Posted: September 13th, 2017
Word limit: 2500 words (not including references)
The learning outcomes being assessed are:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the scope and nature of public relations practice.
2. Analyse and evaluate specific technical activities of public relations practice.
3. Demonstrate an understanding of communication theory and its application to written public relations documents.
Design a public relations campaign to build a dialogic relationship between your organisation and ONE key public that focuses on ONE issue. Write a plan for your campaign that shows what communication and relationship-building aims it is trying to achieve, how it will go about reaching those aims, how you will measure its success, and how you will publicise it.
The stakeholder interaction achieved by your campaign could be support in the nature of fundraising, or support through increasing membership or volunteer numbers. Although your brainstorming of your client’s strengths and weaknesses will doubtless have revealed that they face many public relations issues and opportunities, choose only one issue to address in your communication plan. Think about what your organisation needs to achieve to reach its goal(s) and how you can build or improve relationships through public relations activity.
Your success in writing the communication plan will not necessarily be determined on your breadth of thinking, but on precision. I will be looking for how well you perform a small, precise communication planning task, not for anything too wildly massive in scale. Keep it small and simple.
Your communication plan will have the following sections:
1. An executive summary.
2. A profile of your client.
This section should provide an overview of the organisation. This should include the who, what, where and how of your client. Look at the marking guide for this assignment to get a better understanding of the kind of information you should be looking to provide. Tip – to save on your word count, don’t double up on information about your client in the profile and SWOT analysis.
3. The issue or opportunity.
What is the ONE key issue facing this client that you have chosen to address through the campaign? Describe the issue in depth – how did it arise, what is its history, what factors have contributed to its existence? We should really feel we understand this issue, its causes, and what is likely to happen next with it after reading this section. For example, if the issue is low volunteer numbers, how long have volunteer numbers been low, why are they low, have other tactics been tried to recruit in the past, did they work, why or why not, are they getting lower or staying still, or rising at present?
4. The Audience.
In very general terms, what group or groups of publics does this particular issue affect? Does the issue you’ve chosen only affect staff at the organisation, for example, or does it have wider repercussions? Is this a marketing communication issue, a community relations issue, a fundraising issue, or some combination of these? (Tip: Almost every issue affects more than one group of publics. For example, the media always find out about things that affect other publics, and so need to be considered as an important public in most communication planning.)
5. A nominated key public.
In this section give as much detail as you can find out on the particular public you have chosen to communicate with. For the purposes of this small-scale campaign plan you can’t communicate with every public detailed at 4 above, so pick just one. Segment as NARROWLY as possible. For example, if your issue affects staff, just pick one small subset of staff such as senior managers or volunteer staff to communicate with via your campaign. For every campaign you will also need to think about media, but this might not necessarily mean external media such as newspapers; if your campaign is internal, your publicity media might be all in-house, such as newsletters and email lists. Different kinds of staff members may need to be reached via different types of communication. The campaign should be for one type of audience only. You might limit your public by geography or by age, or by gender, or by some other characteristic (people who have previously visited a website, for example, and left their email details as wanting more information). The narrower your targeting can be, the better (Remember: your communication plan will not be judged on breadth of thinking, but on precision. I am looking for how well you perform a small, precise communication planning task, not for anything too wildly massive in scale! Keep it small and simple). After reading this section we should almost feel like we know your nominated public personally – exactly what do they like, dislike, care about, and get motivated by? What things are they interested in? What are their social, cultural, and information needs? Show us that your campaign has carefully considered audience needs and is not just a random creative act.
6. A strategy overview.
What is your broad goal with this campaign? To raise awareness, gain members, get votes, gather feedback, encourage written submissions or signatures on a petition? What, in general, will be different for the client once you’ve implemented your communication campaign? What is the very general approach you intend to take to achieving this goal? Will you focus on relationship building, increasing mutual understanding, or marketing communication? Will you use the campaign to entertain, to inform, to promote, or some combination? What will be your three broad key messages for the campaign? You state in very broad overview terms here what the campaign, ideally, needs to achieve – save the detail of the step-by-step processes that you will take for the later sections on objectives and tactics.
7. A set of measurable objectives.
This section breaks down your overall goals for the campaign into specific, measurable objectives that have end-dates. You should provide at least five objectives, but probably many more. These should primarily be behavioural and attitudinal (what you want your target public to do or think as a result of attending this campaign) but you may also include some output objectives.
For example, if your goal is to reduce the instances of influenza at each Massey University campus, students could get a free flu shot. A behavioural objective might be to host the appropriate regional health authority on campus to administer the injection and the related output objective would be to have students get the vaccination. Similarly, if an attitudinal objective is to raise awareness of the benefits of flu shots in your target public by 20% (or whatever the appropriate percentage would be) by a certain date, a related output objective might be to get an article in Massive discussing the benefits and informing students how they can get one. Another objective (a behavioural one) will specify exactly how many students get a flu shot, of what type (age, interest, etc.), within what timeframe, you aim to achieve. You then have a number of ways of assessing your success in achieving your aims, by measuring stated outputs, but more importantly by measuring behavioural outcomes.
8. A tactics list.
What sorts of communication activities need to happen in your campaign to enable your client to reach its publics and achieve its objectives? Your campaign will need a range of communication activities that will get your messages across and ask your publics to perform the behaviours you are seeking. These include things like videos for their website, promotional events, posters, brochures, celebrity endorsement, blog and twitter updates, media release, copies of petitions for signing, membership applications, etc. Note that for Assignment 2, you are required to produce a brochure, video, blog post and media release, so it makes sense to consider these here as potential tactics (but you don’t need to limit yourself to these, in your plan).
If you want feedback and input and discussion, exactly how will you make it happen? You will also need to consider contingencies and supporting materials if you hold an event. Everything will need to be written into your plan, or they won’t happen! To help you cover off all the details, you should imagine that you are planning the campaign but others will be carrying out the implementation: so don’t leave ANYTHING to chance. Everything should be clearly written down so that others can follow the full plan in your absence.
9. A publicity plan.
Outline how you will generate attention for your campaign and organisation. Will you use controlled media, uncontrolled media, or some combination? List all the media whom you will contact, and why. This should include media materials they need to produce and distribute, phone calls they need to make (to whom and when?), interviews they need to schedule. Make sure you have thought about newsworthiness; what tactic have you planned that will be of interest to the media that you are inviting (and remember that it will only be of interest to the media if it is of interest to their target audience). And remember to talk about the theory for this type of communication activity. Remember too that for Assignment 2, you will need to produce a brochure, video, blog posting and media release – so consider if/how these might also fit within your publicity plan.
10. An estimated budget.
A rough but reasonably accurate cost estimate must accompany each of your communication activities. Phone printers or other service providers and ask for rough quotes to make sure you’re estimating current costs. Add in 10% as a ‘safety margin’ to make sure you don’t under-estimate.
11. Evaluation Schedule.
An explanation of how you will evaluate the success of the campaign. For example, if you said your objective was to have 100 students get a flu shot by 30 April or increase awareness of the benefits of having a flu jab, how will you tell if this has happened? You will need to build in an evaluation mechanism into each of your objectives so that you can assess your success (or lack of it!).
If your objective was to increase anything by a certain percentage, you will need to carry out a measure BEFORE and AFTER the campaign period, so that you can properly quantify the result of the communication. Such evaluation methods need to be specified in a schedule with dates and appropriate methods for testing every objective you set. You should be able to tear out the evaluation section and hand it over to a specialist evaluation subcontractor. They should be able to read exactly what you want measured, when, and how. It is crucial that EVERY objective is measured in some way.
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