The communications media – television, radio, daily and weekly newspapers, special market publications & newsletters, and the Internet – are the links joining your message with your target audience. Successful public relations and publicity are a matter of selecting the appropriate link to bring together a well developed message and carefully chosen audience. An effective public relations effort, then, can be achieved by following a four-step process:
- Clarify your message
- Identify (and know) your audience
- Choose the appropriate medium
- Follow up
Clarify Your Message
The first goal of any project should always be to communicate specific information to your audience. Clarifying your message in the beginning will ensure that all project participants understand and agree what is to be communicated. Clarification also helps maintain a clear focus for the duration of the project.
Identify (and Know) Your Audience
The second part of developing your message is to determine your intended audience. Doing so will greatly affect how you word your message and what medium you use.
Recognizing that every person is different, both print and broadcast media target their content to specific markets. Similarly, your organization serves particular markets in the community and it is to those people you want to direct your communications efforts. Knowing your audience’s needs and interests is crucial.
Choose the Appropriate Medium
Once you have targeted your audience, your next step is to determine where these people live and work in your community and what media can reach them most effectively and efficiently. Since print and broadcast media appeal to different groups of people, it is important to know which types of media “speak” to which kinds of people. Using a mixture of media can increase your opportunities to reach a particular audience and may, since there is considerable overlap, offer important reinforcement for your message.
Since your message will be competing with many other newsworthy events, simply sending a well-written news release or a clever public service announcement to the appropriate media sources will not guarantee coverage. It is highly recommended that you follow up every request for coverage with a telephone call to the media representative to whom the material was sent. From this contact, you can determine if coverage is planned and in what form.
Establishing and maintaining a good relationship with the media will increase your chances of getting helpful coverage when you need it. (See Media Relations Tips) Develop a relationship with a particular person for each media. If the media knows who you are, you gain credibility. Also, keep the media informed of the activities and accomplishments of your organization. This will build awareness and increase the stature and credibility of your agency.