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Run a PR campaign

PR is an effective way of communicating your campaign in a different way to advertising. By using an objective third-party – such as a newspaper, magazine, radio, blog or social post – you can add authenticity. There are a number of PR resources on the Campaign Resource Centre (CRC) to help you get your message across.

At the start of any PR campaign, give yourself enough time to set your objectives. By planning at the start, you'll know exactly what you want to achieve and your messaging will be stronger and more consistent.

Your objectives may be to build brand reputation, increase campaign or brand awareness, or push a call to action. Whatever you want to do, setting achievable and realistic objectives is key.

Reaching your audience

Ensuring your activity is seen by the right people is essential to your PR campaign's success. By targeting relevant media and publications, along with supporting social media, your message will have a broad yet focused reach.

Choose channels that best reflect your target market's demographics and behaviours. Look at what sort of stories a publication writes about and the issues they deal with. Are they relevant to your campaign?

Creating your own press releases

The best ones have a strong story or campaign message for you to communicate to your audience or local area. Here are a few things to consider when creating your own press releases.

  • Create a media distribution list – how do you know your press releases are reaching the right people? Putting together a media distribution list, with contact details of key individuals, will ensure your press release has a higher chance of being written up.
  • Include case studies – having real-life examples can help audiences empathise with your subject as well as giving credibility and authenticity to your message.
  • Write in a simple format – do not try to write the whole article in your press release. That's the job of the journalist. A good press release contains the points they need to write a story – not the story itself.
  • Create an opening paragraph – summarise your message or story in one opening sentence or paragraph so that it's clear what your press release is about. Ask yourself: why would a journalist care about my story? Is it an important issue? Does it tap into a broader social issue?
  • Select 2 or 3 messages – by honing a possibly complex subject into 2 or 3 key messages you'll get better results. Make your copy short and easy to understand so that your reader knows what you want to achieve.
  • Be creative with content – make your press releases interesting and eye catching with a clear call to action (such as getting people to visit a campaign website). Many existing creative materials on this website can be included in your press releases.
  • Include a note to editors – if certain content is under embargo, or if you want to provide additional information as an incentive for publication, do this at the end of your press release. It's a great opportunity to give editors a reason why they should publish your story.
  • Know your deadlines – ideally you should give your story to the media at least 2 days before the embargo date so they have time to digest, plan and write it. Online journalists tend to work no more than a day ahead. Broadcasters work a week or more ahead. While magazines plan 3 to 4 months in advance.

Other forms of PR activity

Press releases form a major part of a PR campaign, especially for low-scale activity in local areas. However, if you are looking to make a bigger impact with your PR activity, and reach more people, there are other channels to consider:

TV and radio

If your budget allows, TV and radio can provide your PR activity with extensive reach and exposure, particularly for awareness campaigns. You can find campaign-specific ads on this website.

Events and conferences

Attending relevant events and conferences to speak with like-minded people can really spread your message. Word of mouth can be very powerful, as can creating key contacts within your industry. You can often also have stands at such events to give your campaign a platform.


PR activity is often part of a wider campaign that can potentially win awards. Entering your campaign for an award – and winning – is a great way to get your brand noticed and build your reputation.

Stunts and photocalls

These can be challenging and expensive to organise but a stunt or photocall (where press photographers take publicity shots) can create a strong image. If you want to really call attention to something, these can offer a greater impact than traditional news stories.

Social media

This website has various toolkits that can be repurposed for any social activity you do within your PR campaign.

Measuring campaign success

Evaluating the effectiveness of your PR campaign isn't always about hard metrics. Many objectives are about increasing awareness, improving your brand reputation and image or generating leads. In these cases, success is more defined in terms of reach. By asking yourself the following questions, you can start to measure these objectives and your campaign's success:

How many people bought the publication?

Looking at the sales figures of the publication where your press release is featured would give you an idea of reader numbers. Also look at whether the press release drove more traffic to your site, increased app downloads or got more email communication sign ups.

Can you link important dates to an increase in online traffic?

Matching the date of a press launch, media story or social media campaign to a spike in online activity can help show its success.

What are your campaign conversion rates?

Has traffic to your website been converted into sales, downloading, sign-ups or any measurable other call to action? You can find out more about how to measure this on the How to create an email campaign guide.

Are you saving money by using PR?

For example, could a bump in SEO (search engine optimisation) allow you to drop a search engine (SEM) expense?

Can you access quantitative data?

By doing surveys or customer interviews you can show the value of the social capital that you’re gaining through your PR and marketing.

How to evaluate your campaign

By using some of these methods, you can start to get more tangible metrics as to whether your PR activity achieved its desired outcome.

You can also compare your results by looking at similar campaigns on this website. Refer to our How to evaluate campaign performance guide for more information.

Last updated: 28 September 2023