It’s the start of a new year. You should be energized, right? Ready to hit the ground running and fresh ideas should be bubbling up like a Colorado spring, right? Perhaps.
What if that’s not happening? What if every idea you have feels stale and unoriginal?
Here are five things to do to kickstart your public relations efforts if your muse is no where in sight.
- Spend a whole day doing things differently. From the route you take to work to moving your ‘office’ to the conference room instead of your desk, change the scenery. Then, change other things like the time you go to lunch, the colors on your desktop, the font you use in word documents. These small, seemingly inconsequential changes will disrupt any complacency that has set in. They also aren’t permanent; if the changes have the opposite effect, you can easily revert to “doing things the way you always had.” (But that’s not why you’re reading this list, is it?)
- Declare a “no screen” day. Get off the computer, phone, television and more. Pick up a pen and paper, go outside and walk around. Do anything to give yourself a break from reacting to what’s in front of you. This will give your mind (and eyes) a break to do what it does best—think.
- Interview your team. Ask your colleagues the number one lesson they’ve learned in their careers or about your business. Ask them why they are here, what they love about their job and their single most proud working moment since joining your company. From their answers, develop “Why I Do What I Do” pieces and other human interest stories to spruce up your web site, newsletters, social channels and more.
- Visit the physical place where your customers live. It’s tempting to let others, market research and the online world tell you all about your customers. But when was the last time you visited a store–or other physical place–where your customers buy your products or services? If you don’t sell something physical, when was the last time you sat down with your customer in their office? Observe how they operate, what language they use when talking to you and how they interact with others in their office. Take notes. Now compare that to how you’ve been talking to them or about them from your office. See any differences?
- Go through the last year’s worth of research, data-mining, media interviews and white papers and select a few interesting nuggets. Develop visual memes and soundbites that you can spread over social channels or send to bloggers and reporters to spice up their coverage. In other words, think about everything you’re trying to say visually. Forget words for a minute…or two.
This summer, we explored the major steps for developing a Modern Communications Plan. Now it’s time to wrap it up. The final steps include identifying who will execute this beautiful new plan and developing a timeline of activities (and results).
Step eleven is identifying and naming your team players. A plan is only as good as its outcomes, and someone has to be responsible for execution. Who will be accountable for the plan overall, and who will execute the various steps? Do you need to hire additional help or can your in-house team handle the activities scheduled? Also, be sure to do a skills inventory to make sure you have the right skill sets in place. Identify where additional training might be required.
Step twelve is your timeline. By when do you expect your activities to be in full swing, and when do you reasonably expect outcomes? You can do this by week, month or quarter depending on the complexity of your plan and your ambitions. The larger and more diverse your audience, the longer it takes to change their attitudes, behaviors and beliefs.
You’ll notice I included no section for budget. Every organization is different around money. Some know exactly how much they want to spend and will tell you up front. Others wish to see a plan with a budget attached before making a decision. Regardless, began to talk about money early and as the various stages are being discussed. The plan will usually tell you how much you need to spend to be effective. Decisions can be made from there.
One last note: As your plan unfolds, be sure to check in often to see how it’s working. How is your team doing? How are they feeling about the outcomes? Do not be afraid to adjust your plan if a reasonable amount of time has passed and the desired results are not being achieved. Now that you have a template to rely on (and appropriate research about your audience under your belt), you are able to make educated adjustments as necessary.
Next up? We’ll explore Positioning, Messaging and Storytelling, including exercises you can take your team through to get your started on assessing, developing and recasting your language for greater results.
Business leaders across the globe ask this question (nearly daily) of their team: how do we know our communications work? As someone who’s been in the communications field for more than thirty years, the answer is rarely cut and dried. But no effort should be embarked upon without having some idea of how you’ll tell how you are doing and how to share that with managers, executive teams and other stakeholders.
Measurement and evaluation are critical elements of every communications plan in order to validate results of your efforts, make course corrections, and develop better strategies and tactics.
Entire books have been written about communications measurement, but below are some thoughts to get your started.
Consider these five basic measurement points, liberally borrowed from the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications framework.
- Exposure and Awareness: How will we know people viewed our messages at all? Are they aware of the issues and options we bring to them?
- Knowledge and Understanding: Do they understand what we are trying to say or do? Does it make sense to them?
- Interest and Consideration: Will people listen to our viewpoints? If given the choice, will our offering be considered?
- Support and Preference: Will our viewpoints and offerings be chosen? Will people reference us?
- Action and Real Behavior Change: Will our viewpoints and offerings incite specific actions, usually meaning will they buy our products and services or change the way they’ve done something in the past or take a different action.
Most communications efforts rely on simple metrics such as web site visits, social media ‘likes,’ ‘follows,’ and shares, email ‘opens’ and other number-based measurements to understand the above. But by adding a healthy mix of market research, polls and surveys, content analysis and share of discussion, and lead sourcing, you’ll be far ahead of your competitors in the measurement and evaluation game.
If you care about your return-on-investment for PR, advertising and other communications activities, you’d be wise to plan how you’ll measure before you launch any campaign.