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How to use the SWOT Analysis for your PR
Communications – PR, Social Media, Content Tools 5 November 2019

How to use the SWOT Analysis for your PR

Well analyzed is half communicated – this is not a saying just yet, but it should become one, because it is definitely true in the communications industry. Before you even brainstorm the topic of the first press release for your company or your customer, it’s time for a SWOT analysis. This cryptic abbreviation refers to the analysis of a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Risks. The tool was developed at Harvard Business School in the 1960s to precisely break down the market position of companies. Of course, a SWOT matrix can be used in general. However, since PR is your bread and butter, you should also approach this analysis from a communications perspective. Only if you know where your company or customer stands at the moment can you develop a well-founded communication strategy based on this.

Internal, External, (S)WOT the Hell?

A SWOT analysis is divided into two parts.


First, the internal analysis, where you get to the bottom of the company’s strengths and weaknesses. These characteristics are self-made, which means that they can change over time from within the company. Consider three or four of the company’s competitors or customers. What differences are there, for example, in terms of the product range, the website, the service? What does your customer offer that the competition may not be able to provide? Once you have gathered this information, the next step is to consider whether these are strengths or weaknesses for your company.

Example: You are the owner of a small café and because you are open seven days a week, you work a lot. You can therefore invest very little time in your website. However, you like to take photos and regularly post impressions on your café’s Instagram channel. A competing café chain, on the other hand, has a high-end online presence. The fact that your website only contains the bare essentials is a weakness at first. But if you link to your lovingly maintained Instagram, your social media presence will become a strength that sets you apart from your competitors’ zero-eight-fifteen website and attracts new guests.


In the external analysis, you deal with the environmental conditions. This refers to changes in the market as well as in the technological, social or ecological environment. External conditions are beyond the control of companies, but they can observe them, ideally anticipate them and adapt their own strategy accordingly.

Example: A new egg scandal is rocking the media landscape in Germany and consumer awareness of animal welfare and husbandry is on the rise. But because you have been buying organically reared animal products since day one and communicating this to the outside world, your high moral standards set you apart from the competition, who are now more likely to treat themselves to your flat white and decadent death-by-chocolate brownie.

One and one put together

Once you have compiled the results of your analysis, you should then examine certain combinations of factors in more detail:

  1. SO combination: What is the relationship between strengths and opportunities? How can strengths be used to increase the realization of opportunities? From this, you can derive specific recommendations for action or topic contributions.
  2. ST combination: What dangers can you counter with the company’s strengths? How can you use your existing strengths to prevent certain dangers from occurring in the first place?
  3. WO combination: How can you turn the company’s weaknesses into opportunities and ultimately even strengths? The answers you will find can show the company new possibilities and ways forward, and will be of use to you later in the argumentation of your texts.
  4. WT combination: What are the company’s weaknesses? What risks or damage are more likely to occur as a result? How can you protect the company from this damage?

Analyzed, and now what?

Once you have clarified these questions, you can use your findings to define concrete measures for implementing the opportunities and suitable key figures for monitoring progress and success. However, because the framework conditions and the company itself are constantly changing, you should carry out a SWOT analysis once a year.

The SWOT analysis is an essential tool for your communication work. If you know exactly where the company’s strengths lie, you can emphasize them through clever communication (and not just once). Approach relevant media and offer your expertise in the form of guest articles, case studies or interviews. You are prepared for risks for your company or customers and their potential impact and can take immediate communicative countermeasures if necessary.

If you have been doing PR for companies or clients for some time, the SWOT matrix is a useful monitoring tool for you. Take a look at last year’s results: Did your strategy pay off? Have you successfully positioned the company based on the results of the analysis? If you have done your analysis homework properly, the answer to all of these questions will surely be: Yes, I have.

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