A new year means a fresh start, which can be both exciting and nerve-racking. It is like a fresh sheet of paper -- clean, undisturbed and full of possibility yet daunting, as that first mark/letter/word can direct the where everything goes from there.
While PR programs can and should be continuous from day to day, month to month, year to year, giving your team the opportunity to review and reset with the beginning of the year is important. We all tend to make resolutions with the beginning of the year, why not make some for your PR program?
Here are a few ideas and suggestions for possible PR resolutions for 2018:
Set realistic goals. This one can be tough as we all can get eager and overly ambitious on what is possible but in order to keep morale and energy high across the team and leadership, it is important to get expectations at the beginning of the year.
This doesn't mean you should sandbag your KPIs, but rather look at what can reasonably be accomplished with your current staffing scenario, budgets and other resources. It is also important to set a few stretch goals alongside what you think it totally possible. How can you and your team go above and beyond if the stars align?
What are your resolutions for 2018?
It's November 1. How did we get here already?!
The year has flown by but rather than panic about what has yet to be done, it is important to focus on what can be accomplished with the remaining two months of the year as well as what can be prepared for the year to come!
To have the most success with your PR team, you need to communicate with them.
This may seem like common sense when said out loud or written down, but then again, common sense isn't necessarily common.
Communication is critical to any successful communications program. The team needs to know what is going on with the company, products, customers, partners, leadership, etc. They need to be aware of both the positive and the potentially negative. Believe it or not, PR professionals are not mind readers nor can we create press coverage with a snap of our fingers.
To get the biggest bang for your buck on a positive announcement or to help prepare for any negative new cycles, the team needs to be given a heads up well in advance when possible. The whole "need to know basis" approach helps no one if your communications team isn't in the loop. Now, it doesn't have to be the whole PR team but at least someone from the team should be aware of what is going on.
Schedule weekly check-ins with your PR team to ensure that everyone is on the same page about hot topics, worry basket issues, the latest on product announcements, customers wins, etc. The more information the communications team has and the sooner it gets the details, the more prepared and successful they can be when it comes time to make an announcement.
Always be prepared. Always communicate with your PR team.
We all want press coverage. That's just natural.
But as we've discussed here before, not all press coverage is good. And not all press coverage will drive your overall business objectives. Which is why it is absolutely critical to be strategic on where you and your team invest time and resources as it pertains to media relations.
As a small start-up (and this can be the case for larger organizations too), your reaction may be to take any and all inbound press opportunities. But it is important to ask yourself what impact that story could have on the business.
Is that outlet's audience our target customer demographic? Do our investors read that publication regularly? How has that blog covered our industry and competitors in the past?
Not only complete the due diligence on all inbound press inquiries to make sure they are worth your communications and leadership teams' time, but also do some proactive research to ensure your teams are on the same page around priorities.
What outlets are "must-haves," meaning they cover your industry and competitors regularly and are a must-read for your customers, partners and investors? What publications would be "nice to have," meaning they are stretch goals for the business either because they are top-tier (and everyone wants a mention), tend to cover just outside your industry, or cover a very wide range of topics?
Create your lists and then work backwards on what storylines might work for those particular publications and what pieces of the puzzle (metrics, customer testimonials, third party research, etc.) you might need to place the right story.
But do your research and make sure story opportunities are going to help drive your business objectives, not just get a story for the sake of getting a story.
It's only natural to get excited and start sprinting as fast as you can with as much spirit and gusto as you can muster when you start something new, including a new PR program or campaign. This passion and excitement is critical to its success.
But the important elements to any PR program that many tend to forget are focusing on longevity and endurance.
So many times, we jump out of our seats, pulling together our plans, identifying our target reporters and sending out pitches. But if the results aren't immediate or they start slowing down after some initial response, we start getting discouraged and our executives start questioning our processes.
We must always look at PR programs in segments -- both the short-term and the long-term -- and they must work together.
When I ran my first (and only) half-marathon, I mentally broke it into segments, otherwise the entire 13.1 miles seemed practically impossible and I would have failed before even stepping foot on the course. Same thing applies to our PR programs.
We need to look at our immediate and long-term objectives and find ways to weave them together. What do you have to get gone this quarter? How does that change next quarter or the final quarter of the year? Are there messages that can be carried throughout each quarter, but maybe in a different way or from a different angle? Can you convey your messages through different examples or formats?
By approaching our PR programs from both perspectives, we get the immediate returns we need to keep the team excited and motivated, but also allow ourselves the endurance to keep it moving -- consistently -- in the months, quarters and years to come.
,PR teams and agencies fight fires on a daily basis. While we all have grand ideas of proactive programs, most of the time, unless resources are unlimited, we end up focusing the majority of our time on reactive activities.
Particularly when someone new joins the PR team or a new agency is brought on board, it is way too easy to quickly share existing materials and have everyone hit the ground running. Jump into media briefings to build or maintain press relationships from previous roles. Start executing on new campaigns and pitches. All this, possibly, without knowing whether the company or product messaging is finalized, fully understanding the objective of the briefings, and in some cases without taking a step back and making sure the overarching messages and objectives still hold within those new pitch angles.
How often do we really take the time to review, taken inventory and update the fundamental materials needed for a successful PR program? (These are just a few of the typical fundamentals but they are dependent on the company's industry and PR program needs.)
Whether your PR program is brand new, longstanding or somewhere in between, the end of the year is a good time to take inventory of your program. Here are a few key questions to ask when taking stock of your materials:
Does your PR team make the grade with your PR fundamentals? Or you need to take some time to create a stronger foundation for your PR program ahead of 2017?
It may only be early November and your company may still be in the thick of finishing out the quarter -- and the year -- strong. But in reality, with Thanksgiving and the winter holidays quickly approaching, there are really only 5 weeks left in 2016.
We'll pause for a minute to let that sink in.
In addition to completing your 2016 objectives and programs, it's time to start the 2017 planning process. This can be challenging for the communications team if the business hasn't yet started the planning process. BUT IT CAN BE DONE!
Here are a few ways to get started on the 2017 communications planning process:
Welcome to ROAMings, a compilation of thoughts and musings about the PR and media industries. This is an opportunity to discuss the “here and now” of the industry, interesting events or case studies, pivotal moments that affect how we approach PR, etc. It isn’t about brand loyalties or preferences -- and we will not be publishing self-promotional materials or talk about our clients in this setting -- but how those brands, individuals and events are leveraging (or in some cases abandoning) PR.