking to the people they most want to reach — whether those people are reporters, potential donors, or activists.”  

So In order to create effective strategies, Elevate must consider CASOL’s target audience and tailor messaging specifically towards them. To do this, the Elevate team created “Maggie,” as the visual representation of this audience. By utilizing a tangible image, Elevate developed effective strategies for this group and is consistently reminded of who the firm was trying to reach. Maggie is a mother of two, age 25-50 with a bachelor’s degree and religious background, living in the capital area with a household income of $45,000 or more.

                      Maggie1             

Image attributed to Jasper Cicero: https://elevatecomm.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/visual-communication-in-pr-research-casol-infographic/

Since CASOL’s audiences are unaware of how the organization receives funding, Elevate intends to utilize communications strategies to establish clear messaging addressing funding. Our key messaging is centered around the phrase “What we raise here, stays here” to help really capture Maggie’s attention. Elevate will be utilizing social media, the internet, printed materials and an event as the channels for which this message will be communicated. The firm’s three main strategies are:

    • Inform key publics with information about how CASOL is funded, what parishes CASOL serves and where donations go,
    • Engage with audiences to ensure comprehension and retention of how CASOL is funded and
    • Encourage audiences to donate to CASOL by utilizing “call-to-action” tactics to increase donations to the organization.

Each of these strategies is designed to intrigue “Maggie” and effectively achieve CASOL’s goal to increase donations. These strategies are the “why” behind the tactic or specific action that will be taken to effectively communicate key messaging.

Overall, Meltwater puts it simply, “ The goal of a sound PR strategy is universal: deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.”

Now that Elevate has developed a public relations strategy for CASOL, the team can further develop the communications plan through the use of specific tactics and channels to disseminate messaging. In next week’s blog, “Changing Times Call for Changing Tactics, PR tactics to Elevate Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana,”  Elevate will address how nonprofits can best utilize evolving public relations tactics and channels to communicate effectively with key audiences.

Works Cited:

Barnett, Joanne. (2006, May). How To…Draft a Public Relations Strategy. Retrieved from: https://www.terena.org/activities/tf-cpr/how-to/pr-strategy.pdf

Meltwater. (2013, August 1). 4 Simple Steps to a solid PR Pitch Strategy. Retrieved from: http://www.meltwater.com/blog/4-step-pr-strategy/

Panepento, Peter. (2015, March 17). Developing a Modern Public Relations Strategy. Retrieved from: http://www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com/blog/2015/03/17/developing-a-modern-public-relations-strategy/

Wood, Shaun P. (2014, February 4). What’s the Difference Between ‘Strategy’ and ‘Tactic?’ PRNewswer. Retrieved from: http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/whats-the-difference-between-strategy-and-tactic/100447

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