Posted: 15.12.2017

Every year tens of millions of new businesses are founded all over the world. Sadly, many of them never see it to year 2, let alone year 3, 5 or 10. Obviously there are many reasons for this but one of the main explanations is their PR and Marketing plan, or lack thereof. Brands are simply not communicating to and not engaging with their target audience and therefore, they are not generating enough exposure and sales.

So what can we do about this? It’s pretty simple. You need to plan how best to reach your target customers. Obviously, beyond the plan you need to be prepared to dedicate some blood, sweat and tears, but with a clear idea of what you are going to be doing month-by- month, you’re already half way there!

People often ask how much time they should spend on promoting their businesses. The answer – ideally as much as you can but, if you can put aside 2-3 hours per week you will see a real impact.

After many years of working with some of the biggest brands and some of the most innovative startups in the world, I have managed to whittle down the basic PR and Marketing plan into an easy to follow guide. To start creating your strategy there are 10 simple things that you need to think about to make it as kick-ass as possible.

1. Plan, plan, plan

When you’re preparing for next year don’t just think about the first quarter and think you’ll fill in the rest later… you won’t! Block out 2 hours in your diary and take yourself off somewhere that will inspire you with ideas. Maybe you think better alone in a quiet space or perhaps a drink with friends’ kick-starts your creative juices? That’s fine! Do whatever works best for you to stimulate that inspiration!

2. What are you saying?

Before you go any further, you need to know what you want to say about your business and what is going to interest people about your brand over the next 12 months. Do you have a new product launching? Do you want people to see you as being an expert in your field? Are you opening a new shop? Launching online? Whatever it is spread the messages out throughout the year so that your business is constantly in people’s minds. Keep the momentum going! Also, bear in mind the yearly calendar. It sounds simple but think about it - there’s no point releasing a Valentines offering in March.

3. Be flexible

I know this sounds like I’m contradicting my last point but you’ve got to schedule in some spontaneity into your plan. It’s all very well having things laid out to the letter but if something happens in the world that you think you could use as a hook to promote your business, then keep your eyes open for those opportunities and use them!

4. What’s happening next year

Every year there are events all round the world that could help you to secure new customers. 2018 sees the Winter Olympics, the first 2 space tourists are set to fly around the moon, the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the World Economic Forum Meeting in Davos are just a few examples. These may not be relevant to your industry but see what’s happening that works for you and find a way to link that into your promotions.

5. Look at all the channels

Historically, when we put together a PR plan, it was all about which publications and TV stations would be interested in writing about our businesses. Nowadays you have to look at a much wider approach and incorporate a variety of different places to spread the word.

• Magazines

• Newspapers

• Radio

• TV

• Social Media

• Industry Events

• E-marketing campaigns

• Blogs

• Paid promotions

• Events

Which of these are suitable for your business? You don’t have to do all of them but I would suggest whichever ones you choose as outlets for your business – put in the effort and ensure you utilize everything about them. The same can be said for if something isn’t working; change tack and look at it from a new angle. For instance, if you send out a press release and the media doesn’t pick it up; try a different subject line in your emails, look at some smaller publications, find journalists who have written about your field before. Do you research! The same goes for E-Marketing. If you aren’t getting the click through, maybe the subject matter isn’t of interest to your audience or maybe your email is a bit boring? There’s nothing wrong with changing approach but don’t give up! If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

6. Budget

The best PR doesn’t cost much money. This is exactly why I launched We have the philosophy that with the right story, told to the right people, at the right time can get key people talking about your brand. No need for that expensive PR agency!

What is important is that any money you’re spending on promoting your company is well spent and well planned. Too many businesses end up paying through the nose for last minute promotions that they could have got for a fraction of the cost a month earlier. Sure, there will always be things that come up last minute but use your contingency for that, not your main budget.

7. Partnerships

A great way of tapping into a new audience is by collaborating with other businesses that complement what you do. This way you can talk to their customers and vice versa. For instance, if you run a restaurant, collaborate with a local taxi company to offer a package of dinner and taxi home from the restaurant. You’ll be surprised at how many businesses are receptive to the idea of joining forces. After all, they are probably in the same boat as you.

8. Who are you talking to?

Whenever I start working with a new brand, the first thing we do is establish whom their ideal customer is. Think about the following points:

• Male or female?

• Age?

• Location?

• Job?

• What do they read?

• What TV programmes do they watch?

• What do they do in their free time?

Many of you are now thinking that you can’t narrow it down that far, that you have male and female customer, or they are all ages. The reason I like to do this is that you can establish who your core customer is and become really good at talking to them. Once you have nailed that, you can then reach out to other potential audiences but your brand messaging will be so much more effective if you get it right with the core.

9. Who’s doing it?

Once you have put your plan down on paper it’s of no use to you unless you action it. To make that happen, you need to decide who in the business is going to be responsible for its success. Maybe you are a one-man band and the responsibility is down to you. Maybe there are a few people in the business who can help you, or perhaps you have a dedicated team. Whatever your situation, just make sure that everyone is saying the same thing at the same time and you know who they are saying it to.

10. Write it down

Finally, write it down on paper. I just use a spreadsheet to map everything out but if it’s down on paper, everyone will know exactly what’s happening and when. If you’d like a copy of the template, drop me an email on

Good luck and happy planning!

PR in a Box is a technology, which helps small (and large) businesses to secure great press coverage and social media at a fraction of the cost of a PR agency. For more information, visit or watch our explainer video.