Planning in PR

Foreward by Prof. Jerry Gana
Preface by Senator J. M. Kuye
Financial Environment
Public Finance
Financial Institutions
Public Relations Concepts
Financial Public Relations
Marketing Concepts
Advertising and Integrated Communication
In-House and Consultancy
Target Publics
Research in PR
Budgeting in PR
Planning in PR
Regulating Financial Information
Getting Started and PR Unit
Basic Functions
Requirement for Media Event
Annual Events
Social Responsibility
Information Technology
Reputation Management
Crises Management
Media of FPR
Corporate Identification
Building Brand
Membership of Professional Bodies
Conduct and Ethical Standards
Appendix NIPR Code
Appendix II: IPR Code
Appendix III: PRSA Code
Appendix IV: IPRA Code
Contributions and Reviews


A successful media campaign programme, whether setting up the PR Unit or general activities, requires effective planning and implementation. It is the method of performance from the beginning to the end.


Most of the time, a fire brigade approach always fails at the end of the day. It is for this reason that before an organisation embarks on any action, enough time should be devoted to planning.


A research may be conducted with suggestions and recommendations on how things should be done, but that is only a statement, which requires adequate strategy of accomplishing it through planning. It shows how reasonable and relevant the programme is to the organisation. This is a better way of controlling budget and time.


Planning can come in many forms. It may be long-term, short-term or impromptu. Whichever it is, it requires enough skill, knowledge and ability to carry out the programmes successfully. In public relations, some of the activities that require planning include the following:


(a.) Basic Media Routine: This is the way and manner the practitioner issues press releases, organises media interviews, press briefings, coordinates courtesy calls/visits and even how points and facts are composed for feature articles.


(b.) Events Planning: These are events geared towards attracting a large participation of target audiences. This planning is intended to outline the roles of groups or individuals at such events. It may include a product launch, trade fair or similar exhibitions, conferences, corporate donations, community relations and other related public functions like the meet-the-people/customers’ forum.


(c.) Futuristic Planning: Every organisation has a goal it sets out to achieve, and goals cannot be achieved in a short time, if it will take a long period. Therefore, for achievable, attainable and continuous objective, the organisation will require strategic planning to cater for every unforeseen and predictable circumstances within its environment. The moment a set goal is identified, then planning commences. 


(a.) Manpower: The major ingredients of a good plan include utilising trained professionals to brainstorm, propose and execute the planned programme. This may be the public relations officer.


(b.) Goals: Since we work to accomplish a particular mission, a target must be known and set. It is the basis for existence as it enables the organisation assess the progress of the programme.


(c.) Timeliness: The duration it should take must be clear. This may not apply to strategic futuristic planning. A project meant, for example next month, ideally must be planned well ahead of the time. It forecloses the duration and man-hour to be employed.


(d.) Material: Some programmes are capital intensive and require vital equipment for their success. This is where budgeting comes in. It involves costing such tools like cameras, computers, printing, transportation and such other requirements.


Planning is one of the five steps that should be followed in devising any overall communication programme, observed Quentin J. Heitpas in his article “Planning” in Experts in Action: Inside Public Relations. He demonstrated that planning is the middle of the programming cycle which has fact-finding, followed by research, planning, communication and measurement. All the processes perform significant roles in executing any programme.


The basic principle to a good planning is the realisation that there is the need for communication, which must be done through pungent research work, so as to understand problems and their solutions. It is based on the findings and recommendations that a plan of action can be outlined on a step-by-step approach towards achieving results.

Through a realistic approach, Quentine has suggested nine stages that will assist in careful planning. The steps are demonstrated in a diagram called The Public Relations Model.  The model starts from Structure Overview and followed by Set Objective, Define Public, Select Media, Develop Message, Establish Strategy, Devise Timetable, Structure Measurement and Prepare Budget.


The above planning model can be easily explained by taking a case study of a bank that intends to go into the newly introduced Universal Banking, which was approved by the federal government. The management of the bank decides to organise a press conference to inform the public on its new move. The following may be undertaken based on the model:


Structure Overview: The Press Conference must be seen as the right and appropriate channel to reach the larger or specific publics.


Set Objective: It assumes that at the end of the conference, the public would be adequately informed of the benefits of the universal banking in their banking relationship.


Define Publics: The specific publics to be reached must have been identified. Notable publics in this regard include the existing and prospective customers of the bank, finance community, which includes corporate organisation and business leaders. Those are targets who will benefit from the new service offered by the bank and which the bank hopes to generate profit from their interaction. 

Select Media: Even though all media are important as they satisfy their respective audiences, specific media may be selected based on their coverage, proximity, and their interest and editorial preference. Therefore, business magazines, financial dailies, professional journals on banking and related economic matters are ideal choices. Apart from regular dailies that devote about 65% of their reports to business like Thisday, National Interest, the elite business weeklies like Financial Standard, Business Time and others are irresistible for in-depth features on banks’ new services.


Develop Message: The bank must equip itself with the guidelines for the operation, and satisfy all the requirements of the apex bank and the legal authorities. The speech to be delivered and the message for adverts and commercials in the media must articulate the position of the bank and its ability to carry out the service. The essence is to win the public confidence and trust in the bank.


Establish Strategy: The conference may be held in a commercial or business capital where there are many potential customers. A city like Lagos where there is a large concentration of media houses, apart from being the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, may be ideal for timely and wider coverage. Other strategies that the bank may consider include radio jingles, supplements in the dailies and interviews with some selected media. Probable change of name to depict the new status of the bank, as it was the case when First City Merchant Bank changed its name to First City Monument Bank, is also necessary. If necessary, the logo of the bank may also be changed to make the public know that the bank is serious in its new endeavour.


Devise Timetable: All activities towards the success of the conference and the expected response should be timed to avoid clumsy and unnecessary obstruction. Invitations for media coverage should be dispatched some weeks before the day of the event with subsequent reminders through telephone calls and other appropriate channels. Press releases, jingles and adverts too should be timed accordingly. The programme may be held in the morning to enable some business editors who may research further, and photographers, enough time to process their pictures for the edition of their newspapers the following day. Organising the conference in the morning may also afford the electronic media enough time to edit the story for the day’s news.


Prepare Budget: All the activities above have financial implications either in fixed or variable cost. For full coverage with an expected favourable result, the cost of all steps of action must be carried out according to the need.

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