PR Campaigns (an overview)

The working definition of a campaign is that it is a systematic set of activities, each with a specific purpose associated with an issue. But, let's take a moment to break that down a little more. Common things, the tasks associated with daily life for a sport PR practitioner, are called programs. Tasks like writing releases, updating and disseminating statistics and records books, fall under this category.

Campaigns differ in the following ways:
  • They have a specific objective and not just a broad goal that overarches why we do something (we update stats because that's part of a good media relations program for our team)
  • They address one issue that usually isn't an overall relationship-building task (we may target one public over another, but the campaign isn't carried out simply to improve a relationship like perhaps a PR project might be)
  • They have a timeframe.

Program and campaign comparison

A PR program focuses on key publics
A PR program usually emerges as an ongoing task because it helps build and foster desirable relationships
A PR campaign focuses on a specific issue
A PR campaign has a specific, measurable objective that guides it
A PR program is ongoing, forevermore, always …
A PR campaign has a defined schedule that is considered short-term (although one campaign that we'll investigate has gone on a long time, you'll see that it's really a new campaign every time they launch it)

The campaign structure

Public relations professionals generally agree that there are four phases for a campaign. They don't always agree on what to call those four phases. Here's my terminology for the four phases and then the steps associated with each (from Smith, 2013) are presented:
  • research
  • strategy
  • tactics
  • evaluation
In a campaign, we perform all the phases and steps.
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Investigate some PR campaigns

Click each link to look at some sport industry campaigns.
Heisman Campaigns 
This is commonly used to describe what a sport PR campaign is, but often students have no idea what that is or what's involved to make it happen.

The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the national player of the year in FBS football. It is voted on by media members. (Yes, media relations, while not a focus for a campaign, still plays a huge role in the successful conduct of a campaign.)

Here is a link to a mainstream article that describes one author's opinion about the 7 most successful Heisman campaigns. (The author calls them "marketing ploys" but by our definitions, they are PR campaigns.)
P & G's Campaign 
Sometimes a campaign is so successful, that it gets updated and repeated. "Thank You, Moms" is such a campaign. You likely know what I'm talking about even without links.

A case study example will be provided in BB for you to read. Here is a link to a page for you to review and here's a website that helps maintain the results of the campaign.

LINK 1 - Rawlings Gold Glove

This site will allow you to explore all the Rawlings Gold Glove winners in an interactive way. It is a great example of a tactic used by a major brand to reinforce its product with the award it sponsors.
Sports Matter 
One of the best, most sustainable examples of an integrated campaign that is making a difference. Spend some time and connect to your humanity.

LINK 1 - Sports Matter