Understanding the ROPE Formula in Public Relations

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A public relations team.
A public relations team. (Image: oneblink-cj/iStock/Getty Images)

The ROPE formula breaks down the public relations campaign process into four sequential steps -- research, objectives, programming and evaluation. Using ROPE as a template from the start of a PR initiative helps you analyze, plan, implement and control your campaigns within a formal structure. This ensures that you focus on the company's needs and target the right audience in the right way.

Research: Gather Information

Before you start a PR campaign, you should understand the background behind it. The research stage of ROPE has three elements to help you do this. First, you identify the opportunity or problem that forms the basis for your campaign. Then, you ensure that you have a solid knowledge of the organization you represent, understanding its history, current position and future objectives. You also need to know where the company "sits" in its market compared to its competitors. Finally, you should research the company's audiences, taking time to investigate past PR initiatives and the way that external stakeholders, such as customers, feel about the organization.

Objectives: Set Your Targets

In the second stage of the ROPE formula, you set one or more measurable objectives for your campaign based on the opportunity or problem identified in the research stage. Typically, objectives are outputs, outtakes or outcomes. For example, an output objective might focus on achieving media coverage, an outtake on changing audience awareness and an outcome on an action, such as an increase in sales or web traffic. Your client may not be specific about what he wants from the campaign, but you should be. For example, if he tells you to build brand awareness with younger consumers, you could set an objective to increase Facebook Likes and social media interaction in the 16-25 age group.

Programming: Plan and Implement Your Campaign

Once you understand where your campaign should go, you must plan how to get it there and launch it. In the programming stage, you decide which PR communication tools to use to meet your objectives, taking into account the messages you need to convey, the audience you are targeting and the media you need to use to reach this audience. During this stage, you also set your budget. When you're done with your plan and your budget, you're ready to start creating and running the campaign.

Evaluation: Monitoring Results

Although you should monitor a PR campaign on an ongoing basis so you can modify it if necessary, you should also make a formal evaluation when it is done. This is the last stage of the ROPE process. During this stage, you go back to your original objectives and measure the results of the campaign against them to see how successful it has been. Or, if things did not go so well, you can look for pointers on where your plan failed. You may need to justify the results of the campaign to your boss or client; this is much easier if you have hard stats to back you up.

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