Though 2021 has been turbulent with many highs and lows, you’re likely still scratching your head, wondering how it’s almost over. As we head into the Autumn season, it’s time to start thinking about your end-of-year goals.
Did you accomplish what you set out to do during this lap around the sun? Has your business grown? And if not, have you improved your organizational skills and functions? Did you improve your website or SEO footprint? There are many ways to measure success, and part of developing PR strategies is thinking holistically about your company.
To set end-of-year goals that give a true impression of where you’re at now and where you’re projecting, take advice from these industry veterans.
Figure out where you’re at right now.
To continuously expand your business and improve your bottom line, it’s vital to set goals and make a concrete plan on how to meet them. Before you can start making strides, however, you have to determine your foundation. The first step is to have a historical understanding of the media cadence thus far, advises Patrick Gevas, a vice president at GreenRoom. To do this, he recommends asking the following questions:
- Have we only received product-based coverage?
- How has thought leadership placement paced?
- What areas are we exceeding?
- Which areas are falling short?
“Understanding the entire landscape of your coverage is important in setting goals for the remainder of the year,” he adds.
Chat with your clients about what’s working — and what’s not.
Arguably one of the most vital parts of developing PR strategies is building client relationships. As a publicist, you are their go-to expert and guru for all things concerning the media. So why shouldn’t they be part of the conversation? When evaluating your year-end goals, it never hurts to start by circling back to your clients and considering what's working and what isn't, recommends Meghan Ely, the owner of OFD Consulting.
“A great example of this is by putting together a survey to send out annually or semi-annually to your clients. Before setting your own benchmarks, it's helpful to connect with everyone to see what their goals are, what they've accomplished, and what they're already looking ahead to moving forward,” she explains.
This can be incredibly helpful since it provides insight and a pulse on their business and working dynamic. “As a publicist, you can then determine what would be the best fit regarding the next media coverage milestones,” she adds.
Be strategic about your data.
Of course, you can’t set end-of-year goals without knowing your data points. However, often, many companies pull numbers out of the air, so it’s also important to understand where a goal is coming from and why Gevas says. As you think about pulling critical information, he says to explore these questions:
- Do you want to beat last year’s numbers?
- Do you want to encroach on a competitor’s media mindshare?
- Are you looking to brand your spokesperson?
- Is there an investor you’re looking to show traction for funding?
- Are you seeking to grow your own e-commerce?
“All of these are fair, but it’s always helpful to track to the why,” he says. “The WHY behind the goals can guide not only the approach but how success is measured.”
Consider seasonal timeframes.
In case you’ve somehow been able to miss the Instagram posts and TikTok videos, the holidays are right around the corner. And not just the December ones: there is also the start of fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year’s to consider, too. These last quarter celebrations will likely impact your end-of-year goals, so make sure to keep seasonal timeframes in mind as you think about coverage opportunities.
As Gevas recommends, you should think about if your clients are suited for holiday gift guides or better for the ‘new year, new you’ approach. A good way to map out these decisions is to play the ‘Is this really a fit?’ game before you pitch media.
“Many times, brands interchange the two and end up disappointed if a story they want to see doesn’t land and can have a tremendous impact on the goals that were set,” Gevas continues. “Marrying the goals with an actual story and not a hollow marketing message is the key to realizing the goals the team sets.”
Remember, coverage comes in many forms.
Another facet of setting media goals is managing expectations when it comes to being published, Ely says. What does she mean? Everyone has their dream media placements — whether it's getting a wedding featured in Martha Stewart Weddings or being quoted in New York Times — but there's a lot that can be said for being open-minded and casting a wider net.
“Podcast interviews, speaking engagements, and industry awards are just a few examples of ways that you can diversify your efforts,” she continues. “It's easy to become set in our ways and limit ourselves to eyeing the bigger features and chasing down writers, but often, that can mean missing out on great opportunities elsewhere.”
Also, while most clients will prefer to be featured as part of an earned media effort, Gevas says it can be helpful to understand if there is an incremental spend that can be applied to the end of the year. “While earned media is always most impactful, a few well-placed paid opportunities can also bolster efforts during a particularly noisy time,” he adds.
Give your visuals a second look.
As you start to prepare for 2022 and set end-of-year goals, remember to keep imagery in mind. While press mentions are great, you may not be getting as many as you could if your image were better styled and presented. “This is the perfect opportunity for publicists to take stock of assets to make sure they’re leading with the strongest visuals to support the initiatives,” Gevas says.
How come? Goals can start to fall apart without a strong visual to aid in the story, and it’s often up to the publicists to identify gaps in the creative. Think about these questions:
- Does the brand have enough lifestyle imagery?
- Are there compelling videos?
- Is it time for a refresh?
Keep a pulse on world events.
Though we are all ready to put the pandemic behind us and move forward, COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country. Not to mention natural disasters like hurricanes and forest fires. So as you make these end-of-year goals, do not discount the importance of being fluid with the pace of world events.
“The news cycle has never been more unpredictable, and an important breaking story can push back a number of stories. Keeping communication lines open between all stakeholders is very important, as well as contingency plans,” Gevas says. “Tracking to a specific goal is always important, but one of the tactics we employ is making sure they’re attainable and then setting internal stretch goals to really make an impact at the end of the year.”