Tips for Successfully Executing Influencer Marketing Strategy on a Budget

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In previous articles, this blog has discussed the benefits of influencer marketing and tips for picking the right influencer for your influencer marketing strategy. However, while many companies and brands have embraced the importance of influencer marketing, there is still a pervasive misconception that it is a strategy for big businesses and global brands. Companies with million-dollar budgets. In truth, small businesses are more than capable of executing effective influencer marketing strategies. Like with all campaigns, it just takes having a clearly defined plan and strategy. Here are a few tips.

  • Use Micro-Influencers – According to HelloSociety (an agency that connects brands with the right influencer for their campaigns), micro-influencers are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with large followings (source: AdWeek). Micro-influencers are essentially influencers with a smaller audience as the regular influencer. However, smaller does not automatically mean less influential. As I noted in my post about picking the right influencer, it’s not always about big social media numbers. Yes, while an influencer having a large following is indicative of their reach, it does not always mean that their followers are engaged. Sometimes the individuals with 2,000 followers may have a far more engaged following than the individual with 2 million. Micro-influencers are typically cheaper than major influencers while achieving the same goals.

 

  • Contribute to their Content – Influencers do not always live on Instagram or Snapchat or the like. Many also have blogs and quite a few are willing to accept submissions from others, as long as it is in line with the theme and topic of their blog. Finding an influencer that allows guest posts for free is a very cost-effective way to utilize influencer marketing. It is also important to remember that influencers are not always individual people. Industry magazines, trade journals, news shows, television shows, brands, etc. can all be influencers. And a popular and influential magazine, for example, is a perfect avenue for submissions and guest articles that will be seen by a large and significant audience.

 

  • Offer Free Products/Services – One of the biggest hesitations that small businesses have regarding influencer marketing is that there is simply no budget for it. However, payment to an influencer does not always have to come in the form of money. Using resources that your business already has is a great way to save money while getting the most out of your influencer marketing strategy. For example, if are in the fitness business, e.g. own a gym or a vegan restaurant, etc. and you would like to work with a personal trainer or fitness expert with a large and engaged Instagram following, you can offer special discounts to the trainer and some of their most loyal customers in exchange for their posting about your gym or restaurant.

 

  • Activate Fans into Influencers – Here’s a little fact that some businesses are completely unaware of. Some of their potentially most effective influencers are already customers and fans of their brand. Many businesses assume that they need to look outward to find effective influencers, when the truth is, sometimes, someone with a fairly decent sized and active social media following is already using their product or service. Identifying those individuals and working with them can not only be a cost-effective way of executing a successful influencer marketing strategy but also an organic and credible way since the influencer was already a user and a fan of your product or service.

 

  • Become Your Own Influencer – I know what you’re thinking. It takes a long time to build enough of a following, credibility and influence to become an influencer. And yes, Rome was not built in a day. However, the potential benefits of establishing your business as an influencer are numerous, not least of all the costs saved by not having to constantly look elsewhere and pay others. Becoming an influencer largely involves establishing yourself as an expert and thought leader and there are many avenues to do so. Become a professor on websites like SkillShare, contribute to high-quality publications like Forbes and industry magazines, host free seminars, webinars and/or expos, etc. When people start to view your business as an expert and an authority, their trust in you will increase, which in turn will increase their willingness to buy whatever you’re selling.
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Tips for Picking the Right Influencer for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

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It is no secret that influencer marketing has become one of the most popular go-to buzzwords in the industry, in the last few years. Mediakix has noted that “Marketers are discovering that one of the best ways to target audience groups, drive awareness and elicit engagement across social channels is by creating innovative advertising partnerships with select social media influencers.” Hubspot also noted that 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding – i.e. influencer marketing is big business and it works.

A few months ago, I wrote about the benefits of businesses and brands investing in influencer marketing. However, one of the most important factors in achieving a successful influencer marketing strategy is to have the right influencer. So with that said, here are a few tips for picking the right influencer for your influencer marketing strategy.

  1. Relevance – This is quite possibly the most obvious and most important factor in picking the right influencer for your business and/or brand’s influencer marketing strategy. And yet, many companies fail at it. Finding an influencer who is relevant to your business/brand means knowing and understanding what your goals and objectives are for your influencer marketing strategy in the first place, knowing and understanding your audience and knowing and understanding that it is not a one size fits all with influencers. There are many different types of influencers that all come with their own unique voice and influence.

 

  1. It’s Not Always about the Big Numbers – As noted in my previous blog post about the benefits of influencer marketing, while the number of followers a potential influencer has is important, it is not always the most important thing and sometimes is not an accurate indicator of their influence. An influencer’s follower count indicates the extent of the influencer’s reach. However, it doesn’t always indicate the level of engagement and that is key because engagement is a true indicator of an influencer’s power. It is of little use for a brand and business to have an influencer who has a million followers but they are inactive followers. That is, they do not comment, retweet the tweets, repost the images, engage with the influencer at all, versus someone who has 200,000 followers who actively engage with everything they post, i.e. sharing it, reposting it, commenting, etc.

 

  1. Credibility – Another one of the most important factors in picking the right influencer for your business and brand is the credibility of the influencer and/or influencers you pick. Just like the case of using spokespeople for your brand, it is important to vet any potential influencer to ensure that there has not been any questionable social media behavior by them in the past, e.g. attempts to mislead or defraud followers, etc.

 

  1. Past Relationships of Influencer – Piggybacking off the previous point, in researching any potential influencer for your business and/or brand, it is important to consider any past partnerships, relationships, etc. they have in the past that may conflict with your brand and your message. For example, have they been advocates for brands or businesses that do not align with the kind of message that your business stands for and represents? Were they loud advocates for one of your biggest competitors? Because if so, your audience will likely not trust their sudden change of heart in advocating for you. Not to mention that the influencer themselves may lose credibility with their audience and by that token, no longer be as effective.

 

  1. Know What Type of Content You Want to Create – Finally, tying back to your influencer marketing goals and strategies, it is important to know exactly what type of relationship you want with your potential influencer and/or influencers, before deciding on someone. For example, do you plan to hand over complete creative control to an influencer in advocating for your brand, or are you looking for someone to share content that you create or will it be a collaborative partnership where you and the influencer jointly decide on the content that will be shared? Knowing where you stand on these issues is key to picking the right influencer and avoiding a potentially negative experience and partnership.

Is Snapchat Right For Your Organization?

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In just five short years, since its launch in 2011, Snapchat has quickly risen to one of the most popular social media platforms. Current data lists its average number of daily active users between 100 – 150 million, (second only to Facebook and far surpassing Twitter in daily usage). More people are aware of and use Snapchat than Pinterest and LinkedIn, which have both been around longer. However, despite this impressive growth, many organizations continue to be wary of the popular app as a social media channel for their business and their brand.

It is important to remember that it is not necessary for an organization to be on every social media channel. In fact, doing so can increase the risk of spreading your company resources too thin, resulting in not enough time and effort being allocated to any one channel. Also, every social media channel has its pros and cons, which means deciding to invest time and resources in any means deciding if that channel aligns with your organization. This is based on a number of factors including – your organization goals and objectives, your audience, the type of content you want to produce, your resources, etc.

So should your organization invest in Snapchat to promote your brand and help benefit your bottom line? Let us consider a few pros and cons of the popular app.

Pros

Works in Real Time – The key unique selling point of Snapchat is the time sensitive nature of the content created, i.e. posts and videos disappear after a few seconds. While the creators have since added the Story function that allows snaps to last up to 24-hours, the temporary nature of any content created continues to make Snapchat a tool that works best in real time and that can be a good thing for businesses. It allows organizations to communicate any important news about the company to their audience immediately and it can also increase engagement through promotions and discounts that require followers to act quickly because it will expire as quickly as it appeared.

One to One Engagement – Unlike many other social media channels, e.g. Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat does not have a status update option and by that token a timeline of posts. Snaps are seen individually by those who follow the account and who cannot tell who the other recipients of the snaps are. As a result, this helps to foster something of an intimate, one on one feeling between an organization and its audience. This can be particularly appealing for small businesses with a very niche and close-knit customer base.

User-Generated Content & User Engagement – One of biggest appeals of Snapchat for users is the ability to create their own content they can have fun with and manipulate in different ways. Organizations can take advantage of this by encouraging their followers and audience to create videos or take pictures that demonstrate their use of the organization’s product(s), why they love said product, why they love the brand or the organization and much more. Having contests that award the most creative content will also appeal to followers. This increases not only audience engagement but user-generated content as well.

Can Influence Search and Drive Traffic – Organizations can influence search and drive traffic to their websites through the use of Snapchat, as long as they are smart about it. As is the case with most social media channels, it always helps to promote one via another. Cross promoting and cross-linking channels can help increase followers and engagement on all channels and also help solve some of the negatives of one channel. For example, using the short length of Snapchat videos, organizations can create a teaser using a 10-second snap that then encourages followers to view in its entirety on their YouTube account.

Helps Create Your Story – One of the most important goals of any organization is to tell its story. If an organization cannot really explain or show who they are, it makes it very hard for their audience to truly connect with them. Snapchat’s appropriately titled Story function helps users do exactly that – tell a story. If organizations are smart and strategic in their approach to using the tool, they can create some very interesting and compelling content that gives their audience good insight into who they are as a business and as a brand. The channel is particularly good for behind the scenes sneak peeks at organizations and brands, the organizational culture, employees and more. Fashion label Burberry did this brilliantly before debuting their 2016 Spring Collection at New York Fashion Week. In the days leading up to the show, the fashion house gave fans sneak peeks of the clothes that would be debuted, they showed the models gearing up for the show and featured Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour. The campaign worked to help build excitement and anticipation for the new collection.

Important Insights – One of the most commonly stated negatives of Snapchat is its limitations regarding measurement. While this is true, there are two important insights organizations can measure or at least gauge, based on the unique qualities of Snapchat. One is their audience on the channel. Snapchat makes it very difficult for individuals to lurk. While one can just search for an organization’s name on Facebook or Instagram and see their content without actually following them, with Snapchat, you have to follow an account to view its content. Therefore, organizations can know exactly who is following them, which can also tell them who is at least interested enough to want to see their content. Another unique aspect of Snapchat is individuals have to click on the content to view it, which also shows an interest level.

Cons

Limitations in Measurement – As stated above, there are some limitations in measuring the success of Snapchat. There is currently no defined data tracking attached to the app or an external online tool, which makes it challenging for organizations to accurately measure its success or failure to their bottom line. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Snapchat currently does not offer targeted and detailed analytics. And although organizations can measure impressions in terms of how many people opened the snaps, it is difficult to know how many actually watched it because individuals can fast-forward through the videos. Most importantly, because the content is time-sensitive, it is difficult for organizations to accurately measure how engaged individuals were with it, as is the case with Facebook posts or Instagram posts or Tweets which can be liked, re-tweeted, shared, etc. In terms of the sales process, Snapchat currently does not offer any type of user click or tracking that could direct an individual to a specific landing page so as to start them down the sales process and help establish prospects and/or leads.

Time-Sensitive – As the old adage goes, “it is both a gift and a curse”. The same element that makes Snapchat unique, is the same element that may be a downside for many organizations and brands trying to promote themselves using the app. While the element of communicating in real time has its appeal, many organizations may still not view the app as a worthwhile investment, when all the content they create will disappear, thus making it difficult to curate. There are ways to save snaps that can then be shared on other social media channels for a longer shelf life. However, that may beg the question of why not just simply use those channels instead?

Limited Two-Way Engagement – While it is true that one has to choose to see a snap, which at the least proves they were interested enough to click, there are still limitations for organizations to know just how truly engaged their audience was with the content. There are tips and ideas for encouraging engagement, such as asking viewers to take a screenshot of something in response to a snap but these options are significantly limited in comparison to other channels that offer the ability to share, like, retweet and repost the content. This limited two-way engagement also restricts interaction between an organization’s followers and non-followers, which makes it difficult to reach a new audience via sharing of content.

Niche Audience – Although Snapchat has significantly increased in active users in the past few years, its audience is still fairly niche, with an average of 70 percent female who are mostly between the ages of 18 to 34. This is great for an organization whose key target audience falls within that range but for an organization whose key audience may be males who are between the ages of 45-60, they understandably might wonder what benefit could there be for them in using Snapchat.

Competition, Thy Name Is Instagram Story – In August 2016, Instagram introduced a new feature to its popular channel, called stories. The new feature allows users to create videos and take pictures to build a slideshow that lasts for 24 hours. Sounds a lot like another channel, doesn’t it? Almost immediately, social media experts, influencers and, opinion leaders were wondering what the Instagram Stories feature would mean for Snapchat and its future. While it’s certainly far too early to tell if there has or will be any significant effect on Snapchat, it is hard to ignore that this move by Instagram throws a wrench in the former’s sail, particularly as it attacks the thing that makes Snapchat most unique. That is its short, quick and disappearing content.  While Snapchat’s growth has been incredibly impressive and exponential, Instagram still has 400 million users to the former’s 150 million. Given the choice to invest in another channel, many organizations may just decide to stick to the channel they’ve already established a presence on, had success with, especially since it now offers a feature similar to what Snapchat does.

Bottom line, should your organization add Snapchat as one of the channels in your social media marketing strategy? As previously stated, every channel has its pros and cons and it is up to you and your team to consider what your goals and objectives are, what audience you’re trying to reach, your brand identity and persona and more, and decide if what Snapchat offers aligns with those factors.

Originally published in PRNews: The Book of Social Media Strategies & Tactics  Vol. 2

What’s in the Air? (United Airlines Image Crisis)

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By now, we’ve probably all seen the video – a man forcibly being dragged from his seat and off a United Airlines flight. To say the video was disturbing would be an understatement and naturally, it immediately sparked a huge backlash against the airline company. The incident occurred less than a month after the airline found itself at the center of a Twitter backlash, after Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, tweeted that the two gate agents for the airline would not let two young girls board a flight, because they were wearing leggings.

While public opinion of the latter incident was a bit divisive, especially when it was explained that the two girls were pass customers and not paying customers, the double whammy of that incident and this latest one has made for a very negative and P.R. nightmare for the airline company. As this past week came to a close, the airline saw its stock fall by 4 percent. However, what made this recent incident particularly damaging for United Airlines is the very tone deaf response of its CEO Oscar Munoz.

Ironically, just a little over a month prior to this incident, Munoz was named Communicator of the Year by PR Week for, according to editors, being “An excellent leader who understands the value of PR”. Munoz’ response to the airline’s current PR crisis certainly makes one call the former statement into question.

I have written quite a bit about crisis communication on this blog, always reiterating the four key steps of crisis management that all organizations and businesses must adhere to in the face of any PR crisis. No matter the incident or issue, an organization should always remember to 1) do not hide, 2) be timely in response, 3) avoid being defensive and 4) explain why it won’t happen again. While United and Munoz did two of these things correctly – namely not hiding and being timely in their response, they failed at one of the most important rules, i.e. avoid being defensive. More importantly, they made one of the biggest follies of crisis management – dismissing or blaming the victim and not offering a sincere apology.

The first comment on the matter from the airline came in the form of a tweet, which stated, “Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave”. Naturally, this outraged many, as it seemed to suggest that the individual being dragged off the plane was at fault.

Next, Munoz made his first statement on the matter, which was also posted on the airline’s official twitter page. In the statement, the CEO referred to the situation as upsetting and stated that the company was reaching out to the passenger. However, it’s Munoz’ apology for having to “re-accommodate these customers” that sparked outrage from some individuals. Many commented that the sentence read as dismissive of the gravity of the situation and that instead, the whole incident was merely an inconvenience to some customers.

The greatest backlash came when an internal letter sent by Munoz to United employees, went public. In the letter, Munoz is quoted as saying, “As you will read, this situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help. Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.” Once again, to many, the statement read as blaming the victim and that the CEO was essentially saying that violently and forcibly dragging a paying customer off their plane was completely within their right to do so. Naturally, this did not sit well with many and the public outcry against the airline intensified.

Since then, Munoz has put out two more statements, each more conciliatory than the previous one and the airline has now vowed to change crew flight policy. However, the damage has been done and it may take a little while for the bleeding to stop.

This was a horrible situation in many ways but Munoz and the company’s initial response is another compelling study of why the first few hours of any crisis are the most important and why those initial public responses are so crucial. United was faced with a very damaging situation, particularly because there was visual evidence. The public reading about a man being forcibly removed from a plane is no way as damaging as the visual of a bespectacled, middle-aged man being dragged violently, as he’s screaming and bleeding, off a plane.

That visual alone should have alerted the airline company to the fact that this was a very delicate issue that they needed to navigate cautiously and with as much sensitivity and empathy as possible.  However, they didn’t do that. Rather, their first reaction was to go on the defensive and point the finger at the victim.

Not many individuals are going to initially side with a billion-dollar company over a vulnerable looking man seemingly being violently dragged. And United and Munoz should have been perceptive enough to realize this. The good news for United is that so far, tickets for the airline have not declined. That may change of course but as of right now, I’m sure any positive news is a great thing for the company. Still, the damage to the airline’s reputation has been done and that damage may cost them a lot more in the long run.

How Effectively Did The Academy Handle Oscars Mix-Up?

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It was the Oscar moment seen and heard around the world – La La Land was incorrectly announced as the winner of Best Picture, after presenters, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were inexplicably handed the wrong envelope.  Social media immediately went crazy and the press was all over it in the days that followed.

More importantly, it was an extremely embarrassing moment for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and possibly one of the most embarrassing in the show’s 80 plus year history. And while host Jimmy Kimmel was right that at the end of the day, it’s just an award, for the filmmakers who work in the industry, the Oscars is one of the highest achievements they can receive.

And the mix-up not only robbed the winners of their winning moment but falsely made the producers of La La Land believe they’d achieved something that they hadn’t. In those moments they went from joy and pride to disappointment. The moment was the definition of a P.R. nightmare for The Academy.

The reality is no organization, no matter how profitable and effectively managed, is immune to experiencing a crisis situation at some point. The key is in how the organization manages and responds to said crisis. There are a few important steps any organization should practice, in order to weather any crisis as best as possible, including one, don’t hide, two, have a timely response, three, avoid being defensive and four, ensure and explain how it won’t happen again.

So how well did The Academy handle this recent crisis, based on these four key steps? In my opinion, they handled it fairly well and definitely get a passing grade. Regarding the four steps:

  1. Don’t Hide – The Academy did not ignore the moment and hope that in a few days everyone would forget about it and move on. They issued an immediate apology to the producers of both films, as well as the presenters and later issued a more detailed apology from the president of The Academy.

 

  1. Timely Response – Piggy-backing off the first point, not hiding also means being timely in the organization’s response to said crisis. In this case, The Academy issued a first statement hours after the incident, early Monday morning. The second statement from Academy president Cheryl Boone-Isaacs came four days later and the president addressed the time taken for her statement by acknowledging that they wanted all the facts to be properly gathered and assessed.

 

  1. Avoid Being Defensive – While those identified as being responsible for the mix-up were quite publicly reprimanded by The Academy president in her statement, the tone of both statements were for the most part contrite and chastened. There was no attempt to make light of the situation or dismiss its importance and seriousness.

 

  1. Explain Why It Won’t Happen Again – As wonderful as it is for an organization to admit their error and apologize, it is little comfort if they can’t explain how they will ensure that it won’t happen again. In this case, The Academy explained that not only would the accountants responsible for the error not be allowed to ever work the show again but that they were implementing new guidelines and reviewing the protocols of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the accounting firm that has handled the Oscars ballots for years. The statement also made clear that a future working relationship with the accounting firm was still under review. Rather than a vague promise that the incident would never happen again, the president, in her statement, made sure to explain how they would try to ensure it didn’t.

Benefits of Implementing an Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy

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Influencer Marketing has become one of the most buzzed about terms in the industry, in recent years. So what exactly is influencer marketing? In a nutshell, it’s focusing some of your marketing and promotional activities around key individuals who have significant influence over potential buyers. In other words, it is more or less “word of mouth” marketing and it’s really not that different from what public relations practitioners have been doing for years in cultivating relationships with key industry opinion leaders for earned media purposes.

However, the concept has become more ubiquitous in recent years in large part due to the internet and specifically, social media. The popularity of social media and by extension specific individual social media accounts has created a renewed interest and importance on the power of influencers. And the reality is there are really no downsides to implementing an effective influencer marketing strategy into your business plans as the benefits are numerous. Here are just a few of these benefits.

Benefits

  • High ROI – According to a study conducted by Nielsen Catalina Solutions in conjunction with TapInfluence, Influencer Marketing can, in some cases, yield 16x higher ROI than an average digital marketing campaign.
  • Increased Trust & Credibility – Much like the use of thought leaders, the use of the right influencers can increase your credibility to your target audience, as well as increase their trust in your brand.
  • Increased Brand Awareness – This is obvious of course but still needs to be stressed that the successful implementation of influencer marketing increases your brand awareness, which of course can lead to an increase in leads, sales and ultimately your business bottom line.
  • Expand Brand Reach – Influencer Marketing also affords the opportunity to expand your brand reach, sometimes to an audience you may not have even previously been aware of.
  • Improve SEO – It’s very simple really. A sound influencer marketing strategy means greater opportunities and avenues for your brand to be mentioned and referenced on various platforms and online locations, which also means greater opportunities for showing up in organic search results.
  • Save Money – The return on investment, in some cases, from an effective influencer marketing strategy is far greater than the use of paid advertising and of course, a lot cheaper. According to a study from MDG Advertising, 70 percent of consumers want to learn about products through content as opposed to traditional advertising methods.

Of course, an effective influencer marketing strategy requires taking smart and specific steps. Here are a few tips for developing an effective influencer marketing strategy.

Tips 

  • Define Goals & Objectives – It can never be stated enough. You should always have a road map for whatever type of campaign or project your business is implementing, which means there should also be clearly defined goals and objectives.
  • Define Your Audience – Along with defined goals and objectives, there must also be a clear identification of your audience and their needs.
  • Categorize Different Influencers – As with most things, there are different types and categories of influencers. SmartInsights have identified ten and they all came with their unique voice and influence. To develop an effective influencer marketing strategy it is imperative to identify which type of influencer or influencers would be most appropriate and valuable for your brand.
  • Build Influencer Relationships Organically – Most people do not take too kindly to feeling like they are being used – more importantly that someone only interacts with them because of what they can get out of them. And influencers are no different. Of course, there are some influencers who don’t really care, especially if they are being paid but typically, most influencers are put off by a request to promote a brand when they have had no previous interaction at all with the company. It’s best to start by building relationships with influencers, not unlike relationship building with your target audience. This will significantly increase the credibility and genuineness of said influencer promoting your brand.
  • Consider More Than Just Follower Count – Yes, of course, an influencer’s follower count is important. It does suggest the power of their reach and more importantly, their voice.  That being said, we know that follower counts don’t always accurately tell the tale. After all, followers can be bought and manipulated in other ways. Therefore, it is important to consider other factors such as an influencer’s engagement rate. How many comments are they getting for their posts, how many re-tweets, likes, etc? That is a far more accurate measure of just influential they are.

5 New Year Resolutions For P.R. Pros

New Year means new goals, fresh, new perspectives and of course resolutions for the year. While we’re all making numerous promises to lose five pounds, spend more time volunteering and to eat healthier, it’s important to remember that resolutions do not only apply to our personal lives. It is just as important to make resolutions aimed at improving our professional life. So with that said, here are five resolutions P.R. pros should consider making this year.

  • Make Measurement the Focus of Your Campaigns – As P.R. practitioners, we’ve all been there – that brilliant idea for a campaign comes to us and we’re gung ho and super excited to jump right in. However, when the details and specifics start taking shape, we realize there are limitations in how we can measure the success or failure of said campaign. The reality is, if you cannot accurately and effectively measure the success or failure of a campaign, then it’s not a good one. This year, resolve to place measurement at the forefront of all your campaign developments.

 

  • Challenge Yourself & Learn Something New – A little personal background. Almost a year ago, I started my new job as a Content Marketing Specialist. While it had its normal challenges that always comes with starting a new job, the biggest challenge for me was the high expectations regarding my photography skills. Full confession, I am not a great photographer (yet…). The extent of my skills was taking pictures with my cute, tiny digital camera and of course my smartphone. But suddenly I was handed a very expensive, very professional camera and expected to deliver high-quality images and videos. To say it was daunting and scary would be an understatement. However, I accepted the challenge and saw it for what it was, a great learning opportunity and a chance to acquire a new and highly desirable skill. Learning and developing new skills is always important, especially in an industry like ours that is constantly growing and evolving. So this year, resolve to learn or further develop a skill or two or three. Sites like ALISON LearningSkillshare and LinkedIn Learning offer a number of free courses in a number of different fields including Marketing, Art, Psychology, Photography, etc.

 

  • Establish/Solidify Influencer Relationships – While the term influencer marketing has become one of the most buzzed about terms in the last few years, the P.R. industry has always understood the power and importance of influencers and more importantly, influencer relationships. Of course, the internet and more importantly social media have created a much larger community of influencers with much greater reach. This year, resolve to build new influencer relationships and solidify existing ones.

 

  • Establish Meaningful Journalist Relationships – One of the biggest stories of the past year, in the midst of one of the craziest U.S. Presidential elections ever, was the emergence of fake news. Some even held Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook culpable for being a source of a lot of it. The fact is, the internet makes it very easy for just about anyone to call themselves a “news source”. So this year, resolve to be more vigilant in recognizing credible and accurate news sources and respective journalists and work at establishing meaningful professional relationships with them.

 

  • Feng-Shui Your Professional Life – Feng Shui is not just for your home and personal life. It can also be applied to one’s professional life as well. And much like your home and personal life, it simply means taking small but significant steps to create a sense of harmony and calm in your professional life. This can include simple steps such as organizing your workspace better, learning how to better manage your time, learning how to say no to avoid taking on more than you can handle, etc. If you are constantly stressed and agitated at work, it’s time to feng shui your professional life.