PR In a Box?

Can good PR come in a box?Open_cardboard_box

In other words, can effective public relations be done so pre-planned and packaged that it literally can be delivered in a box? Before you respond viscerally and suggest a resounding no, recognize that we’re not the only ones pondering this question

Our 30 years of experience in PR tells us that effective public relations can come in a box. We’ve done it, to much good effect, and we know others have too.  So this post is about how, and under what circumstances, pre-packaged public relations can be accomplished.

Several years ago we worked under contract with a government agency that was opening numerous satellite offices almost simultaneously. Two things quickly became clear: Local staff were too new and too busy (after all, they were opening an office and gearing up for local operations from the ground up—think logistics, hiring, training, etc.) to handle additional preparations required for an office opening event; also, there wasn’t sufficient PR staff or budget to dispatch an on-site pro to handle every satellite event. What to do?

Here’s where our experience kicked in. We realized that when you have multiple events/activities, so similar in purpose, nature, format, goals, etc., and they are occurring repeatedly or quick succession, the process almost begs for a formulaic or template approach that borrows from previous experience. In fact, truth be told, most PR people would readily admit that success in one aspect of PR automatically provides a kind of template or reference sheet for handling a similar activity in the future. That’s the benefit of experience. Nonetheless, we clearly want to make the point that pre-packaged PR is clearly not all that’s needed for success. Implementation, and what happens on the ground, is still the key. What’s done by those charged with delivering on the pre-packaged plan is still crucial to overall success. So, these are the things that we think can be pre-planned, or created from a distance, and delivered in a box by thoughtful pros attuned to the local situation:

  1. Strategy: What is the situation on the ground and what role will this activity play in addressing the situation? What is the purpose of the activity? Its goals and expected outcomes? Who needs to be involved, and how should the event be orchestrated? The answer to these questions will constitute a plan and checklist.
  2. Messaging: What are the messages that need to be communicated during this event and who’s most effective in delivering those messages? The answer to these can be the beginning of a script.
  3. Project Deliverables: The culmination of the strategy and messaging as copywriting in final formats to be used on site, e.g., news announcements; suggested invitees and invitations; correspondence (letters of invitation and confirmation) event programs; event scripts (as needed); informational collateral as well as posted decorations or videos for on-site exhibition ; suggestions, advice or implementation tips, based on previous experience; scripted remarks for opening, transitions and closing. In some cases we know where suggestions have even been offered for food and menu selections.
  4. Methods of Evaluation: As always, it’s important that evaluation be part of prior planning. What will success look like and how will you know if you’ve achieved it? Benchmarks and methods of evaluation should be included—e.g., participant surveys, subscriptions or sign-up quotas; referrals; media participation and coverage, etc.

In our case, after disseminating these materials and following up with several teleconferences to discuss further planning, implementation and technical support needed, we paved the way for each office to have a successful event that met all organizational benchmarks, with a decidedly local look and feel.

So yes, we’ve learned that public relations in a box and be accomplished and achieve its objectives, if it’s well thought out, fits the existing situation, and is well coordinated on the ground for proper execution.

That’s an example of our experience. We’d love to hear yours. Send us your comments about PR in a box!

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