11 Smart Steps All Communicators Should Take Before Year’s End

2016-new-year-ss-1920-800x450Let’s assume you are brilliant.  And you’re an inspiration to your peers, an asset to your organization.  Let’s also assume that while you’re an A-player you still have a lot to learn. As the late, esteemed UCLA coach John Wooden noted, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

If you’re still with me on this concept, then let’s assume you have less than a month to prep yourself for a stellar 2016. If you’re taking time off for the holidays then really you have just a few weeks to get things together, to get your particular Act in motion. To give you a running start on 2016, I’ve compiled a list of 11 things you can do in the next few weeks to sharpen your PR skills and acumen. Like the bowl of vegetables at the holiday table, these ideas aren’t what you’re craving to add to your plate. But make room for them if you are truly hungry to succeed.

Consider these 11 simple activities at work:

  1. Conduct a content audit: review the posts and articles on your web site and social media platforms to get a clear picture of your brand’s story over the past year. Too much of one topic, not enough of others? Create an Edit Calendar with wiggle room.
  2. Reverse mentor: if you were born after 1992, then match yourself up with a Millennial at your organization and spend some time learning from him/her. Likewise, if Mary Tyler Moore and Wite-Out don’t ring a bell with you, there’s a lot you can learn from the Baby Boomers and Gen X. (Read my blog on this topic.)
  3. Brush up on the Barcelona Principles. You already know what they are (right)?
  4. Have a meeting with your Marketing colleagues to share ideas and develop cross-discipline communication strategies.
  5. Do a Social Media Cleanse. Does your brand need to be on Pinterest? Is Instagram working for you? Are your Twitter followers not the best representation of your brand? What's Facebook doing for you?
  6. Review your Crisis Plan and update it, if necessary. If you don’t have a crisis plan in place, create a first draft asap and share it with your team and C-Suite.
  7. Assess your media relationships. That holiday card you’re about to send won’t endear you to a reporter. Set up a meetings with key journalists in the first quarter of 2016.  Brush up on their body of work beforehand. Commit to developing meaningful relationships with this important stakeholder group.
  8. Familiarize yourself with your organization’s stated mission and goals and make sure your PR dept’s Mission and Goals align with Corporate. Likewise, if you’re with an agency, be sure your client is in sync with its organization’s overriding mission.
  9. Audit your resources. Do you have the right team in place to take on the challenges of 2016? What are the most important job responsibilities and skills you need on your team next year? Consider this carefully and don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations and make bold moves.
  10. Do a Diversity Check. Is your brand inclusive and are the voices representing your organization and brand diverse?
  11. Host a Failure Fest in the next few weeks; members should share their favorite failure of the year and what they learned from it. No #Winning stories allowed.

Keep me apprised of your progress on these 11 ideas. If you can’t get to all of them this month, there’s always next year.

— Diane Schwartz

On Twitter: @dianeschwartz