Tips for Spring-Cleaning Your Communication

The arrival of spring 2021, and billions of cicadas, reminds us of the power of renewal. Savvy PR pros should take a cue from their budding gardens and prioritize a communication spring cleaning.

Tend to Your Goals

In the fall and winter, organizations pour dozens of hours into planning and exit meetings with editorial calendars, media tactics and KPIs they’ll use for 12 months. But now is the time to ask open-ended questions about the year so far, such as:

  • How are we tracking against our 2021 goals?
  • Have new priorities popped up?
  • Where are we excelling?
  • Where can we improve?

After answering these questions using data and analytics, the best tactic may simply involve slightly reallocating resources. Perhaps you’re a tech startup that wants to reach the investment community in 2021. If you’re securing strong quotes in trade publications but little interest from investors, refocus on promoting your media hits through LinkedIn.

On the other hand, you may need to reevaluate priorities entirely. A new CEO or crisis can prompt such a shift. Perhaps your Q1 communication efforts underperformed expectations. Regardless, now is a perfect moment to dig up strategy documents and identify what to scrap, add or tweak.

Sweep Your Online Presence

Mistakes happen. But in the internet age, an organization can lose public trust when mistakes, even those from the past, remain in view or resurface.

The most extreme examples can result in major controversies. An example is when Condé Nast appointed Alexi McCammond editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, and then had to reckon with her past, which included anti-Asian tweets she had posted several years prior.

Hopefully, your company's faux pas is tamer; maybe it retweeted content you’ve since disavowed. Perhaps content you created previously isn’t very inclusive or strikes the wrong tone.

Auditing your social media and web presence for contentious content may seem cynical or overly cautious. On the other hand, taking a few hours this spring to assess your past communication can save you from a future spent repairing a damaged reputation.

Scrub Those Media Lists

Media lists rapidly gather dust in the modern media environment. As The Wrap reported earlier this year, news outlets lost a record 16,160 jobs across the U.S. in 2020. That means, sadly, thousands of reporters, editors, and producers are looking for new gigs and hopefully finding them. Some of those journalists are in your media lists.

In addition, it's likely that journalists who kept their jobs have assumed beats of departed colleagues. This means more updates for your list.

Ideally, we could make those updates in real-time, but the reality is that many reporters—particularly long-time freelancers—don’t jump from job to job immediately. Even if they did, you can’t track all your contacts all of the time.

That’s why PR pros should use this spring to look through their media lists and ensure they’re up-to-date, legible, and ready for heavy pitching throughout the rest of the year.

Communication spring cleaning may be as unglamorous as the humble cicada, but it will leave your organization renewed and better prepared for whatever challenges may arise in the second half of the year.

Nate Wolf is a senior associate at Clyde Group