A common response to the question ‘what do you want media for?’ is usually something along the lines of ‘to build brand awareness’ or ‘to build our profile’.
Those are fine and lofty goals, but building brand awareness is better suited to a well-resourced marketing and advertising campaign where your aim is to emblazon your brand on the inside of a consumer’s skull in order to impact their buying behaviour.
The role of PR is to shape public opinion on an event, industry, or issue. Why the construction industry needs to ditch these practices, how raising money for cause X will make a material difference to millions of people’s lives, or why the government needs to increase funding for Y sector.
This article will be focusing on PR campaigns.
There are three types of PR campaigns you can employ to advance your cause or event, depending on your campaign goals, timeline and budget.
The burst campaign is a short campaign, spanning several weeks to a month, and is built around a specific event at a point in time, e.g. a launch, or to raise $50,000 by a certain date.
The advantage of a burst campaign is it is affordable – especially compared to the cost of a marketing budget – and has a specific focus. If you have a strong story hook you can get ‘free’ publicity through the traditional media and will be able to ask the public for support, or an action to be taken.
The burst campaign is best suited to a one off, modest, non-repeatable goal.
The pulse campaign typically runs over several months and is focused around a series of events and stakeholders. It may include a soft launch, official launch, a series of actions or activities, and the involvement of other parties, e.g. an annual health awareness campaign built around a series of media engagements, stakeholder buy in, and events to help build public understanding of an issue.
The advantage of a pulse campaign is that you have a longer lead time, allowing you to find preferred media outlets or media partners to help work up a story. You might get coverage for that across several platforms and programs. Stakeholder outreach allows you to get more media interest and access to more case studies which are central to bringing your campaign to life.
A lobbying campaign is much more effective when long-term or significant change is sought. That might be introducing or changing a law, asking for significant funding, or building public recognition of your organisation and its industry leadership.
A lobbying campaign usually has a series of policy and/or funding objectives that an organisation, peak body, or campaigning group wants to see instituted by government at various levels.
The length of a campaign is usually commensurate with the scale of the undertaking. If a lot of convincing is needed, so is a lot of time. A lobbying campaign also requires additional material and financial resources and platforms to begin the process of winning the public to your campaign objectives.
To be successful, a lobbying campaign will:
- Establish an expert advisory panel to formulate campaign goals
- Find campaign ambassadors to advocate for the campaign
- Engage in stakeholder and ally outreach to build a coalition of support
- Create a slate of arguments that your campaign will prosecute in the media
- Create campaign collateral (infographics, reports, video testimonials)
- Use traditional media (print, online, TV, radio) to raise the debate
- Use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to continue the debate and target specific cohorts based on occupation, interest, or geography
- Use digital media (landing pages, websites, petitions) to build a passive and active (funders, skills, time) supporter base
- Organise meetings with politicians to discuss campaign and secure support
There’s more involved but the above will form the nucleus of a lobbying campaign, whose purpose is to put the aims of the campaign into the public’s consciousness and through the public to put pressure on politicians and office bearers to introduce your campaign reforms.