beyond the press release


New Year, New Decade, New Focus

New Year, New Decade, New Focus As befitting the start of a new year, we've all made a bunch of resolutions and promises to do more (or less), work smarter (not harder) and generally do much better in 2010. This, too, applies fully to PR.

And me? This year, I have sworn to do more for clients (within reason!) and do better overall -- personally and agency-wide. So here are my PR resolutions for a new era and a peek at how we're going to be doing things 'round here this year:

Do not overpromise or under-deliver

For many of us in 2009, we fell into the trap of saying "yes" to clients instead of saying "let's think about this," or "no." The desire to hang onto clients -- at all costs -- magnified those actions, and not necessarily for the best (see my earlier post "Great Expectations"). Instead, we're starting the year by laying down new ground rules, à la this is how we do it.



Spend more time feeding our minds with quality content and journalism

If the retailer's motto is "an educated consumer is our best customer," then our mantra is an educated PR pro is the best PR pro. Staying current and accurate are keys to success in our industry, and that means doing more than a quick Google-search worth of research before writing an article or release. Digesting quality news from quality outlets helps put stories in perspective, builds mental bridges between ideas and concepts, and generally lends depth to the work we do.

Embrace social media and mobile not by becoming self-taught "experts" but by learning from leaders in the respective fields

Social media and the mobile channel have matured as serious means of communication, and so should be our understanding of it. This does not mean relying on our mastery of personal Facebook profiles to design an effective social media strategy, or letting our iPhone obsession define our knowledge of the mobile space. These will increasingly become the core outlets of our outreach efforts, and we should give them the respect they deserve -- by letting the actual experts teach us.

Nurture a culture of loyalty, fulfillment and self-worth (and some fun) to keep working with the best talent

This is a no-brainer, but as business improves (hope, hope!) and the pressure of meeting clients' expectations mounts, it's important to remember that the best teammates are happy, fulfilled, motivated ones. My group may not be the richest bunch of PR professionals, but they are exceptionally loyal, talented, and creative -- and in 2010 I resolve to keep 'em that way!

Create deeper bonds with journalists because we need each other

When we say PR is about relationships, we usually mean the relationships with our clients, which, in turn,, deepens our understanding of their business, their industry, and their visibility goals. But perhaps our most important relationships -- and certainly the most well-used -- is those we have with the journalists and editors who tell our stories and use our information. Yes, they're mutually beneficial and, like all great relationships, we need to keep nurturing them.

Pursue the higher calling of storytelling

Any grade schooler can recognize the difference between an announcement and a story. Why is it so many public relations practitioners can't? Storytelling is an art; getting it right takes dedication, understanding and a willingness to see all angles. This year, we resolve to tell stories as best we can.

Communicate the inherent value of what we do for clients and to potential clients

It's not hyperbole to say that PR is one of the most misunderstood (and undervalued) services companies routinely pay for. It's our job to let clients know that what we deliver is a true partnership, a voice and a face to the public that leads to more business and better relationships. What we do as an industry is distill and translate the nuances of complex businesses (and non-profits) for consumption by the media, the public, and the respective industries. And that's a value far beyond measure.

To be sure, these resolutions should be much easier for me to keep than cutting out my 6 p.m. tipple. But resolutions, like good PR, take constant vigilance, dedication and, well, the resolution to see them through.

But we all can, right? Just watch.

Happy New Year!

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