Creating a Timeline for Your PR Campaign: 4 Stages of the Process

If you’ve been keeping up with us, then you’re already aware of how critical an effective PR plan can be when it comes to success.

Whether you’re setting yourself up for a busy new year or kicking things off with a brand new client, one of the most fundamental ways to ensure you stay on track is by establishing a timeline for your planned efforts.

Not only can taking a long-term approach to your public relations efforts help increase effectiveness, it also allows you to better plan for integrated communications efforts and better align your PR plans with your client’s business objectives. 

A PR plan is going to be unique to every client and campaign, and while some may only last for a couple of months, others could span an entire year. 

Because things can vary so much, it’s key to establish and communicate expected timing with your client upfront, to make sure everyone is on the same page and prepared to work together.

Building your PR campaign timeline

Just as you must be realistic when initially setting your campaign goals, it’s important to take a close look at all the steps you plan to take during a campaign and figure out how much time each one will take. 

Although every PR campaign will be different, here are some typical stages you’ll want to account for in your timeline.

Strategic planning

One of the most fundamental components to PR success is setting aside time for strategic planning. This first stage is typically where you will write up your full PR and marketing plan, establish what your tactics will be, and determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to measure success.

Make sure to set aside enough time for this stage of the process and set a date to finalize and share your plan with your client.

Preparing materials

After you’ve created your PR plan and gotten the go-ahead from your client, it’s time to start creating the materials you’ll need to get the job done. 

What these look like will vary based on each individual campaign, but this is the time to make sure you’ve finalized your key messages. This might include drafting pitches or press releases for the media, writing articles for the company website or guest blogs or creating social media posts.

Message distribution

Once you’ve created your key messages and prepared any materials you might need, it’s time to start spreading the word. While planning, you should have established your target audiences and already have a good idea of how you can reach them. 

Some tactics you may need to plan for are: publishing website design and content changes made or new pages and posts, social media activation or media relations efforts. 

The distribution portion of your timeline will likely span the longest duration, depending on the tactics you’ll be using, and you may need to repeat some of these efforts over time.

Monitoring + evaluation

In order to know whether or not your campaign has achieved its goals, you need to continuously monitor your efforts and evaluate the return against the KPIs you established in the planning phase. 

This stage of your timeline may (read: should!) overlap the Message Distribution stage quite a bit. If you notice that your first few pitches seem to be falling on deaf ears or your social media posts aren’t getting much engagement, pivot your strategy a bit to try something new that might resonate better. 

When it comes to building your campaign timeline, it’s important to leave some room for flexibility. PR plans have a lot of moving parts, and sometimes things will shift. That’s okay! 

A helpful template for building your campaign timeline

Pro tip: use a tool that makes it both easy to create and to update your timeline throughout the duration of your campaign, to make life a whole lot easier. 

Download our Timeline Template and Sample Timeline to get started today!

What are your best tips and tricks for establishing a PR campaign timeline? Leave your response in the comments section below or tag us on social media using #solopr.

Photo credit: 123rf. | vinnstock