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2018 PR Planning: Prepare today to succeed tomorrow

Labor Day signaled the end of summer. It’s still only September, though, so how can we be thinking ahead to 2018 PR planning?

The reality is, the new year will be here soon.

The best B2B PR programs stem from strategic planning and definitive business goals. Being ready to hit the ground running when the calendar turns means starting to plan today.

There are many benefits to having an annual PR budget versus using your miscellaneous budget for sporadic product launches or announcements. An annual PR budget can ensure proactive and ongoing earned media that integrates with everything in marketing throughout the year, maximizing impact and results. Consider not only your larger initiatives in planning, but your specific marketing channels, including PR. Here are three questions to help guide your next planning session:

Question #1: What are my company’s goals and business objectives for 2018?

All of your marketing initiatives should be linked back to business objectives, including PR. More specifically, where does your company see growth coming from in the next 12 – 18 months? When it comes to your marketing program where are you getting pressure? Do you have any major product launches or will you be reaching new audiences or markets in the coming year? A good PR partner will collaborate with you to ensure the PR strategy helps you address these business objectives and that all of your efforts support these goals.

When we ask for client’s marketing plans this early in the year, a common response is, “it won’t be finalized until Q3.” Don’t let that stop you from starting the conversation and beginning to lay the framework for next year’s PR work. Sometimes having an understanding of the potential PR opportunities, such as how voice of customer research could enhance your content, can help you make a business case for it during your internal planning sessions.

Question #2: What role can PR play to make a bigger impact in 2018?

As the B2B PR landscape continues to evolve, now is the time to think whether it makes sense to rinse, wash and repeat what you have done in the past, or whether it is time to throw in the towel and rethink your strategy. Traditionally, companies gauged their PR success by the number of media placements or impressions. If you are interested in moving from awareness-based programs to lead-generation programs, it is important that your PR program works in concert with your marketing program. PR can extend beyond media relations to overall thought leadership and improving messaging that can fuel a demand generation program.

Question #3: How much do I need to invest in PR to achieve results?

This is going to be different for every organization’s set of objectives. And the great thing is that PR is scalable. One of the biggest mistakes we see clients make is simply cutting and pasting the previous year PR budget without considering what new investments might be needed to optimize and elevate their PR program.

Simply put, if you achieved 10 press placements last year and want to grow to 15 press placements in the next year – that will take a larger investment. Additionally, moving from awareness-based goals to lead generation or sales will also require utilizing new channels such as putting dollars behind sponsored content on LinkedIn or search engine optimization programs.

While growing your PR budget year over year can be difficult without C-suite buy-in, simply cutting and pasting can sell your program short. Instead, come with an open mind.

 

Are you ready to start talking 2018 planning? Email us at connect@inprela.com.

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