PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

How to Write a Communication Plan

During a recent MSU PRSSA meeting, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, CEO of Rossman PR, came in to talk about how to write a communication plan and important principles to execute the plan. Personally, it was extremely helpful and it served as a reminder that we are in a completely strategic field. Doing something just to do it won’t get you anywhere (for an example, look on Facebook for all the companies who have a Facebook page but don’t do anything with them). The video summary of what she talked about is right here:

Kelly talked about her eight-step approach when it comes to strategic public relations. Whether you are running a political campaign or fundraising for a nonprofit, these principles apply. Better yet, try and create a communication plan within a student group or current place of employment. Here are her steps and strategies:

The eight-step approach to strategic public relations planning:

  1. Background/situation analysis: State who the client is, where the client stands today, why they are seeking public relations services and how the agency understands the mission of the client.
  2. Goals and objectives: State the goals and objectives; remember that goals are broad while objectives are specific and measurable.
  3. Research: Perform some qualitative and quantitative research to help you executive and complete the campaign.
  4. Target audiences: Name the key internal and external target audiences that should be part of the campaign.
  5. Messages: Illustrate the key and secondary messages that will best motivate your audience.
  6. Proof points: Stats, stories and facts to support your stance.
  7. Communication tools: What mediums will best deliver your message? Print newspapers, online media, Facebook, etc.
  8. Evaluation: Have you been measuring the success of the campaign?

After you come up with all of these steps and plans for a campaign, it’s important to keep a strategic focus. The next list is a set of questions you should be able to answer clearly and concisely.

Principles of effective communication:

  • Credibility: Is your messenger credible – is he or she a trusted and respected source of information – with your audience?
  • Context: Is your message in context with reality and the environment in which your audience is located?
  • Content: Is your message relevant to your audience? Are they interested?
  • Clarity: Is your message simple and straightforward? How far will it travel and how long will it last?
  • Continuity and consistency: Repeat your message for audience penetration.
  • Channels: What channels/tools of communication are you using? What value are they to your audience?
  • Customer benefits: What’s in it for me?
  • Caring, compassion and concern: Does your audience know that you care?
  • Capability of audience: Is your audience capable of understanding the message? Will they take the time to listen/read/watch it?
  • Call to action: What is your audience supposed to do now?

All in all, it was a great meeting and a great presentation. Another online resource I found is from Dave Fleet, who has a great (and free!) e-book on writing a strategic communication plan here.

Any other tips for writing a communication plan? Any resources you’d like to share?

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Filed under: Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, Social Media, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

A New Generation

Update: As I’m writing this, CNN projects Obama as winner of the 2008 Presidential Election.

This evening, I was inspired to write a blog post from two speakers at our PRSSA Chapter meeting. Kelly Rossman-McKinney of the Rossman Group and Daniel Bergman of the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at MSU spoke to our Chapter about the presidential election. As with many other meetings this semester, the discussion turned to social media and how each campaign used it.

I’m not here to critique each campaign. I think each side learned about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to social media. But here is what I learned from this election:

  • People don’t like to be shouted at. They like to have a discussion. With all of the mudslinging in campaign ads and messages pounded into audiences, how effective can it be to actually change public opinion? My generation is independent and rebellious, and we don’t like to be told what to do. We do like to see what our friends are up to on Facebook and Twitter and what they’re thinking. Engaging an audience is key to success.
  • People don’t like to be lied to. They like to check their facts. I think in this election more than ever, people are looking to clarify what the candidates are saying. Web sites such as Fact Check allow visitors to get a third-party confirmation, therefore giving it more credibility. More generally, there have been plenty of times when I said to “Google it” after a candidate said something in a speech. A while ago, these resources were not available to voters so the credibility of these negative ads were high- but that probably won’t work as well anymore.
  • People don’t like to have decisions made for them. They like to participate. People blog. They tweet. They write notes. They discuss. They share. And the list goes on, but moreover, they have a presence online. To be successful, it is important that you’re giving people positive things to talk about and share online.

Social media allows for all of this. While younger people are primarily the ones using these tools, my generation will eventually become the older generation. This generation knowledgeable with social media will continue to grow and grow. Is social media going to change while this growth occurs? You betcha (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Even so, the importance and impact of the Web in learning and conversing will be here to stay.

I believe this is a fundamental shift in not only presidential elections, but also in how any organization communicates to its publics. It’s not a fad. It’s here to stay. And it’s dramatically changing the world as we know it.

I think it’s a good thing. But what do you think? Are there any negative effects to this evolving world of social media?

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

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