Are you looking to start a PR campaign soon? Do you need coverage on a particular product or event? Here is where to start.


There has been a long debate about the relevancy of PR in the last few years, supported by the idea that SEO was doing the job just right, but wise marketers and entrepreneurs know these two actually serve different purposes. Traditional public relations are as relevant as ever when it comes to brand awareness, and digital PR is a great way to support SEO. Make sure you follow this checklist to get your PR right.

1) Goals and KPIs

Before anything else, think hard about what you wish your PR campaign to achieve, and put down key performance indicators in writing so you can share it with your communications team. KPIs for the campaign can be revenue, awareness, leads, links, traffic or even social media followers.

2) Time and deadline

When do you need to see results by? Depending on what you are promoting (e.g. product, service, event, etc), and what needs to be achieved (i.e. goals and KPIs), write down a timeline of each step or milestone you want your PR campaign to reach, and when you need it to reach it, until the ultimate deadline (e.g. product launch).

3) Plan and checkpoints

Your team or PR consultant should establish a clear plan with measurable objectives based on KPIs and campaign goals. The PR plan includes the campaign’s target audience, your company or product’s USPs, a clear message, and strategic approach. Put checkpoints in place for each element of the plan.

4) Supporting channels

They may seem obvious to you and your team, but PR and marketing channels need to be fixed and a team member or freelance consultant must be allocated to every one of them. Channels include social media, print publications, online publications (press, websites and blogs) or even award shows and direct marketing. The channels used in a PR campaign are based on your established goals (i.e. link building, brand awareness etc) and target audience (e.g. consumers, industry, decision-makers).

5) Team

Each PR activity needs a professional who will be dedicated to it. Gauge each team member’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to the channels that will be used during the PR campaign. Hire a freelance marketing and PR consultant for extra help on some elements of the plan. For example, you might need external help with the distribution of your press release, or with pure outreach (link building).

6) Contacts list

Building the right list of PR contacts for a specific PR campaign is key for the success of your project. You may already have an extensive list of press contacts, but you still need to refine it as your news might not be relevant to them this time but might be interesting to others. Using your established target audience, search and list publications, websites, e-zines, blogs and podcasts that are relevant to ‘who should take an action’ and ‘the action’ itself. If your goal is link-building, create an outreach list carefully, based on domain authority and page authority (25 minimum).

7) Communication type

Based on what you are promoting, as well as your message and channels, decide how the communication will start between your brand and target audience. In an era where consumers are always connected, this might have to come through mobile and outside of work (or school) hours. The communication type is in direct relation with ‘the action’ you want your audience to take. and the goals you want your campaign to achieve. Define if you are only communicating an information or opening a dialogue with your target audience, and when is the best time to reach them.

8) Pitch

A PR pitch must give the key facts and information and engage with a reader quickly. It needs to grab your PR contact’s attention from the very first lines, and it might end up being published so it must suit your audience too. This also applies to phone pitches. Make sure your press officer or PR consultant writes down a solid pitch with a tone that is adapted to your brand and relevant to what you are promoting. A perfect pitch is one that is sincere, sinformational and not ‘salesy’.

9) Budget

This might be a given, but allocating a budget to each PR campaign within your PR strategy for a specific quarter or year allows both you and your team to determine realistic tools, channels and timeframes from the very start. Sending goody bags might seem like a great idea on paper, but it can represent an unnecessary cost with limited results if budget is already tight. Setting a budget and sticking to it is the best way to open the door to creative ideas from your team or PR consultant.

10) Tracking and reporting

Having established KPIs and goals at the first stage of the campaign, you now need to put a reporting system in place for every step of PR journey. As a golden rule, keep in mind that any activity that can’t be reported on or evaluated simply shouldn’t be done. Track success on a weekly basis, so you can quickly allocate more resources or team members to specific channels.

This essential PR checklist is a great way for managers to get the best team on board for a particular PR project, and to set realistic and measurable objectives for their campaign. With tight deadlines and other activities to supervise, use these guidelines to save precious time and energy, and to drive your PR campaign successfully.

Originally published in the Jennifer Hakim Communications blog.

Read more: What Is PR Newswire?