Strategy and Tactics in Public Relations 

9 mins read
Strategy and Tactics in Public Relations.

As a public relations expert, do you know the difference between strategies and tactics in PR? Just like how many people incorrectly confuse the terms goals and objectives, they also misunderstand strategies and tactics. It’s important everyone should distinguish and recognize the difference between these important PR terms.

Designing a strategy comes after defining goals and creating your objectives. Having strategies and tactics in place are essential to a company’s business plan, and, of course, they also play a crucial role in successful public relations. 

Developing a clear idea of your business strategy and tactics helps to stay focused and in reaching your company goals. In this context, let’s refresh your knowledge of what is considered strategy, what are tactics, objectives, measurement, and how those elements work together to provide a balanced plan document.

What Are Strategies

Strategies are considered general approaches used to achieve objectives. A PR plan typically contains three to eight strategies, depending on how difficult the objectives are. Strategies should be practical. The strategy should also explain how you will reach the objective and why you are taking that approach.

Strategic planning is an essential first step towards success in all areas of business. It is particularly important in public relations because ROI cannot be measured solely based on traditional metrics. A strategic plan makes sure that there is a common understanding of what you’re trying to achieve, how you plan to realize it, and how you’re going to measure success. Just check if you defined the difference between objectives, strategies, and tactics before starting the execution of this plan and diving into your next plan.

Example:

Let’s take an IT company, as an example. The business objective is to execute its sale at a good price next year. One of the strategies is to help raise a CEO’s profile among potential buyers. The strategy may include:

  • Share contributed articles with technology trade publications to establish the CEO as an industry thought leader.
  • Participating in industry events as a speaker to make the CEO known among key audiences.

What Are Tactics

Tactics are the activities that you or the team will execute to implement each strategy. They are the day-to-day steps that will move the brand forward towards reaching its business or PR objectives. Each tactic should help answer the question, what is the step we will need to take to carry out successfully the strategy?

Example: 

The tactics to make our strategy successful (to promote the CEO’s profile) include a distribution of the contributed content include defining an article topic, interviewing the subject matter expert, writing the article, pitching it to targeted news outlets (or using the PRNEWS.IO service), and making sure it is showcased on the company website and chosen media.

StrategyTactics
Definition Overall plan that can include several tactics to achieve the objectsThe tools or the activities that you or the team will implement to carry out each strategy.
Question Why How 
Action Planning Doing 
Scale Large scaleSmall scale
Planning periodFuture-oriented, long periods of timeVery soon, now
Opportunity to duplicateDifficult to copyEasy to copy
Example Take part as a speaker in 10 professional events.Become a participant of a special professional association to get help and access to big industry-important events.

Some PR managers are using public relations tactically and are missing the strategic planning aspect and don’t use all the true power of PR. The management PR function is all about creating a strategy. It makes it clear what objectives you need to be met to help the brand achieve its mission. 

Strategic planning helps to analyze and get information and covers the internal and external resource assessment. Strategic planning can provide an overall direction to the core management of the company, while also orientating and helping such areas as financial strategy, marketing strategy, organizational development strategy, human resource strategy, etc. to achieve success. What is all about the management function – understanding where the company wants to come and what it wants to achieve, and then being a consultant to help the brain succeed.

What Is Measurement

Both strategy and tactics in PR can and should be measured. One difference between the two is that while your strategy should not change, your tactics might be changed and adapted. If one of your tactics was to contact 50 influencers in your industry space and you’ve only managed to involve five of them, you might need to change tactics and concentrate on influencers in the nearest industry, rather than your specific one. While the strategic component of engaging influencers is constant, the tactical execution might need to change if you aren’t seeing results.

Selecting key performance indicators (KPI) and directing strategy back to business goals is crucial when choosing your KPIs. You’ll be estimating the success of the overall strategy at the end of the period. Measuring tactics will be an ongoing element of your measurement effort, and you’ll be looking at those results over the course of the PR program execution, which will give you an opportunity to see if tactics need to be adjusted or changed, depending on their results at helping you to reach your program goals.

Example:

In some cases, some of the more complex tactics require a strategy themselves. For example, search engine optimization (SEO), contains setting up its own strategy in choosing keyword research, content creation, and link building, and is thus interlinked with other tactics. In fact, none of the tactics are totally isolated.

The way you measure the results of those campaigns needs to be reflected, and the campaign objectives will tell what you should measure.

What Are Objectives

Objectives are tangible and should be reachable within a year or two. When setting up an objective, remember the SMART acronym: if it’s specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented.

Many PR plans cover two sets of objectives – the company’s overall business objectives and the PR objectives that will help reach them. Adjusting the business objectives ensures alignment on the company’s short-term goals and makes it easier to see how the communication objectives suit the company’s strategy.

Example: 

If a technology company’s business objective is to promote the company, build its strong reputation to be sold high in a year, one of its PR objectives may be to raise the CEO’s image among potential shareholders.

To Sum Up

The area of public relations is much more complex than it is considered. Many people confuse it because they think tactically and not strategically. Having well-defined objectives, a strategy to achieve those objectives, and choosing the appropriate tactics to implement the strategy are all important elements of executing a solid PR program. Knowing and understanding how these are different components that work together should be in the back of every PR professional practice when proposing plans to their clients or company.

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Nastya Zelenovskaya

Content marketing manager at PRNEWS.IO.

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