by Susan Shelby
A new year is here and the possibilities are endless. Just as you set your own personal resolutions for 2017, you should also be making business-minded resolutions. Now is the perfect time to dust off that PR and marketing plan and refresh it for the upcoming year.
- Identify Growth Opportunities
Align your marketing and PR strategy with your 2017 business goals and objectives. Taking time to survey your clients, evaluate your firm’s strengths and weaknesses, and look at the marketplace as a whole, will help you determine emerging trends and growth areas to target.
- Review 2016 Efforts and Results
Now is the time to critically analyze your 2016 initiatives, adjusting based on what was successful, what was not successful, and what needs to be altered to reflect any industry changes
- Refresh Key Messages
Do your key messages define the identity, purpose, and unique abilities of your firm? Will they promote your firm in a way that leads to growth? Determine what your firm excels at and what makes you unique. You should have three to five clear, simple key messages that communicate the differentiators of your firm.
- Audit Marketing Materials
Your firm’s brochures, website, and email newsletters are key marketing and business development tools. Evaluate them and adjust as necessary to make sure you are using these vital tools to attract and retain business. The goal is to demonstrate expertise, promote your firm’s unique skills, and drive traffic to your website or — better yet — result in a request for more information. Remember to build key words into your content for search engine optimization, and employ metrics to track website analytics.
- Update PR Plan
Public relations can help promote your firm brand and identity, gain the third-party validation of respected media outlets, and keep your firm in front of potential clients on a regular basis. Now is the time to create an editorial content calendar for 2017 that will keep you on track with regularly scheduled PR projects.
- Review and Update Media List
Review and update your media list as necessary. Press contacts may leave, email addresses can change, and sometimes new industry publications are created.
- Set Goals for Byline Articles and Press Releases
Your PR plan should include regularly distributed press releases and byline articles to maintain the presence of your firm in the media. Set goals to determine how often you want to engage in these, and create a calendar to monitor and track opportunities. Ideally, we recommend you aim for one press release per month and one byline article per quarter.
- Set Goals for Speaking Opportunities and Industry Awards
You should plan to participate in relevant conferences and award programs to promote your firm as a thought leader and industry expert. Identify conferences and industry award programs that are the best fit for your consultants and expertise. Employ a go/no go process to determine which programs hold the most value for you.
- Educate Staff
Achieving your goals will be a lot easier when other employees support and promote the need for a strong PR and marketing plan. Encourage staff to contribute to content creation in the form of blogs, articles, white papers, and educational videos to establish thought leadership.
- Prepare for the Unknown
A crisis or unexpected event that focuses media attention on your firm can be disruptive to your normal business operations and have a real or perceived negative impact on your company. A well-conceived crisis communications plan will outline who to alert in the event of an unfortunate event, how to develop and implement your firm’s response to it, and how to provide staff with the tools they need to handle the situation.
Refreshing your PR and marketing plans to align with today’s industry trends will help you conquer your marketing goals. Approach the new year like a blank book, writing your own chapters, and creating your own masterpiece.
Susan Shelby, FSMPS, CPSM, is the president and CEO of Rhino Public Relations.