A PR Resolution for New Year’s Resolutions

NY resI’ve never had much luck with New Year’s resolutions. Whatever the resolution I always seem to capitulate a week or two into the endeavor. Oh well.

But like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, New Year’s resolutions are more of an idea than reality, and I bet more than a few PR folks agree.

Years ago I stopped making New Year’s resolutions and instead opted to set some incremental goals that I could pursue, without fear of failure, on my own schedule.

That, of course, could be a piece of unsolicited advice for PR pros: Better to set legitimate goals about how to do your job better (and land bigger marcomm budgets) rather than succumb to unrealistic expectations.

With that in mind, here are few resolutions (of an evergreen quality) that PR execs and communicators might track in 2014 (and beyond) to enhance their wheelhouse and overall reputation.

> Don’t let others define your profession: The PR field is one of the largest projection screens ever. Whether they work in media or are civilians, people love putting PR pros into a cubbyhole crammed with crisis management and media pitches. But PR execs in the trenches know better. In 2014, demonstrate how communications is increasingly wedded to organizational goals and objectives, not to mention strategic marketing. Lead by example and let action, based on your brand or client, be your guide.

> Monetize social media channels: Years ago a top marketing executive (and fellow Deadhead) told me that the problem with trying to leverage social media is that too many PR and marketing execs are “cocktail-party compliant” when it comes to deconstructing the use of social channels. Unfortunately, the statement is still relevant. PR pros can talk until their blue in the face about “likes” and “followers” and that killer TweetChat the boss loved. But communicators have to be less enamored by the “inputs” associated with social networks and get a better read on the “outcomes.” How did that Facebook program push the marketing needle? How does a surge in Twitter followers translate into sales? Do we have even have a strategy in place for aligning social to lead-gen revenue? In order to maximize social media PR pros in 2014 will have to be more discriminating about which channels have a legitimate connection to the brand/campaign/idea and which channels are just sucking wind.

> Keeping (and sustaining) a "seat at the table": In the last few years a growing number of PR pros have earned a so-called seat at the table, joining senior executives in periodic meetings to discuss brand management and strategic goals. But don’t just be happy to be there. In between the meetings do the spadework—learning about competitors, creating unique ways to promote the brand and getting out of your comfort zone to coordinate with nontraditional allies such as IT, finance and product development—that will help to enhance your reputation among your colleagues and boost your value in the eyes of the C-level execs.

Bonus: Take the lead role to educate both senior management and the rank-and-file employees about what’s shaping up to be one of the most important equations in corporate America: EC = MC; every company is a media company. In a digital-and-content-drenched age, companies ignore the equation at their own peril.

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @ mpsjourno1