Public Relations Writing: Lesson #14 - p. 4

PR Campaigns (continued)

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:

Principal:

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.

Campaign message:

Use the Message Worksheet to determine a campaign message for your principal. 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 an asset.

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.

Theme:

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."

Event:

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 schools."

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.

<< previous page next page >>