January – it’s full of good intentions. The prevarications of December are behind us; this is the time for resolutions. We will go to the gym, we will diet, we will be more organised.
And while you might decide you can’t face doing Dry January this year, or ‘accidentally’ ruin your attempt at Veganuary by 11am on New Year’s Day thanks to that hangover-busting bacon butty, one thing you shouldn’t put on hold is your PR planning.
January gives us the opportunity for a fresh start, to press the reset button, and this includes how you formulate your PR strategy for the 12 months ahead.
January is the ideal time to examine your current strategy and to identify where you are currently at, as this will help you work out where you want to be in 12 months’ time. Consider what worked well, where good coverage was achieved and which journalists responded positively.
Determine which pitches and angles worked well for you and look at whether these can be repurposed or taken in a slightly different direction.
You don’t need to go into painstaking detail. Consider the year ahead, plan for the next six months and factor in time to revise after three months. Some things probably won’t change, such as significant events or anniversaries, but you will need to be agile in some respects.
Remember that you’ll need to be able to react to the news agenda or to other unforeseen events that may create opportunities or require crisis management.
Set your objectives
Understanding your key messages will help you set your objectives for the coming months. Obviously, what you say and how you say it need to be ‘on brand’ and in keeping with previous media messages.
Working out what you want to say – and to whom – in addition to what you want to achieve, will form the basis of your PR activity for the year ahead.
Whether you’re planning the launch of a new product, organising an event or formulating a specific media campaign, having clear and achievable goals will help you with your PR planning and help keep you on track.
Plan of attack
It’s important to not only know what you want to say, but when. Timing is of the essence so draw up a calendar of activity – preferably one that can be flexible to allow you to react to events.
Look at how many releases you want to send out across the next year. When do you want to send them? Where will they go to achieve maximum coverage? January is also a good time to review your media lists and ensure they are up to date.
Acquiring the editorial calendars of your target media will help you formulate your plans for press releases, features and thought leadership articles.
Consider what channels you will be using to support your PR campaign. Few businesses today would consider PR planning without a complementary social media campaign so be sure to factor this in, whether your chosen platform be Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or something different.
If you’re confident enough, speaking engagements are another great way to get in front of your target audience.
Once you have your plan, look at it again from a journalist’s point of view. Is what you have planned newsworthy? If not, can you make it more so by piggybacking national events to create a bigger buzz?
Always put your plan in writing, whether it be on an app or a spreadsheet, so you can refer back to it and alter it as necessary.
If you need some more inspiration for getting organised in the New Year, check out our top tips for setting effective goals and objectives.