PR CAMPAIGN MEMO PROJECT: FIRST DRAFT
To repeat: remember that we are discussing PR campaigns centered on "earned media" -- that is, what used to be called "free media" (before PR professionals complained that there's nothing "free" about the news coverage they work so hard to earn the old-fashioned way). We're talking about the PR story we tell, through the media stories we get in print and on the air. We are not talking about the advertising campaign, or other elements of the marketing campaign, even though we make sure we are at all times in sync with those elements.
Political campaigns provide a good model for PR campaigns of other kinds. In this lesson we will use an imagined political campaign model, but you understand that the same principles apply to campaigns for other causes, as well as in the corporate world.
To develop a PR campaign planning memo you will need to follow these steps:
Identify a real or fictional political or
governmental figure that you want to work for. This is your
principal. He or she is the one who's signing your
paycheck. For example, you decide your principal is going to be Mayor Bob Brown.
Message Worksheet to determine a campaign message for
For example, Mayor Brown's campaign message (confirmed by
polling and other research) is "Mayor Brown is a tough,
determined, strong leader, and he has what it takes to handle the
urban crises that afflict our city. Nice guys are okay but they
make lousy mayors. Tough times demand a tough mayor, and Bob Brown
has what it takes."
This is a message you might develop for a mayor who's a
little rough around the edges, like former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New
York, or even Mayor Daley. Let's say he's being challenged by a
really sweet guy who promises to "change the tone" at City Hall.
The challenger is trying to capitalize on some public opinion that
Bob Brown is an ill-tempered arrogant "boss," (which you privately
have to admit, he is). But your campaign can turn that image into
Keep in mind that you are free to improvise and
fictionalize circumstances for the purposes of this exercise... or
you can use real people and real issues as your subject matter --
it's up to you.
Look at several possible issues whereby that
campaign message might be communicated. Pick one and create a
theme. For example, the leading issues in your city
(according to polling and other research) are education, crime,
taxes and jobs (the economy)... these are the things city voters
want a mayor to confront. Pick one. Let's say you pick Education.
Now, using your imagination, pretend that the education issue
for voters in your city is whether to raise property taxes to pay
for educational improvements. Mayor Brown's position is that he
supports a tax hike. This is a tough sell -- a platform calling
for raising taxes is probably not a great idea. So how do you
develop this theme?
A possible solution: "Tough challenges require tough
leadership. Everyone knows we have to find the money to guarantee
our kids the education they deserve -- and create productive
citizens for the 21st century. Few politicians are willing to bite
the bullet and face these challenges head on. Mayor Brown has the
leadership skills to give us the sound fiscal foundation we need
to improve our schools."
Plan a media event (i.e., a pseudo-event) that
will work to put your message -- your theme -- your principal --
on the front page of the papers and the top of the nightly news.
For example, you might plan a press conference at the site of
a run-down school building, where Mayor Brown can stand up with a
couple of teachers and a couple of business leaders and pledge to
do "whatever it takes" to get this school -- and every school in
town -- up to par.
Your objective will be to communicate your theme through
the news coverage that ensues -- on tomorrow's front page, and on
the TV news tonight.
In your dreams, the lead paragraph on the news would be "Mayor
Bob Brown tonight led a delegation of parents, teachers and civic
leaders in a public commitment to quality education in our city.
Pledging tough leadership to meet the tough challenges, he said he
was committed to finding the money necessary to guarantee our kids
the education they deserve -- and create productive citizens for
the 21st century." Newspaper editorials will write, "Few
politicians are willing to bite the bullet and face these
challenges head on. Mayor Brown has the leadership skills to give
us the sound fiscal foundation we need to improve our
Write the memo
For this exercise, we're just talking about a draft -- four paragraphs.
(Note: this is extra credit, not a class assignment)
- First line = Date: July 13, 2017
- Second line = From: (your name)
- Third line = To: (your principal's name)
- First paragraph: Briefly make clear what the campaign
message is for your principal.
- Second paragraph: Write a description of the
situation -- a situation analysis -- detailed enough that another
student could quickly grasp what you have in mind. Just a
paragraph will usually be enough.
- Third paragraph: Tell how you will use your theme to
deliver the campaign message.
- Fourth paragraph: Suggest the news event you have in
mind, to publicize this position.
Following these steps will produce a one-page draft that will get you started. Now let's go on to the steps you'll follow to complete your PR Campaign Plan.
Go on to the next page.