Laura Sutherland: How to make a business plan – specifically looking at how to integrate PR and communications

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Towards the end of a year, people tend to think ahead and are no doubt Googling ‘how to make a business plan’!

Firstly, before we go into how to make a business plan, let’s look at what we need to know to make a business plan. Here are 10 things you need to know and write down:

  1. Outline of the business, it’s mission, vision, values
  2. Goals – short medium and long term
  3. Audience/market – who are they, where do they ‘hang out’, what do they value, what are their buying patterns etc? Do you have market analysis?
  4. Outline of the products and services you offer
  5. Who is in the business and what do they do
  6. Business objectives to help reach the goals
  7. Financial plan – don’t forget to include cashflow!
  8. A top line plan of what is planned for 2018, including key milestones, dates, launches etc
  9. Considerations
  10. Risk assessment – what risks are there attached for the coming year and what will you do minimise risk, or if something happens, what’s plan B?

Are you still wondering how to make a business plan?  If you’ve completed above points, you’re almost there!

Don’t worry if you have some gaps. Public relations can help! You might find this previous post about corporate reputation will chime.

It’s hard to find the time for PR when you’re running a business. I get that!

  • Choosing what platforms to use, understanding how to use them
  • Knowing what content to create
  • Knowing what might be news, what might be useful or what might be an incentive to draw in new people
  • What journalists to engage and how to be featured
  • Following up and chasing
  • Designing and writing a regular email newsletter
  • Writing blog posts and committing to regular posts

It feels never-ending. It feels like you’re not in control and you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s ok. I can help!

10 steps to ensure you’re including public relations in your business plan

#1 Firstly, what do you want from public relations? Set objectives related to the business goals you’ve set.

#2 What does success look like? How will it be measured? Measurement needs to start at the beginning, not the end! Use this graphic as a guide

Now, what’s the return your need on your investment?

#3 Knowing your audience. If you don’t know your audience, how do you know what they want from you, what they value, what they like or don’t like? And if you don’t know that, how on earth do you know they need and want your product?

#4 Research to help inform strategy – such as SWOT analysis, industry research etc

#5 Set a strategy. How will you achieve your goals? It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It’s a statement of how you’ll see success.

#6 Knowing what tactics and platforms to use. Aside from traditional print media, what other platforms do you need to consider? Well, that all comes back down to your target audience. If your target audience is a business man aged 55, then I don’t suggest you use Snapchat! Knowing where your audience hangs out will help inform what platforms you need to use.

#7 Creating valuable and relevant content. Don’t create any old rubbish. No-one appreciates it and it will certainly do your brand no favours. Consider the audience and the platforms you’ve identified. If YouTube is a platform you’ve identified, then you’ll need to create compelling videos. If Instagram is a platform you’ve identified, then you need to be thinking about its functions such as stories, live and image/video posts, plus all the hashtags to use

A handy tip: New blog from Neil Patel about content promotion tools, for those with little time and budget!

#8 Plan. Create a workplan which encompasses your key dates and milestones identified within the business plan, then add in all the elements of the audience, the channel, the content, the message, timings etc. Try setting it out in excel if you don’t have access to any fancy tools.

#9 What resources do you have available – including the skills, man power and finance. Be realistic. We know nowadays you can’t rely on simply posting content. You need to have a budget to pay to reach your audience.

#10 Now, test! Test the strategy. Refine it. Test it again.

OK, so hands up who Googled ‘how to make a business plan’? And how do you feel now? Do you feel you know where your business is going and how it’s going to there?

If you need support in developing a business plan which integrates public relations and communications, I offer a consultancy service which is discreet and as a Chartered PR practitioner, I’m well placed to offer the highest level of advice, based on skills, knowledge and experience.

Thanks for reading my post. If you could take a minute to share it, I’d be really grateful.


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