Understanding the ROPE Formula in Public Relations

The public relations industry continues to evolve as new media are introduced and technology changes the way people access and share information. Still, no matter how they are executed, successful PR campaigns rely on careful planning. The ROPE model of public relations is a helpful format for preparing and putting into action targeted PR campaigns. ROPE is an easy-to-remember acronym for its four-step process: research, objectives, programming and evaluation. ROPE can be modified to fit many specialised areas of public relations including employee relations, integrated marketing communications and crisis communication.

Research your client and audience to discover areas for action. In the ROPE model, there are three elements of research. First, there is a client or institution that has an opportunity or problem --- the second element. Finally, there are one or more audiences that are affected by this problem. Client research includes determining the credibility with the audience, past issues and strengths and weaknesses. In opportunity or problem research, consider the timing of the issue --- opportunities make for proactive planning, problem situations require reaction. Once you identify your specific audience, research it further to determine why it is important to you, what type of media it uses most frequently and find leaders or key constituents.

Form objectives or determine goals you intend to reach with your campaign. According to the authors of "Public Relations Case Studies," in public relations, "objectives are viewed as the central and guiding element in the process, and they are arranged in hierarchical order." Your objectives should target the audience and mediums identified during the research phase and should be designed to inform or modify the behaviours of the audience. Objectives could be increasing sales by a certain percentage, increasing satisfaction or approval rating, getting guests to attend an event or other quantitative -- or qualitative -- goals.

Develop and implement programming. Programs could include a special event, such as a news conference, a seminar or open house. Or, they could include theme and message objectives involving a media campaign with advertising, news releases, public service announcements, story pitches, broadcast interviews, social media, blogging, direct mail and/or editorials.

Evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign. After a PR campaign is executed, it should be measured. If the objectives were quantitative in nature, the numbers can be measured to see if goals were met. Other ways of evaluation are audience polls and surveys, number of media hits and attendance at an event. Understanding the effectiveness of your campaign allows you to plan future programming or tweak existing campaigns to get better results.

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About the Author

Since 2000 Donna T. Beerman has contributed to newspapers and magazines. Her expertise includes higher education, marketing and social media, and her presentations and writing have won industry awards. She has an MFA in creative writing, is the integrated marketing manager at a Pennsylvania college and founded "Hippocampus Magazine."