How to Write a PR Proposal

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A woman is giving a business presentation.
A woman is giving a business presentation. (Image: TongRo Images/TongRo Images/Getty Images)

When businesses need an outside public relations firm to build a PR campaign, they often request bids from a number of competitors. To land the business, you need to present the company with a PR proposal that includes the company’s goals and objectives, target audience and media, recommendations, timeline and budget. Before you write the proposal, however, you have work to do that includes research into the specific business, the industry and market as a whole, as well as the various ways you might approach the project.

Get to Know the Client

One size does not fit all. Before you can even consider a PR campaign, you’ve got to spend time getting to know your client. Hold in-person meetings with the principals and managers in the company, then follow up with emails and phone calls until you have a solid grasp of the company culture, its general communication style and community reputation. For example, you wouldn’t want to put together a formal, "Wall Street Journal" type of campaign for a folksy, family-oriented business, or vice versa.

Understand the Current Marketplace

Once you’ve got a good idea of the tone that your proposal needs to take, frame it in the context of the current market. Perform an analysis of the competition and what kind of advertising and marketing it's using. Understand the target market and how it is getting its information. For example, if the target is young adults, you‘ll need to include a social media aspect to your proposal. Seniors, on the other hand, will not respond as well to a hard-hitting social media campaign.

Outline Your General Approach

Before putting together the final proposal, create an outline of the necessary parts. In a larger market, with substantial competition, for example, you may need to include an extensive history of your own company and successful campaigns you’ve initiated. Before the final phase, decide how much detail the client needs to know about the competition and any analyses you’ve created. As you’ve gotten to know the client well during your research phase, you’ll also have a keen understanding of the best format in which to present the proposal. Whether you need to provide a narrative, brief bullet points or a package with graphs and charts will depend on the client’s preferences and style of operating.

Include the Basics

A PR proposal needs to highlight your ideas without giving away so many of the details that the client can take the proposal and implement your ideas without you. Include information about your company, with appropriate references, as well as a summary of the proposal and what you believe are the main points the campaign should tackle. Give a few examples of media you might contact as well as what top messages you will be putting out there. Include a timeline of the projected work as well as what services are covered under specific fees and expenses. Conclude with a closing statement that tells the client how you look forward to working with her and how sure you are that you will have a positive and prosperous relationship.

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