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.
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How To Make Public Relations Measurement Fun

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Full disclosure – I used to dread the topic of measurement. In my mind, measurement equaled data which equaled numbers, which equaled Math. And let’s just say Math and I have never really gotten along very well. However, whatever personal feelings I had about the topic, I always knew how important it was to any client, organization and the industry as a whole.

Measurement essentially involves performance indicators and no organization can fully function and be successful without being able to measure the success or failure of every strategic investment, i.e. their ROI.  Measurement indicates to organizations what is and isn’t working, what needs to be changed, increased, eliminated, etc.

Any good strategic plan must include a measurement performance indicator section. It is also why a key characteristic of objectives is that they be measurable. Every step and/or action taken by an organization must be measured in some way or else as an organization, you are just spinning your wheels and possibly wasting resources including money, manpower, etc.

However, despite its importance, how to effectively measure the success or failure and ROI of public relations efforts is a continued issue and struggle within the industry. This has been further complicated by the advent and pervasiveness of social media, which despite how fast it moves in terms of new platforms, has not kept up in terms of how one measures its success.

There are some common industry metrics, which are fairly pervasive, such as mentions, audience, impressions, engagement and conversion. Mentions essentially measures how much your organization/brand is being talked about. Audience measures how much audience your organization has and this includes indicators such as number of followers, likes and shares. Impression measures how many times the audience may have seen or heard about your organization. For example, if The Washington Post features a story about your organization and the circulation number for the paper is one million, then theoretically, that story had one million impressions. Engagement, particularly online, also includes indicators such as likes and shares, as well as comments, bounce rate and how long individuals stayed on the company website. Finally, conversion essentially measures how many times individuals performed some type of measureable action with regards to the organization. For example, the number of people who filled out a feedback form on the website versus the number who visited the website.

Thus, measurement is clearly very important. However, as I noted above, I did not really enjoy it and in fact often dreaded the topic. I eventually decided that the best way to get past that, was to find a way to make the topic fun and interesting for myself. I refused to accept that measurement only included a boring, tedious and mundane collection of numbers, statistics and data. The following steps are just some of the ways I think measurement can be fun:

  1. Think Outside The Box – One of the easiest ways to make something tedious, is through repetition. In other words, using the same phrases, the same strategies and in the case of measurement, the same metrics. While the old tried and true metrics are important, there are many ways to think outside the box and use new and different tools, formats and platforms to measure an organization’s public relations success. Forbes.com features an excellent article by contributor Ilya Pozin, which discusses some different ways of measuring and thinking about an organization’s success or failure. Thinking of new and different ways to measure success helps keep the process of measurement fresh, interesting and creative.
  1. Re-Think The Way You Interpret The Data – Instead of looking at most data and analytics as a series of numbers and figures, I find it helps to see it as pieces of a greater puzzle that’s being solved or pieces of a larger story that’s being told. Public Relations is after all a storytelling function. For example, data showing what post or story got the most likes and shares can be a lot more than just the numbers. It can be a significant piece of the puzzle describing who the organization’s audience really is and what resonates with them. Essentially it can help develop a character portrait of the organization’s audience which is essential in building and maintaining relationships with them.
  1. Be Visual – Most individuals are very visual people, which means they respond well to videos, bold text, pictures, color, etc. The more visual, the more likely a person will pay attention to and remember the information. The growing popularity of infographics and continued use of old school information charts, such as pie charts, bar charts, pictographs, flow charts, etc. proves this notion.Turning data filled with numbers, facts and figures into something visual that is bold, colorful and creative makes it a lot more entertaining and easier to understand.
  1. Celebrate The Small Accomplishments – Sometimes organizations, especially the larger, more global ones, tend to focus only on large scale successes and forget about the smaller details and smaller accomplishments that in part can help achieve larger success. Focusing on some of these smaller accomplishments and details can not only be beneficial to the firm as a whole, but fun because it is not as overwhelming as larger scale projects and by that token not as bogged down in too many numbers and too much data.
  1. It’s Okay To Not Be An Expert – Yes, not necessarily fun, but it does help tremendously to accept the reality that as a public relations professional you may not be an expert at measurement and that’s okay. Yes, all public relations professionals should have some basic knowledge of Statistics and Probability but the fact is, truly mastering the intricate details and knowledge of measurement tactics, data collection, data, etc. is a separate and specific skill. One that takes time and knowledge, both formal and informal. So it’s okay to not be an expert and not get it perfectly right the first time or every single time. As with everything in life, it’s all a learning process and if you can make the process as fun as possible, that’s half the battle.