Ten-Point Planning Model for a PR Campaign:
Scarcity of the resources often forces us to resort to constraints. Therefore, ptudence demands that we plan our expenditure, make a judicious use of the available resources and try to obtain the best possible results at the minimum possible cost. The generally accepted PR planning model encompasses:
- Assessment of the situation
- Isolation of the problem
- Establishing policies
- Extending in-depth research
- Determining objectives
- Defining publics
- Development of a plan/selection of media and the techniques
- Planning of a budget
- Execution of the Plan
- Assessing results
1.Assessment of the Situation
Before chalking out/formulating a PR programme, it is necessary to be clear about its starting point as without having a clear perception about the public esteem or the current “image” of an organization, it would not be possible for any PR practitioners to chalk out an appropriate programme and/or recommend measures/considered necessary for improving the public image/rating of his/her client.
The current image of any subject can be found out by collecting necessary relevant data. This can be-done through five questions, four starting with “WM and one with “H”J (However, the questions asked by PR experts are different from the six generally put by] the journalists to make their stories/despatches about various events/happenings more comprehensive.) These questions arc: What image do the “publics” have of the concern^ organization,(i.e. subject) for which it is proposed to chalk out a PR programme? In otWil words, where docs it stand in the public esteem at that time? What do people know or nod know about it? What are their areas of misunderstanding—hostility, prejudice, apathy and ignorance etc, if any? What are the causes for the negative attitudes about the concern (subject) and finally, how these can be converted into positive ones?
Importance of Primary Research
Primary research is essential for making an assessment about the corporate image or goodwill that an organization enjoys amongst its “Publics”. Although research involved expenditure, but it is an investment — rather insurance — in success. However, effort^ should be made to keep the expenditure on research on a modest side and it should not b^ in any case, very high.
The research method most frequently used for PR purposes is the opinion pol where a sample of people, i.e. representatives of the particular “public” are interviewed and their attitudes are studied from the responses furnished by them. From the information data thus collected percentages are worked out of the people of different kinds holding certain views. The sample can be made up of men, women, married, single, in different age groups or social strata.
The result of the first survey would give an assessment of the corporate image of the organization prior to the launching of a PR programme. As the programme proceeds and progresses, similar surveys can be carried out at suitable intervals, say after every six months or so, to monitor changes in the opinions/attitudes of the people. However, the people questioned-should be relevant. For example, the respondents for a fertilizer or insecticide company should be the tillers/farmers or the dealers/stockists, while for baby food these could be mothers or would be mothers, doctors, nurses etc. Other Methods In addition to the opinion polls, other methods of assessing/appreciating the situation may include:
- a. Press cutting, broadcasts or telecasts, monitoring reports.
- b. sales figure trends;
- c. state of competition and effects of imports;
- d. share price, stock market opinion, dividends and balance sheet;
- e. industrial relations situation;
- f. customer complaints;
- g. effects of price changes;
- h. economic/political situation and
- i. attitudes of opinion leaders.
2.Isolation of the Problem
The exact problem, its nature and extent and also main reasons for the existence of the problem can be determined with the help of the information/data collected through sample surveys or from studies and analysis carried out with the help of the indicators given above. Generally, four negative attitudes of the “Publics” towards the organization may emerge. These may be hostility, prejudice, apathy and ignorance.
Negative situation Positive situation
PR is not necessarily about trying to make others believe that we are the best. Creation of tolerance may be one of the PR objectives, but it is difficult to make people tolerate something which are not properly understood, in particular in race matters. Knowledge creates understanding and the principal objective of PR is creating understanding.
The primary aim of a PR programme should be to convert the negative attitudes, if any, into positive attributes — hostility into sympathy, prejudice into acceptance, apathy into interest and ignorance into knowledge. But before making an attempt for bringing about a desired change in the attitudes of the people, one should try to find out the exact nature/degree/magnitude of the negative attitudes, if any, existing about a subject.
After determining the problem, its nature/extent, reasons/causes etc, policy guidelines or strategy for bringing a positive change in the attitudes of the “public” through PR efforts can be formulated. The PR policy or strategy should then be got approved from the management of the organization concerned, i.e. the subject.
We should then carry out research aimed at finding out complete information about the “public” in question, in particular their educational level, habits, religious attitudes/ beliefs, hobbies, peer groups etc., and also the type of media popular among them. The pattern that emerges from the study/research will help us in determining appropriate communication techniques and media strategy for disseminating messages to the target groups, keeping in view their general traits and habbits.
PR practitioners should then make a list of objectives after holding discussions with the senior executives of the organization/subject. Some of these objectives can be achieved within a short span of time while others may require a sustained effort over along period. Further, it may not require much effort and expenditure to achieve some objectives, but there may be some that may require huge investments or expenditure. Therefore, the need for fixing priorities for realizing various objectives within the budgetary allocations. Some possible objectives for a business for a business concern may include:
- To establish a new corporate image because the company has broadened its operations. For instance, a company making corn flakes, now produces fertilizers, cement, sugar, cloth etc. To attract the best talent for jobs.
- To gain credit for the achievements or discoveries or any other pioneering work.
- To introduce the company in new markets.
- To create climate conducive for g new floatation of shares.
- To improve community relations.
- To educate users/consumers about some new product.
- To regain public confidence
- To project Chairman’s participation in social activities.
- To. sponsor educational, literary or philanthropic activities.
- To create a better understanding among the politicians about the activities of the
Every organization has its own “publics”. These are people or a particular section of the people who benefit, directly or indirectly, from the services offered by the concern or who contribute, in one way or the other, in promoting the sales of the organization or are its patrons/promoters. In other words, publics are those groups of people, internal or external, with whome an organization communicates. Although the publics of one organization may differ from those of another, eight basic publics are common to most of the commercial organizations. These are:
- The community. This may be different from organization to organization, depending upon its communication needs and requirements.
- Potential Employees. These may exist in the institutions of learning or other organizations.
- Employees. These can be of many kinds representing different salary, social or ethnic groups.
- Suppliers. These include both suppliers of utilities (i.e. water, energy etc.) and materials/professional services.
- Investors. These include share-holders and institutional buyers of stocks.
- Distributors. These include persons/firms who handle goods between the producers and the consumers.
- Consumers/users. These include the persons or group of persons who actually buy/ use the products/services.
- Leaders of Opinion. These include persons whose opinions can help or harm an organization.
7.Development of Plan
Development of a plan of action and the selection of the PR media/techniques should be done with extreme care. The only criterion for their selection should be their ability to give the best possible results in a given situation.
Readership figures in case of the print media and the audience rating in case of the electronic media should be kept in view while developing a plan or selecting a medium. Readership figures can be more helpful than circulation figures because some newspapers, in particular those specializing in economic and financial matters, have a small circulation as compared to popular newspapers, but a large number of readers per copy. Further, the type of persons who read financial newspapers is different from those who read general run of the mill popular newspapers. This equally applies to the programmes on the electronic media. Hence the value/quality of coverage does not depend upon the number of column centimeters (space) but the relevance of readership. For a financial/commercial stock market story, (press release 1) the financial newspapers could be given a greater rating/value than general newspapers. However, it would be quite reverse for a story (press release 2) on household products or consumer goods as illustrated in the chart.’ Hence selection of the media should be > primarily based on value judgement and the technique keeping in view the significance ofjthe event, the timings, the budgetary allocations and the popularity of the newspaper concerned amongst the given “public”.
The budget sets a discipline for expenditure and it depends upon the activities or the size of an organization. Budgeting is imperative for the following reasons:
To estimate the expenditure for carrying out a PR programme.
Alternatively, to learn what sort of programme can be carried out within the allocations. To measure results after the completion of a campaign.
PR is a labour intensive task, involving research, planning, determination of goals/ objectives, formulation of policies and their execution, selection of the media and the techniques and assessing results. Therefore, the biggest single cost that the PR exercises usually involve is the working hours. Other major costs include machines/equipments, making of films, audio-tapes, video-cassettes, printing of information material or production of house journals. As the films/tapes or information material, when produced, will be utilized over a considerable period, it is therefore advisable to spread their cost over a number of years. However, as a policy the PR budget should be modest and it should be allocated to the various media keeping in view the value and the results likely to be achieved. Further, the entire budget should not be allocated to an single medium; it should’ rather be spent on various media because the experience shows that a multi-pronged strategy can always yield better results.
9.Execution of the Plan
The plan should, in the first place, be launched on a pilot basis in one area/sector/ town and then its results should be assessed. The shortcomings that come to light during the execution of the plan in the pilot area should be removed, modifing/improving the original plan before its execution on a country-wide or international basis. Experience has shown that most of the successful organizations are masters of PR, their leaders or officials being good communicators. In fact, to be successful PR should start at the top and the chief executive should be in effect the principal public relations officer of the organization.
10.Assessment of Results
The research techniques indicated in the beginning of this chapter, under the heading “Logical Planning” for finding out the image of an organization before launching any PR campaign can be repeated to assess or evaluate the results, a good example being that of the opinion poll or attitude test; The methods of evaluating results are generally decided at the planning stage.
As the PR campaigns set out objectives, the results can be assessed against these predetermined targets. (A list of possible objectives is given under the heading “Determining Objectives”). The results are often self-evident and do not require special research. One can easily assess whether the organization now enjoys better community relations, if its public image has increased, if it succeeded in attracting the public to subscribe to its new shares, if the sales staff was welcomed when it approached with a new product and so on.