How To Create a Winning PR Strategy

Christy Walters


August 6, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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Public relations, or PR, refers to the communication between a company and the public. It articulates how a company shares information with customers, partners, or journalists and which information they choose to share. You can conduct PR strategies through various print, visual, and media channels. No matter the size of the company or industry, all businesses that want a favorable brand image can benefit from creating a PR strategy.

How Do You Manage PR?

PR incorporates elements of marketing and branding to create a consistent company voice and message. You can manage these communications through three major media categories that work together to elevate your brand reputation. These media categories include:

Owned Media

Owned media focuses on the communication channels and content you control. Things like your website, social media accounts, and mobile apps fall into this category. Using a service like CopyPress’ blog writing content is another example of owned media. When people talk about your brand on social media or in the press, they often link back to this type of content.

The purpose of owned media is to build relationships with current and potential customers and establish yourself in a media space. You control this content and can set its message. Owned media is usually cost-effective because you can often create it yourself or with the help of consultants.

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Paid Media

Paid media is exactly what it sounds like: channels you pay a fee to use. Most companies engage in paid media to increase their brand visibility. Things like display ads, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and sponsorships are part of this category. Typically when you engage in paid media, your company owns the feeds and content, but you’re paying for the opportunity to make sure more people see it.

Earned Media

Earned media relies on brand advocates and media members who become an advertising channel for your company. Content like social media shares, mentions, retweets, and reviews are examples of earned media. This type of media can give you insights into what the public thinks of your brand. It can also tell you what they want from your company.

People often trust earned media content because it doesn’t come from the company itself. Unlike sponsorships or influencer marketing, you rarely pay for earned media. This makes it seem more authentic to potential customers or clients. However, while earned media can increase your audience and sales, it’s more difficult to measure and control. This is because your company isn’t guiding the overall message.

What Is a PR Strategy?

A PR strategy is a plan you follow to guide and improve your communication efforts. These guidelines include a goal you’re attempting to reach, such as getting favorable brand views or social media reactions. The PR strategy is also something you can reference in unexpected media situations, which can help get your marketing and branding back to their original focus in the event of a crisis. Depending on your primary goal, PR strategies can be short-term or long-term.

What Are PR Strategy Tactics?

PR strategy tactics help promote your brand and show the public how you handle certain situations. They go beyond how the media views your company, focusing instead on how everyone views your organization. Examples of PR strategy tactics include:

Communication Choices

Communication choices are the options you use to share company information, both internally and externally. These choices are most successful when your brand voice is consistent. Examples of communication choices include emails, press releases, and company newsletters.

When writing both internal and external documents, strategic titles and headlines are key to engaging your audience and maintaining their interest. Download and explore CopyPress’ free eBook on writing effective titles and headlines to learn more.


Business events count as PR because they provide opportunities to speak about the company and build relationships. You can host events or attend them. Both situations allow you to meet with prospective customers, strengthen existing relationships, and upsell your products or services.

Community Relations

All organizations exist within some type of community. The other companies and residents who live and work near your stores or offices are part of that community. You can positively affect those who are geographically closest to you by making community relations efforts like:

  • Advocating for issues like public health or the environment
  • Donating to those in need
  • Providing customer discounts
  • Supporting education
  • Working with charities
  • Buying resources locally

All these things can help increase brand awareness and customer loyalty in your immediate area, which can enhance your reputation and improve other relationships.

Influencer Marketing

Influencers can help you reach new audiences. Though this is often a marketing strategy, working with influencers can affect both your owned and paid media. Additionally, their services and expertise can help display your content in a way you couldn’t replicate organically.

Crisis Management

In PR, a crisis doesn’t have to be a scandal or a company collapse. It includes anything that brings negative attention to your brand. Things like critical reviews, verbal altercations in a store, or product malfunctions could all lead to a PR crisis. These are things that could damage your reputation if you don’t address them.

Crisis management refers to how you handle the issue. It’s good to respond to negative attention quickly, consistently, and strategically. First, listen to what people say about the situation. Next, identify how or why it happened. Review your response and make sure the tone and reaction fit the situation. Finally, respond on all relevant channels.

Internal or Company Relations

Internal relations show how you communicate with your employees, partners, and stakeholders. This factor sets the tone for your work environment and culture. Examples include internal documents for team members, employee perks, and how you handle staff concerns or complaints.

Media Relations

Media relations show how you communicate with journalists and the press. This is one of the most common things people associate with PR, but it’s just one part of a larger framework. Think about how you relate to media representatives. Are you available to talk when they call or visit? Do you provide the information they need? Do you invite them to your events? The media has the power to change the public’s perception of your brand, so considering how you interact with them can be vital to any short- or long-term PR strategy.

Social Media

Like influencer marketing, social media crosses the barriers of branding, marketing, and PR. These platforms are a direct way to connect with your audience. Social media strategies can vary depending on your goals, but from a PR standpoint, you might consider consistency in the tone, imagery, and timing of your posts, as well as any trends or events that may impact how your posts are perceived.

Why Does My Brand Need a PR Strategy?

PR strategies not only help you understand your company goals, but they also come with additional benefits. Some of them include:

Increase Brand Awareness

PR strategies support your marketing campaigns and vice versa. When you capture an audience’s attention through advertising or PR, they may notice you in other areas, too. This leads to brand recognition and, optimistically, more followers, visitors, or conversions.

Increase Investment Opportunities

Having good PR and a favorable brand can attract investors. Creating a strategy can increase your brand’s credibility. When your company appears credible, people may also think it’s trustworthy and authentic. This all helps demonstrate to investors that your brand is something worth putting their money into.

Increase Lead Generation

The more people who know about your company, the more likely you are to increase sales and leads. PR strategies help promote your brands across different types of media. They let you find openings in the press, social media, TV, blogs, news sites, and forums to get more visibility.

Recruit Talent

PR isn’t just about attracting investors and customers. It can also help you find new employees, too. PR strategies can help job seekers see that your company is favorable or stable. Additionally, you can create PR campaigns specifically to let people know you’re hiring and looking for new talent.

Create Trust

PR and marketing work together to influence your branding. You can market your company in a certain way, but people also associate those messages with how you treat and interact with the public. To use the old phrase “Actions speak louder than words,” your words are often your marketing efforts, and your actions are often PR. When you keep your words and actions consistent, it can help shape favorable brand messaging.

Recover From a Crisis

Having a PR plan can help you recover from a small or large crisis more quickly. Even if you don’t need to use this element of your plan, knowing that you have a strategy to combat negative publicity can help keep your team members calm. It can also make you look prepared and genuine when resolving conflicts.

What Makes a Good PR Strategy?

A good PR strategy is compatible with your goals and your marketing efforts. A good strategy is often easy to execute because it’s logical and integrates seamlessly into your business plan. Things to keep in mind when shaping your PR strategy include:

  • Reviewing data from past public relations situations and evaluating how to make these encounters better in the future
  • Understanding the current political, cultural, environmental, and other related factors in society that serve as the context for your PR messages
  • Focusing on being genuine and authentic with the public

How To Create a PR Strategy

Use these steps to create a PR strategy for your brand:

1. Review a Year of PR Activity

Look at the state of PR from the last year. Review PR situations from your own company, your competitors, and throughout the industry. Note trends that happened over that period and focus on elements like:

  • Media attention you received and if it was positive or negative
  • Effects the media attention had on your business
  • Reactions from journalists, bloggers, vloggers, and other media outlets
  • Influence reach of your sharers in their respective spaces
  • Search engine rankings for owned media

Completing this reflection and research can help you understand what went well in the previous year and how you can build on that success or improve.

2. Create PR Goals

Your PR goals can help you decide what messages and behaviors to target with your strategy. They also can help you choose a target audience. Tie your PR goals to your business plan, and make them measurable in a way that you can track. As with other business goals, PR objectives work best when they’re possible to achieve in a specific timeframe and have tangible results. Common PR goals may include:

  • Improving your brand reputation
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Increasing demand for goods and services
  • Raising awareness about changes within the company

3. Define Your Target Audience

Your target audience is the group of people you shape your PR goals around. You may have a different group in mind for each PR strategy you create. The target audience can determine the type of media you use and the methods of communication for your strategy. Some common audience groups include:

  • Existing clients or customers
  • Prospective clients or customers
  • Business partners
  • Stakeholders
  • Investors
  • Government regulators
  • Current employees
  • Media members

4. Identify the Environments That Affect Your Business

The PEST (Political, Economical, Social, Technological) analysis can help you identify real world factors that could affect your business. Some common considerations for each category in this analysis are:

  • Political: Taxes, regulations, and the political climate
  • Economical: Industry structures, resource availability, unemployment rates, and economic cycles
  • Social: Education levels, income distribution, and consumer behavior
  • Technological: New technologies, product life cycles, skilled resources, and research and development support

These factors are part of the macro and micro environments of business. Macro environments are big, national topics like legal issues and the political landscape. Micro environments are smaller things that directly affect your company and can change your daily business operations. Understanding these environments helps you prepare a timely PR strategy that can handle crises or let you excel in the current state of the industry.

5. Identify Key Messages

PR key messages are similar to talking points for speech writers and public speakers. These are the ideas and values you want people to associate with your business or brand after you deliver any form of communication. Common messages may educate your audience, change their perception of the company, or persuade them to complete an action. In order to improve audience retention, it’s helpful to keep the messages short with one clear point. Try to tailor each message to one of your strategic goals or objectives.

6. Select PR Tools

PR tools help get your messages out to the target audience. They’re also the things that help you track how well you’re progressing towards your goals. You can use owned, paid, and earned media as PR tools to help engage your audience and build their trust. Other PR tools include:

  • Creating and maintaining relationships with journalists and influencers
  • Finding contact information for potential partners
  • Choosing email and SEO analytics programs
  • Locating image designers or graphic design software
  • Picking distribution channels for press releases
  • Finding contacts for outreach
  • Researching trends and media opportunities

7. Plan PR Tactics

Your goals and target audience help determine which tactics to include in your PR strategy. For example, how you reach internal employees may differ from how you reach potential customers. For short-term strategies, you may implement one PR tactic, but with long-term strategies, you may use multiple tactics over time to spread your message.

8. Measure Results

It’s beneficial to track your PR efforts to see if you’re meeting your goals. At the beginning of your process, set a schedule for how you want to look at analytics and numbers. You may choose to track some channels daily and others monthly. The types of metrics you follow may also influence your schedule. Depending on your goals, consider looking at factors like:

  • Website backlinks
  • Brand mentions
  • Sales and conversions
  • Website traffic
  • Social media engagement
  • Follower, subscriber, or attendance growth

Your PR strategies can benefit from personalization. To create an effective strategy, it’s good practice to use tactics that target your audience and goals to make your efforts more authentic.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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