Choose Your Newswire

The news release has been edited, proofread and approved…now it’s time to issue the release “over the wire.” What wire service should you use? How much will it cost? Who receives the release? Understanding what you need and what your options are will enable you to make the best choice.


The leaders of the newswire market are PR Newswire and Business Wire. There have been several start-ups that have tried to enter the market in the past few years, including Market Wire, but for most PR practitioners, PR Newswire (established in 1954) and Business Wire (around since 1961) are the best options. Like comparable brands, the differences are minimal – both provide effective news release distribution and their prices are similar – the decision often comes down to personal preference.

How They Work

The wire services use several methods to ensure instantaneous (and simultaneous) delivery of your news release. Satellite, e-mail, fax and proprietary networks deliver your release to targeted media audiences literally at the press of a button. Using the same delivery network, most wires can also distribute photos, video, audio and other multimedia files.

Issuing a news release is as easy as e-mailing the document to the wire service, selecting a distribution option and requesting a distribution time. Plan on allowing one hour for the service to format the document before it’s issued. If you have a release approved ahead of time, you can send the release the previous evening, and specify a distribution time for the next morning.

While it’s easy to get a release distributed, it’s also easy to issue a release with a mistake or typo. The wire services do proofread news releases, but the safest bet is to have the right editing/proofreading mechanisms in place before the release is sent to the wire service. Don’t count on the service to catch mistakes.

Each service provides various distribution options targeting specific geographies (Northeast, Latin America, Asia, etc.) as well as industry segments (technology, energy, etc.). For example: If you’re a Massachusetts technology company making a personnel announcement, issuing the release on the technology “corridor” option via Business Wire will save you about $250 – and still get the release to the right people. Adding a New England distribution to the same release will add another $100 to your overall cost. So while you won’t reach the managing editor at the Sacramento Bee…she probably wouldn’t have covered your new VP of Marketing announcement anyway.

If you’ve got your heart set on distributing your announcement throughout the world, $6,000 (approximate) will get you full global distribution for a 400-word release.

Content for Newswire Stories

Who receives newswire stories? The media community remains the primary audience for newswire services, but distribution has expanded in the past few years to reach Internet portals, investors, financial and research databases, news and information sites and content syndicates. Even individuals can sign up to receive news releases.

What should go over the wire? When you’re determining whether or not a news release should be issued over the wire, keep in mind the following three questions:

  1. What is the “real” news value of my release? If it’s low, then spend less money and issue the release to a more restricted distribution list or just post it on your Web site or do an e-mail blast and save the money.
  2. Who are my intended audiences? If the release only relates to a certain geography, topic or type of media, only buy what you need.
  3. What are the most cost-effective ways to reach my target audience? Discuss your options with your newswire representative.


After your news release crosses the wire, how do you track where it’s been picked up? The wire services all offer quantitative measurement services – some for a fee, some free of charge. Typical measurement services include providing a list of sites that have republished the news release and reports to monitor who has accessed your release.


The Purpose of a PR Plan

Because the success of public relations is tied to public opinion, and because public opinion is a malleable, fickle beast, effective public relations must be ongoing and multifaceted. It must attack on many levels and continue to attack —like germ warfare. Another (nicer) way to think of it is the way a bee pollinates a hydrangea bush: it flits here, there, then back again, never stopping, relentless in its duties. A large organization might need to employ many bees, one for each major division or product line. For most small businesses, one bee will do, and if you’re in charge, guess who that bee is? (If the antennae fit…)

To ensure that your public relations activities are focused and effective (and to avoid that terrible buzzing in your head), a system is needed. This system is called the PR campaign and it is detailed in the PR plan.

PR plans come in many shapes and sizes, and vary from brief and informal to “Where’s the forklift?” But basically, all PR plans attempt to answer three questions:

  1. Where are we now? (Situation Analysis)
  2. Where do we want to be? (Goals and Objectives)
  3. How do we get there? (Strategies and Tactics)

In addition, all PR plans should contain the budget for the plan, and a method for measuring and documenting the plan’s success.

A PR plan may be geared toward improving a company’s identity, promoting a product or service, or repositioning a product or service within a market. How detailed a plan your company will need depends on your own situation and objectives.

PR plans provide a way to identify your goals and keep you on track in meeting those goals. It’s how all smart bees make honey.

This article reprinted with permission from Yvonne Meacham Buchanan,

All About Media Kits

What Is a Media Kit?

A media kit, sometimes called a press kit, is simply an information packet about a business or product. It is called a media kit or a press kit because many times potential advertising mediums will ask for more information on the potential advertiser. Since most of this advertising is press- and media-related, the term media kit was adopted.

A press kit is like a resume for your company. In it is a collection of company information and articles put together to address questions from the media, investors, potential clients and others. The goal of the press kit is the same as all other marketing that a company does. It should grab the reader’s attention, make a lasting impression and create enough interest that they will contact you for more information.

What’s in a Media Kit?

There are many items that can go into a press (aka media kit) depending on the situation, the audience or the use. A media kit for potential investors is much different than a kit for potential clients. Although a press kit should be comprehensive, every promotional item or piece of marketing collateral ever produced by a company should not be included. Only put information that is current and most relevant to your target reader. When targeting media editors, be respective of their time.

Here are some ideas about what to include in your press kit. Of course, this is a comprehensive list and intended only to provide ideas for what is needed for your target audience. Do not include all of them in your press kit.

  1. 1 Letter of introduction: Sometimes referred to as the pitch letter, this first impression item is where you will grab or lose the reader’s interest. Tell them upfront why they should care about what you’re telling them. Provide a table of contents or a brief description of the items enclosed in the actual press kit. Let them know you are available for follow-up interviews and questions. Also make sure to include your contact information in this letter.
  2. Information on the company: This includes your company’s history, a company profile, and profiles of the chief officers, senior management and ownership. Include bio sheets, if appropriate.
  3. Product and service information, including a product, service or performance review: This will let editors see what others are saying about you or help the editor write his own review. This should also be supported with product or service fact sheets, sell sheets or company brochures that are specific to your product or service.
  4. Press releases: Many times, these are what instigated and caused the printing of the articles described above.
  5. Audio and video files of radio or TV interviews, speeches, performances and any other media-covered event: Hard copies will suffice if the actual media is not available. Today, some companies are now putting online audio clips on their Web pages and in online media kits.
  6. List of frequently asked questions: This helps the editor determine what questions to ask you in an interview or what to include in the article.
  7. Other items to include:
    • Brochures
    • Nonprofit and community-service involvement
    • Recent awards
    • Photos (if appropriate)
    • Factual background material and/or white papers
    • Specific information and schedules of upcoming promotions and events
    • Significant statistics specific to your industry, demographics and target audiences
    • Feature article material, such as articles written by company officers or senior management
    • Missions, goals and objectives
    • Camera-ready logo art

The Key to Getting Noticed

Busy editors sort through piles of press kits each day. Getting your press kit noticed is the key to publication and action! Remember, getting attention is important not only with audiences, but also with editors. Package your materials in a unique way and make sure the materials are presented professionally.

It’s also crucial to follow up to make sure your intended recipient received your press kit. Plus, follow-up calls provide the perfect opportunity for editors to ask questions or schedule an interview. Use this opportunity to build relationships with editors–in fact, doing so will improve your chances of publication or acceptance by your intended audience. But because the distribution of media kits can get a little expensive, you’ve got to make relationship-building a part of your marketing strategy.

The best thing to do right now is to start assembling part of your press kit, based on available materials. Then, add to it as you see fit and develop new materials. You don’t want to create a press kit at the last minute for the editor, investor or potential client who requests one.

The challenge is to put it together on paper, electronically or both. There is a trend now toward online media kits. A lot of these items can be developed for online distribution; it’s just a matter of putting what you already have online or onto letterhead and fact sheets.

Typically, the media kit doesn’t have to be as fancy as people think. Those requesting media kits just want information–not necessarily glitz. See what items you already have and then work on the rest.

Utilizing PR for Non Profits

Nonprofit organizations are faced with budget shortfalls year after year. And competition among nonprofits has never been greater. Yes, we said competition. It’s not a dirty word for nonprofits, though some may have you think it is. Every nonprofit out there is competing for donor dollars, media attention, employee and volunteer recruitment with other nonprofits. They are all worthy causes (or nearly all), or they wouldn’t enjoy nonprofit status. How is a donor to know which nonprofit to give his/her money to? How is a corporate sponsor to know which nonprofit star to hitch its big-name wagon to? For many nonprofits, the answers to these questions may be found through public relations activities.

Public relations offers a low-cost means for gaining public attention for nonprofit organizations. Through media relations (including, but not limited to press releases), speaking events, networking and fundraising events, nonprofit organizations can get rise above the fray and become noticed by the people who matter: potential clients, donors, volunteers and employees.

But public relations must be used selectively for maximum impact. Public relations activities are most effective when they help an organization present a cohesive whole to its public. For an organization to use public relations to stand out in the crowd, it must do three things in addition to providing quality services:

  1. Determine which 1-3 messages it wants to convey to the public.
  2. Develop a plan including a goal, objectives, target audience(s), strategies, tactics, budget and measurement to support the message(s).
  3. Implement the plan, conveying the message(s).

It sounds simple, and it is, but it does require forethought and an ability to stay on task. Every public relations opportunity should be viewed with the overall plan in mind. Does it contribute? How can we maximize its effectiveness? What groundwork should be done? What follow-up should be done?

Sharpening Your Boss’s Communications Edge

It may be hard to believe in this day of embattled CEOs, but some occupants of the corner suite refuse to acknowledge their communications skills need fine-tuning. Some executives practice avoidance even in the throes of a crisis.

As the PR pro in your organization, it is your job to persuade your chief to sharpen his ability to connect with reporters, shareholders, policymakers, and employees. If you fail in this task, you’re likely to take the blame rather than your boss.

Influencing The Executive Mind

How can you induce your leader to participate in a media or presentation skills training program? Start by pointing out the benefits both to your organization and to your chief on a personal level.
Position the need for training by telling your boss that he is nurturing an increasingly high public profile. What sufficed when he was a vice president is not good enough for him today. His prestige merits some individual coaching.

Appeal To The Ego

Remind him that virtuosos in every field employ coaches to help them improve. Baseball slugger Barry Bonds has a hitting coach. Robert DeNiro learns from acting coaches. Your CEO, even if he is a speaking superstar, deserves a trusted coach who can continue to advance his learning, too.
Your CEO did not roll out of bed one day with all the expertise needed to run your enterprise. Similarly, none of us are born with sparkling speaking abilities. Excellence comes only with practice.

Fortify Your Organization

Here are some pointers that can help convince your boss to follow the route to improved communications performance. From an organizational point of view, an executive media training or public speaking workshop can help:

  • Gain an edge on the competition.
  • Craft a magnetic message.
  • Reduce the likelihood that your next media campaign will fail.
  • Position your organization front and center in the minds of reporters.
  • Increase the odds for a successful new product launch.
  • Prevent your rivals from stealing your customers.
  • Prepare for a crisis situation.
  • Save time by hammering out messages and preparing in advance.
  • Avoid a sleepy media profile by going beyond the trade press to high-profile outlets such as The New York Times and CNN.
  • Maintain confidentiality when that is a concern.
  • Offer ongoing education to senior members of the executive team who work with the public or press.

Appeal to Your Leader’s Personal Goals

Your organization will reap the rewards when your executives have more communications polish. Yet it’s also important to remind your CEO that he will benefit on a personal level as well. Some of the personal benefits include the ability to:

  • Convey confidence during presentations and media interviews.
  • Work to correct a delivery flaw that makes him self-conscious.
  • Boost career opportunities.
  • Keep from wandering aimlessly when delivering remarks and talking to the press.
  • Steer clear of the dreaded misquote.
  • Assume control during question and answer periods.
  • Avoid the embarrassment of poor performance during a high stakes speech or interview.
  • Sharpen nonverbal tools for maximum advantage.
  • Take charge when dealing with reporters.
  • Refuse to be sidetracked by hostile or off-point questions.
  • Get the mistakes out of his system in the security of an executive training environment.

Final Considerations

As your organization’s resident PR pro, you need to recognize an added bonus that executive communications coaching offers you in your role as a key advisor. Every executive needs frank advice in order to achieve communications success. In the extreme, you might be dying to tell your boss to ditch that unflattering toupee. Or, he may have an annoying verbal habit. If there is a matter so sensitive that you dare not discuss it with him (perhaps because you’d like to keep your job), you can have trainers raise it as part of the preparation process.

Your boss’s workshop needs to be educational but fun, too. So tell your boss he will have some fun in the bargain.

Your executive may be hesitant to firm up his communications abilities. You
can help both him and your organization by serving as a catalyst for improvement. The benefits are many. Get to work to turn the boss’s “no” into an enthusiastic “yes.”


Crisis Communication Management

General principles that can positively affect your actions and communication in a crisis situation:

  • Bring the situation under control, if possible. Always protect people first and property second. Analyze the situation to judge its newsworthiness. Don’t create a crisis by jumping the gun. Many times the situation doesn’t warrant media attention.
  • Gather the facts – who, what, where, when, why, how, what next.
  • If necessary, activate your crisis management team. Act quickly; spare no expense to distribute the information you determine the media and others should have.
  • Give the media as much information as possible; they’ll get the information (perhaps inaccurately) from other sources.
  • Don’t speculate. If you don’t know the facts say so and promise to get back to the media as soon as possible. Then be sure to do so.
  • Protect the integrity and reputation of the organization.
  • Report your own bad news. Don’t allow another source to inform the media first.
  • Perform an act of goodwill during or immediately after a crisis when appropriate and possible.
  • Crisis communication planning can help you deal effectively with those unexpected disasters, emergencies or other unusual events that may cause unfavorable publicity for your organization.

Crisis communication planning can help you deal effectively with those unexpected disasters, emergencies or other unusual events that may cause unfavorable publicity for your organization.

  • Be prepared – Although emergencies by their very nature are unpredictable, it is possible to list and prepare for those potential negative scenarios that might occur during chapter activities. It also is possible to set up a communication system that can be activated in almost any emergency situation.
  • Do the right thing – In any emergency situation it is imperative that you put the public interest ahead of the organization’s interest. Your first responsibility is to the safety and well being of the people involved. Once safety has been restored, face the public and face the facts. Never try to minimize a serious problem or “smooth it over” in the hopes that no one will notice. Conversely, don’t blow minor incidents out of proportion or allow others to do so.
  • Communicate quickly and accurately – Positive, assertive communication focuses attention on the most important aspects of the problem and moves the entire process forward to resolution, even in a negative environment or with an antagonistic news media. Understand that media representatives have an obligation to provide reliable information to their audiences, and they will get that information whether or not you cooperate. If you won’t comment on the situation, you can be sure someone else will. You maintain control by making sure you are at least one of the major sources of media information in a crisis. Give factual information, don’t speculate.
  • Follow up – Make amends to those affected and then do whatever is necessary to restore your organizations reputation in the community. Change internal policies or institute new ones to minimize a repeat of the crisis situation. Also, revise your crisis communication plan based on your experience.
  • Before the crisis, successful communication will depend, in large part, on the preparations you make long before the emergency occurs.

Before the crisis, successful communication will depend, in large part, on the preparations you make long before the emergency occurs.

  • Having a system in place will allow you to deal with the situation at hand, and not waste precious time trying to decide how to communicate. An effective crisis communication plan puts you in control of what may be a very volatile and confusing situation.
  • Identify potential crises – Hold a brainstorming session with key members of the organization to identify those scenarios that might result in unfavorable publicity for your chapter.
  • Develop policies to minimize crisis situations – Try to anticipate potential emergency situations and develop policies to avoid them. In many crisis situations you will be asked by the media what policies you have on that particular situation. You do not want to be put in the uncomfortable situation of stating that you have no policy. Create a file of information that addresses potential crisis situations and keep it up to date.
  • Develop a crisis management team – Determine in advance a team to deal with crisis communication situations. Assign at least one individual to be a crisis communications team leader and have a back up. Decide which team members will gather information, notify families of victims, deal with emergency officials, and communicate with volunteers and staff. Determine a primary and secondary spokesperson to communicate with the media in crisis situations. Give these spokespeople media interview training if possible. Appoint people to monitor coverage in specific media outlets.
  • Assemble and organize resources – In a crisis situation you and your crisis communication team will want to have up-to-date and accessible information. Resource information may include: current list of crisis team members and alternates with work and home telephone numbers – each team member should carry the list; updated media lists; insurance company contacts; lists of emergency services such as fire, police, hospital and ambulance; a means to communicate with volunteers and staff (fax lists or a telephone network); copies of policies for potential crisis situations.
  • Develop and distribute an emergency procedures guide – This should be a short procedural outline applicable to most events and programs (or specific guides for each event or program). It spells out what volunteers and/or staff should do if an emergency occurs or if contacted by the media, and lists emergency service and crisis team numbers. In general, staff and volunteers should contact emergency services if necessary and immediately report any potential crisis situation to the designated members of the crisis team.

During the crisis, your focus is to deal with the situation, gather accurate information and communicate quickly.

  • Bring the situation under control – Before you do anything else, ensure the safety and well being of everyone involved. Always protect people first and property second. Call emergency professionals if they are needed.
  • Analyze the situation and gather information – Once the necessary safety and security precautions have been taken, get the facts from informed sources before responding to inquiries. Consider legal, ethical and organizational ramifications.
  • Don’t blow the issue out of proportion or allow others to do so. If the media contact you before you have had a chance to assess the situation and decide on a response, let them know when you expect to have more information – and honor your own deadline. Nothing is more likely to make the situation worse than an irritated reporter who has been left dangling with no information. You will need to find answers to some basic questions including: what happened? when did it happen? where did it happen? how many people are involved? where are those people now? how dangerous is the situation? what happens next?
  • Keep internal public informed – In addition to working with the media, a good crisis communication plan allows for communication with members of the organization. If the situation warrants, call a staff and/or volunteer meeting and provide appropriate information on the circumstances and the organization’s position. Or, your plan may call for the use of a fax or telephone tree system. The best policy, if possible, is to release information to people in the organization before, or at least at the same time, it is released to news media.
  • Communicate with the media – In general, it is good policy to release information about the situation as quickly as possible. Comments should be of a general nature until all the facts are in, but then it is far better to get the full story out as soon as possible. Return calls first to radio and television stations, then to newspapers. Reporters provide few surprises in a crisis situation.

Reporters provide few surprises in a crisis situation.

  • They want to get the basic information easily and quickly, usually with some kind of human interest angle. Print reporters usually will need and use more information than their colleagues representing broadcast media. Newspaper reporters are interested in basic facts for today’s edition and background and implication for tomorrow’s edition. Broadcast journalists, on the other hand, will want less but will be in more of a hurry and will seek more updates.
  • Sometimes the media will be on the scene. In other situations you will need to initiate contact. This should be done as soon as the basic facts are in hand. The initial contact should be followed with a formal statement, including any updated information and plans for investigating the incident. Media will expect: complete honest information; background material; some indication of how the organization intends to proceed; information about the impact on your staff and volunteers; regular updates and after-the-crisis follow up.

Your spokesperson should be forthright in dealing with media questions. There are, however, some questions he or she simply cannot and should not answer, including:

  • money estimates of damage
  • insurance coverage
  • speculation as to the cause of the incident
  • allocation of blame
  • anything “off the record”

Your spokesperson should not respond to media questions with “no comment” because this answer can imply a lack of cooperation, an attempt to hide something or a lack of concern. There are more appropriate responses when he or she either doesn’t have or is not at liberty to give certain information. Some examples might be:

  • “We’ve just learned about the situation and are trying to get more complete information now.”
  • ” All our efforts are directed at bringing the situation under control, so I’m not going to speculate on the cause of the incident.”
  • “I’m not the authority on that subject. Let me have our Mr. Jones call you right back.”
  • “We’re preparing a statement on that now. Can I fax it to you in about two hours?”
  • Keep a log of media calls and return calls as promptly as possible. A log can help you keep track of issues being raised by reporters, and give you a record of which media showed the most interest.

Good crisis management calls for open, honest communication with various target audiences.

During a crisis, however, this is most difficult to accomplish. As human beings, we usually seek ways to avoid or soften painful experiences. It is helpful to recognize some specific reasons people use to discourage open communication. These reasons are all logical, reasonable, and probably valid to some degree. Nevertheless, unless you deal with them effectively, they will become obstacles, making it extremely difficult to resolve the crisis.

  • We need to assemble all the facts – We do need all the facts; that must be a priority. However, we may need to release some information initially and be honest about the fact that we still are gathering information.
  • We must avoid panic – One of the best ways to avoid panic is to control the flow of information. We can establish and maintain our credibility as an information source only when we communicate openly and honestly.
  • We have no spokesperson who can respond – Crisis communication planning will identify spokespersons. The head of the organization is an appropriate general spokesperson for most crises.
  • There are legal issues involved – Legal issues often are involved in crises. Management must be willing to balance legal and public relations issues. The long-term health of an organization depends not only on a legal resolution of a specific issue, but also on the effective resolution of a crisis in the “court of public opinion.”
  • We need to protect our organization’s image – Open and prompt communication is essential to protect our image with the media and the general public.
  • We don’t know yet how to respond to the crisis – It may in fact take some time to develop a solution to the crisis. Part of the challenge and opportunity of the crisis is to show those affected that the organization is using a reasonable, caring process to resolve the crisis. We can show this process best when we are willing to communicate openly.
  • There is proprietary information involved that we cannot divulge – There may be information we cannot divulge, especially if there are consequences for a particular member of the organization. We need to weigh our decisions carefully, point by point, to determine if such a situation really exists, or whether we simply are making excuses. We need to remember that public safety must be a paramount concern.

After The Crisis

  • Declare an end to the crisis – It is most important for your organization to signal an end to the crisis situation.
  • Follow up – Stay in touch with the community after a crisis, especially with those directly affected. Keep the media informed of any updates in the situation, or let them know the crisis has ended. Review internal policies to try to avoid a repeat of the crisis situation.
  • Perform an act of goodwill – Do this during or immediately after a crisis when appropriate and possible.
  • Have a formal debriefing – Debrief members of your crisis communication team. Analyze the outcome and the media coverage – both positive and negative. Revise your crisis communication plan to reflect what you have learned.

Writing Bylined Articles

If you’re looking for a way to get your company’s name in the news and you’re unhappy with your news release results, you may want to consider writing a bylined article.

An article written by a representative of your company is called a bylined article. The “byline” is the place where it says “By _________” and lists the author’s name. A bylined article can be about trends or tips related to your industry: “How to Rid Your Home of Fleas,” or it may be an explanation of an industry process: “How Stock Brokers Earn Their Commissions.” Because it will be journalistic in nature, a bylined article should take into account the broader issues relating to your customers or your industry. It cannot be obviously self-serving, and in fact should not mention your company name (except at the brief bio after the article) unless it also includes the names of your nearest competitors. Any appearance of company bias may quash your chance of the article being published.

Usually a company’s public relations representative will probably write all of the bylined articles. However, members of your top management team have the credentials to come off as industry authorities, so they should be credited as the author.

Submit the article (with a cover letter) to your press contacts, but make sure you’ve first received and reviewed a copy of the publication’s writer’s guidelines, and adhere to these strictly. Some publications prefer not to receive simultaneous submissions, so try to determine the publication most likely to generate the publicity you want and send it there first. If they do not publish it, send it elsewhere. The process of sending and waiting for acceptance can take a while, so if an article you’ve written is especially timely and time sensitive, consider sending a query letter first.

Used appropriately, the bylined article can be an important tool in your PR toolkit.

This article reprinted with permission from Yvonne Meacham Buchanan,

Writing a White Paper

A white paper is a technical document about a product or service that describes the product or service to people unfamiliar with it. When writing a white paper, it is important to review it with the product or service developer to ensure its technical content is correct.

Here is sample template of a white paper:

[Brand Name Title of Product or Service]:
A Technical White Paper

[Explanatory title of what the product or service is (e.g., “A mid-level acoustic microphone”)] [Date, 2006] – [Description of product or service including specifications, explanations for technical terms, how the product or service will be used, and the product or service’s significance. Include subheads where applicable to break up text. Use a factual tone.] [Subhead 1] [content] [Subhead 2] [content] [Subhead 3] [content]

For more information, contact:

[include complete contact information of person who can answer questions about the white paper]

Creating a PR Plan

The public relations plan is the basis for your public relations program. Public relations plans can either be company-wide (improving the identity of a company) or they may focus on a specific product line, product or service. Below is a template of what a typical public relation plan would look like.

Executive Summary

Here you put a brief synopsis of what the plan is trying to address, and the timeframe involved in carrying out the plan.

Situation Analysis

Here you describe the situation in context of what the plan is trying to address. What is the current public opinion of the subject of the plan? How does it compare in the public’s eye to its closest competitors?


Here, put the single goal that would directly address the problem or opportunity identified in your situation analysis.


Three or more objectives will probably underlie the goal. These should be specific, measurable and attainable and have a specific deadline for completion.

[Objective 1] [Objective 2] [Objective 3]

Target Audience

List who your primary audiences are that you want to impact through this plan.

[Target Audience 1] [Target Audience 2] [Target Audience 3]

Key Messages

List no more than three key messages you want to impress upon your target audience. Too many messages create “noise” and confusion, reducing the possibility that your most important messages will get through.

[Key Message 1] [Key Message 2] [Key Message 3]


What methods will you use to get your message across? Strategies should include the broad who, how and what of accomplishing your objectives.

[Strategy 1] [Strategy 2] [Strategy 3]


Tactics are the specific action items you will take to support your strategies and meet your objectives. Each should include a deadline and cost estimate.

[Tactic 1] Deadline: Budget:

[Tactic 2] Deadline: Budget:

[Tactic 3] Deadline: Budget:

[Tactic 4] Deadline: Budget:

[Tactic 5] Deadline: Budget:

[Tactic 6] Deadline: Budget:


The total budget will be a single line item; individual expenses will be noted in the Tactics section above.


Once your PR plan is completed, evaluate whether your objectives have been met. If not, determine why. Add these to the measurement section and make it part of your completed PR plan for historical reference. For now, leave the heading in so you don’t forget to add the information later.

This article reprinted with permission from Yvonne Meacham Buchanan,

What Public Relations Does for Small Businesses

Small businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to achieving visibility. They don’t have storefronts on every corner; they don’t have huge advertising budgets; they don’t have a huge marketing department. Word-of-mouth advertising can only get them so far.

Public relations can be the champion of small businesses because it is an effective, low-cost way to get a business the publicity, visibility and “buzz” it craves. (Buzz is the noise your market makes when everyone’s talking about you. It’s a good thing.)

Following are three primary benefits of public relations:

  1. Public relations is the most effective way to form a favorable public opinion. Advertising won’t do it. Marketing won’t do it. Public relations will. Public relations helps form a favorable public opinion through “implied endorsement” of non-biased industry authorities (the press and trade analysts). Skeptical? Then consider this: Which holds more weight — an advertisement about a company’s new product or a positive article about the company’s new product? It’s easy to toot our own horn. It’s more difficult to get someone to believe you.
  2. Public relations costs much less than other types of promotion. Compare the cost of a direct mail campaign or a display ad in a trade publication with the cost of mailing a press release; yet the articles the press release generates may be viewed by a larger audience.
  3. Public relations can assist in recruitment and retention of quality employees. Employees like to work at a place that is well known and well thought of in their community; it gives them a sense that the company is solid and will be around at paycheck time.

In addition to the above, effective public relations can weather a company through many a storm. When a crisis occurs, a business that has the support of its community (something that cannot be bought through display ads or direct mail campaigns) has a much better chance of surviving with its image — and its company — intact.

Businesses that fail to create and capitalize on public relations opportunities are missing a big piece of the picture.

This article reprinted with permission from Yvonne Meacham Buchanan,