The Scottish poet Robert Burns inspired a classic American novel when he wrote: “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” He may not have realized it at the time, but he also captured the challenge we face with New Year’s resolutions—that despite our best intentions, we often find ourselves off track just a few weeks into the year.
Young public relations professionals, however, should embrace the challenge of meeting and maintaining yearly goals in order to strengthen their relationships with clients and reporters, grow their personal portfolios and prove their desires to hone the skills necessary to advance in a competitive field.
Here are the resolutions we’re hoping to stick with in 2018:
Schedule in-person meetings with reporters
Whenever possible, schedule a friendly chat with reporters over coffee or catch up with close contacts when they’re in town. Use it as an opportunity to show you’ve been keeping up with their content and that you value their interests beyond their coverage of your client. It demonstrates earnestness with a personal touch, sincerity and commitment to the valuable relationships that are essential to fulfilling your clients’ goals.
No more email blasts
Blasts are easy ways to burn through media lists when pitching to a long list of outlets on a deadline, but they lack the personal touch that can grab a reporter’s attention. In 2018, every pitch should be tailored, even if that means just adding a sentence or two to reflect that you’ve done research on the journalist’s beat and recent coverage. Or, do a bit of digging for your follow-up, mention a recent article or offer ways your material would make a good addition to their body of work. This might take a little more time, but the results will be well worth the extra effort.
Invest in your professional development
Maybe there’s a skill you didn’t quite master in college, or technology you’ve encountered in your career that you’d like use more effectively. Look into local seminars, online classes or other professional development opportunities outside of work to help bolster and hone your skills. Not only does it prove to your employer that you are committed to self-improvement, it can broaden your scope of industry knowledge and makes you a more attractive candidate to future employers. These days, many companies, offer professional development budgets or resources, be sure to take advantage of those if they are available to you.
Work on your personal brand
Because PR professionals are inherently media savvy, we often have our own media-related interests outside of pitching and liaising between reporters and clients. Maybe it’s digital (design or animation) or more traditional (lifestyle writing or food blogging). Pursue these interests outside of the workplace, then work on self-promotion. This could mean establishing a personal blog, creating a website to feature your work and accomplishments or leveraging your Twitter presence by engaging in relevant discussion and sharing original content.
Hustling for your own brand on the side through freelancing projects, thought pieces or burnishing your image across social media channels is a great way to distinguish yourself and ensure you’ll always have someone to rely on—you. Plus, owning a niche interest in the media landscape can come in handy on behalf of clients with specific needs.
Above all, stay hungry
For new relationships, new placements, new networking opportunities and new goals, staying hungry is the most important “soft skill” to keep in your arsenal. While many resolved last month to consume less in 2018, young PR professionals can’t afford to lose their appetites.