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How to develop a realistic timeline for PR campaigns

By Lisa Goldsberry

485110985Don’t let your PR campaign fail before it begins

All in all, there is no quick, magic formula for determining a timeline for PR campaigns. Everything depends on your company, your goals and objectives and the scope of each component of the project. A PR campaign can last from a couple of months to a year or more.

It may help to think of a PR campaign as being like a horse race: The actual event is very exciting, but making it successful takes the right breeding, proper care of the horse, ideal ground conditions, a great jockey and, of course, a sufficient amount of money. When you take the time to get everything in place, you can cross the finish line as a winner. It all starts with creating a realistic timeline.

Some common reasons to implement a PR campaign

  • To create public awareness of your company, its products and services

  • To attract more publicity and positive news coverage

  • You have an appealing (and newsworthy) event, product or program and you are looking for maximum exposure

  • To establish your company and/or CEO as a brand leader or thought-leader

  • To engage your customers for more dialog

  • To create good feelings about your company and brand among your target audiences

  • To combat negative publicity or to improve your reputation

Groundwork for a PR campaign

Before beginning a PR campaign, it’s important to set goals, be as specific as possible and make sure that your plans fit in with your companys overall strategic initiatives. Additionally, to be completely successful, your PR campaign should correspond with efforts from other areas of the company, such as sales and marketing.

Perhaps you first question should be “What do you want to achieve with the campaign?” To figure it out, it may help to start with phrases like We want to increase…or We would like to generate… You also want to make sure you understand what PR does and that your goals fall within the scope of your PR team’s capabilities.

Another point to consider is: What will success look like? You must put tools in place for measurement before you begin. This is the best way to ensure that you stay on track and can make adjustments if certain aspects are not performing as youd hoped.

It may also be useful to examine prior campaigns. What did you like about them? Did you meet your goals? What went wrong? What can you do to avoid past mistakes?

One of the most crucial aspects of planning a PR campaign is to make sure your goals are achievable. Setting unrealistic goals wastes time and money. For example, a campaign to increase your positive media coverage and name recognition is fine, but saying this must be done by scoring one article each month in the New York Times is not.

What you should include in your timeline

You have to allow enough time to achieve your objectives. However, it can be difficult to know what is realistic and what isn’t, especially if this is your first campaign or you’re working with a different PR firm. To create a timeline, you will need several key components. You must allow time for:

Planning This will serve as your guide throughout the campaign. Your planning should include what target audiences you want to reach and what message you want them to receive.

Preparing materials

Getting the message to the correct channels

Repeating the message as necessary


Evaluation – You can manage this through the use of surveys and other forms of feedback.


At Axia, we will work with you to develop carefully tailored PR campaigns that maximize your resources and make the most of your budget dollars. We will act as your trusted, strategic PR partner and use agreed-upon metrics to help you increase visibility, credibility and, most importantly, profitability. Contact us today or download our e-book Maximizing Your Public Relations Investment.


Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter at @axiapr.

Photo credit: ThinkStockPhotos.com

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