A public relations plan outlines all of the components and tools that will make up a company’s approach to public relations. A PR strategy is a more specific look at how each particular PR tool will become part of two common PR strategies, which are proactive and reactive PR.
A public relations plan is a major section in a company’s broader marketing plan. Marketing plans lay out specific goals and strategies by a which a company will achieve success in delivering products or services to the marketplace. It includes recognition of needs in key market segments, an analysis of the current situation of the company, objectives, strategies, timelines, tactics and financial statements addressing anticipated performance.
The PR plan portion of a marketing plan identifies the objectives, strategies and tactics specifically related to public relations. Public relations is the use of unpaid media space and time to deliver brand or product messages. Companies attempt to use various PR tools such as press releases, feature articles, news coverage, press conferences and others to deliver messages without having to pay for advertising. The challenge is planning how to control the messages when the medium is not paid for.
Proactive PR Strategy
A proactive PR strategy addresses the positive messages about a company and its brands that it intends to communicate. During the PR plan development, companies do an internal audit to identify cores strengths as well as vulnerabilities. The proactive strategy identifies the strengths and messages companies want to consistently deliver through PR to support advertising and other marketing communications.
Reactive PR Strategy
A reactive strategy is a planned response to negative news and events. Companies identify and plan for potentially vulnerable components of their business. Planning for every potential negative event is impossible, but companies can also plan responses for unexpected events. This includes strategizing how and when to respond when a damaging event occurs. Wendy’s patience in reacting to news that a customer found a finger in her chili at a Wendy’s restaurant in early 2005 was rewarded. By not rushing to judgment, the company was able to overcome the PR nightmare when the event was proven a hoax and the woman involved was arrested in April 2005.