Team--JConnelly Blog--Four Steps to Creating an Effective PR Plan

If you're like me, (shout-out to my 'Type A' peers) being organized and creating checklists helps prioritize day-to-day activities and contributes to overall professional success. That said, I'm sharing a simple checklist of the industry's most time-honored process for the creation and implementation of an effective PR campaign. There are many variations to the campaign creation model, as shown in this table.: 


















But it really boils down to these four fundamentals:

  • Research
  • Planning
  • Implementation & Communication
  • Evaluation

The checklist appears simple, but it guarantees that the PR campaign will address the client's desired outcomes, affirms that the decisions made during the campaign were based on responsible business principles and will accurately measure the client's return on investment.

Research: Tackling That First Step

Research is the first step on the checklist. During this phase, the goal is to understand three essentials:

  • The Client
  • The Problem and/or The Opportunity
  • The Target Audiences

Research serves as the foundation of the entire PR campaign and is imperative to the creation process. At JConnelly, we dive deep with our "Immersion" process, to absorb or identify the organization's narrative, culture, strengths, weaknesses, untapped opportunities and the relationship with its publics.  

Planning: Laying It Out

Next on the checklist is the planning phase, which occurs directly after the discovery call - the final step of our Immersion process. During this phase, we develop a PR plan by identifying:

  • The Strategy
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Publics
  • Tactics

You may be racking your brains, Googling or even asking Alexa what the difference between the strategy, goals and objectives are. Don't worry – we’ve got you covered.


Strategy is a high-level view of the PR campaign that acts as a roadmap to accomplishing goals and objectives. To put it simply, strategies are WHY you are doing something, not HOW you plan to accomplish it.


Goals are what the client would like to accomplish. When developing goals, you define the end result, not the process. During our discovery calls, we ask clients what success looks like or what their business goals are and incorporate their responses into this section of the campaign.


Publics are any group of people tied together by some common factor or interest and an audience is a group of people gathered in the same place. In this section of the plan, we identify and prioritize particular publics the client would like to communicate with and research the top influencers or Lead Steers at outlets that these publics follow.


Objectives define the opinion, attitude, or behavior you want to achieve from the target publics. Objectives are simple, measurable and operate on a shorter term than goals do. Simply put, an objective is what you’re going to do, by how much, by when. For example, ___ by ___% by this date. When creating a PR campaign, a best practice is to carefully define objectives for each public you wish to target.


Tactics are the steps you'll take to accomplish the goal, meet the objective and fulfill the strategy. The tactics are the HOW portion of the campaign and can include:

  • Press releases
  • Media outreach
  • Social media promotion
  • Community events

Implementation & Communication: Putting the Pedal to the Metal

The third part of the checklist is pretty straightforward. Once the client approves the PR plan, it's time to get the party started! Depending on the nature of the campaign, this could include activities such as:

  • Scheduling weekly/bi-weekly client calls
  • Building media lists
  • Developing pitches
  • Conducting media outreach
  • Creating messaging or talking points
  • Writing and placing content such as press releases or bylines
  • Planning events or webinars
  • Publishing posts on social media
  • Tracking and reporting media hits

Evaluation: Summing it All Up

The last step on the checklist is evaluation, which should be an ongoing process that involves monitoring the success of the plan and completion of the stated objectives. You measure success against the objectives, answering the question: did we ___ by ___% by this date?

At JConnelly, we evaluate the plans on a quarterly basis to make sure we're on the right track. This allows us to fine-tune the plan mid-campaign if we're not keeping pace with our initial expectations.

You can read more about evaluation metrics in our e-book, "Beyond Ad Value Piecing Together the New World of PR Metrics" (see link below).

In sum, these four steps are the fundamental stages for every effective PR campaign. Armed with this checklist, you have a reliable method for creating a strategic campaign that addresses your client's needs, communicates key messages to the client's target audience and accurately measures the client's return on investment. Now go forth and practice good PR!

 Beyond Ad Value: Piecing Together the New World of PR Metrics


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