Chapter 18

Class notes

Chapter 18
Planning Programs and Campaigns

Wilcox, D.L. & Reber, B.H. (2015).  Public relations writing and media techniques (8th ed.).  Boston, MA: Pearson (ISBN:978-0134010496)

Value of Written Plan

  • Many parts to a program or campaign
  • A plan is a blueprint of an entire program or campaign

Creating a Public Relations Plan

  • A plan is base on becoming throughly familiar with the organization and its business goals
  • It it necessary to conduct research in the form of a literature search, market studies ands surveys to determine the proper audience and exact message

Elements of a Public Relations Plan

A program plan has 8 main element


Meeting with client, gets people involved and find out basic information.  Meeting with client help to identify the problems and opportunities of the organization.  Establishment of the campaign’s objectives, but can change as the campaign develops, information is gathered.

Discuss with client – Ask client they expect to accomplish.    

Do your own research and evaluate your ideas in the broader perspective of the client’s  business plan.

NOTE:  Some organization’s situations are a remedial situation, meaning there’s a public image or reputation problem.  Most cases to increase public awareness, increase or advance a reputation or attract new customers or clients.

Example:  Page 324, Airbnb, booking site to stay in someone’s home, apartment or bed and breakfast, some cases hotel, increased brand awareness with a campaign to pay it forward, offered 100,000 customers, $10 to strangers to do a random act of kindness.  The core of Airbnb’s business is to offer hospitality to a stranger.

Include SWOT Analysis :  Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. See page 324


This could be to inform a specific public or publics about important message, why it is important or helps to set aside or make special notice.

Objectives can be informational or motivational, depends on desired results.

Creating publicity is not a valid objective, it only a means to the end.

The real objective is to create awareness among consumers about the availability of the new project and to motivate them to purchase it.

When you understand a situation, it should be easy to understand objectives.  Ask yourself:  Do the objectives really solve or help the problem.  Are they realistic and achievable?  Can success be measured in terms meaningful to the client?

Measurable objective


Not great or  now no measurement:  To increate the number of people who believe that carpooling is a good way to save energy.

Motivational objective:  To increase the number of people who use carpooling.

Better objective:  To increase carpooling by 50 percent.

Example of objective: (page, 322) Foster Farms’ campaign objective was to inform consumers on the West Coast of a special certification from the American Humane Association, AHA, of all its facilities, using the certification to differentiate from competitors and of the farms as a premium brand, raise the bar of humane treatment of animals in the poultry industry.

Additional – Marketing related:  see page 326

Efforts to inform, persuade or motivate people can contribute to increases sales of a product or service.  A public relations plan, especially with product publicity, can have a large contribution to fulfilling marketing goals, meaning sells.

A public relations campaign can help marketing by:

  • Develop new prospects for new markets, people who saw or heard about release of a new product
  • Develop third party endorsement:  newspapers, magazines, radio, TV – via news release, community involvement and plans.
  • Generate lead in trade press
  • Open way for sales calls
  • PR campaign help stretch advertising dollars with timely and supportive news releases
  • Can help establish organization  as an authoritative source or information on a given subject.


Identify, as precisely as possible, the group of people to whom you are going to direct your communication.  Think about if this is the right group.  If several groups, what’s the most important for your client?

No such thing in public relations as the general public, must be specific.  Audiences must be clearly defined.  A specific audience is defined by income, interests, geography, lifestyle and more.

Likely could be a primary and secondary audience.


The broad thinking giving direction to a public relations program.  Strategy is based on research and reflects audience self-interests.  Strategy describes how the objective is to be achieved.  Strategy is a plan of action that provides guidelines for selecting the communications activity you will use.  Usually one or more strategy for each target audience.  Strategy can be broad or narrow, depending on the objective and audience.

Strategies must:

  • Reflect the audience’s self-interest
  • Must be expressed in simple terms as key selling propositions, clear and simple. 

Examples of strategies, Lay’s potato chips, page 324, 325

  • Introduce nutrition influencers and media to chefs who will demonstrate the use of all-natural products
  • Announce the new all-natural product recipes via high-profile media coverage
  • Recreate a flavor kitchen to drive media coverage and support Facebook page


The how to do it, the exact plans. It’s a list of communication tools and actives used to support the strategy This is the body of the plan, the specific communications activities proposed achieve each objective.  Discuss each activity as a separate thought, but relate to the over arching strategy theme.  Make a list of communication tools:  news release, radio announcement, print, brochure, social media, blogs, media kit for journalists, photos and more.  Ask yourself if they will help reach priority audiences and accomplish your stated objectives.

NOTE:  A solid strategy will not substitute for an individual tactic.


It’s a timetable, likely outlined in a chart form, with start and completion of each project of the program.  Makes sure you begin projects, early enough and finish when needed. Page 329

Campaign Calendar must include:

  • When the campaign will start and end
  • Sequence of activities  – What will be done, when by specific people
  • Reach and frequency of the message – How often the message is sent out
  • Timing is everything for activities and messages.  Need to happen in the broad context of public interest and scheduled in advance.
  • Working Plan – Detailed calendar of activities and who is responsible for carrying the out.


How much will it cost to implement the plan?  Outline, in sequence, the exact cost of all actives.  Make sure that you include postage, car mileage, staffing and more.  Also, have a bout 10 percent set aside for contingencies.

Budget is:  Staff time and out of pocket expenses.

Detailed Budget – Staff and administrative expenses usually consume ore of the budget than out of pocket expenses.


Before you begin, meet with client to agree on the criteria you will use to evaluate your success in achieving the objective.  Evaluation needs to be realistic, credible, specific and appropriate to the clients expectations.

Refers directly back to your state objectives:  It is the process by which you determine if you have met you objectives.

NOTE:  page 324, lists an alternative plan with 13 steps.

  • Program is evaluated as a success if it meets the set objectives of the campaign.  Objectives must be measurable for the evaluation methods to be effective.

Submitting a Plan for Approval

  • A client or employer must approve a plan and it’s budget before any work can be done.
  • A written plan may start with an executive summary and then outline the steps that will be taken to execute the program.

The 8 Elements of a Campaign Plan

  1. Situation
  2. Objectives
  3. Audience
  4. Strategy
  5. Tactics
  6. Calendar (Timing)
  7. Budget
  8. Evaluation

Next steps – Preparing to submit proposal to client
After you have developed  your plan, all 8 steps, you will  need the following:

  • Title Page – Date, name of program/plan, client, organizations and team members
  • Executive summary – overview of the plan
  • Table of Content – name and page number to each section
  • Statement of principles – the principles situation  – The planner’s approach to the situation, example, integration with marketing, alignment of campaign and overall organization goals and more.
  • Capabilities, what’s possible, of the public relations firm submitting the plan.
  • The eight sections of the program plan from situation to evaluation
  • Conclusion, the summary of why this is the best plan an request for approval.

Before submitting, ask yourself:

  • Is situation clearly state?
  • Is audience correct?  Is there more than one audience?
  • Logical and effective strategy?
  • Message persuasive and memorable?
  • Tactics sound and effective?
  • Timing is right?
  • Costs reasonable and justified?
  • Proposed evaluation really measure results?
  • Evaluation linked to objectives?
  • Plan is practical and appropriate?
  • Plan is logical, strong and clear?
  • Need additions or deletions?