New Year? Time for a New Plan

As we roll into the New Year, it’s an excellent time to review your media and public relations plan, whether the benchmark is the change of the calendar or the fiscal year. The discipline of making a plan helps you focus on important objectives like transmitting key messages, content strategy, social and web channels. It’s also time for reviewing your available communications tools and establishing metrics for measurement—what does success look like?

Also it’s time to look at your tactics. We know that with cord-cutting, VOD-video on demand and streaming services are going to be more important plays. With 60 million Americans listening to Podcasts every week (according to Nielsen), we have to think audio as well.

Also, if you have a budget, then you establish guidelines for expenditures and also look at potential return on investment. For example, the metrics for a business might be an expenditure on advertising should result in a certain ROI in terms of new business, or at least measurables like an increase in web traffic, customers in the store or general visibility. On the public relations side, it is always a little more difficult to measure ROI, but one of my observations is you won’t see a successful business without a strong PR plan. I can’t prove one drives the other, but one certainly doesn’t seem to exist without the other. And companies without strong PR are the most vulnerable when a crisis hits.

In public relations, we are increasingly focusing on the PESO model because of the advent of social and shared media. PESO stands for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned. Because of the rise of social media, you are seeing a lot of social media experts, who tend to be digital natives, now running marketing and PR departments, who weren’t necessarily trained in marketing and PR. Likewise, you have marketing and PR people doing social, who weren’t trained in that area. And like all businesses, what you learned in school is very different than what happens in the real world. Increasingly if you want something to go “viral” it is very difficult to do so without paid being involved the way the social sites are now engineered.

To start with a plan, think about your goals for 2019. The next step is to come up with messaging that would support those goals. Who are the audiences you need to reach? Brands tend to put their money where the audience is—if that audience is on social media, or they see billboards on the highway, or commercials on radio or television, that’s where the money goes. So, consider all the communications channels available and determine which are most appropriate for your messaging and your audience. The great thing about media is that it is malleable—some messages work better on Instagram than say local television. You don’t have to commit all your dollars to one campaign, you can measure and experiment incrementally and see what works best.

It’s still important to have media contacts. You should know the key media influencers that are relevant to your business, whether they are bloggers or reports, and you should know a lot about the outlets that are important in your industry, particularly in B2B. It’s wise to follow developments in your industry, whether it means using a monitoring service or Google Alerts. Being proactive is wise —you should have the relationships in place before you need them. That might mean doing desk side visits with reporters or going to industry events to meet bloggers. Often you can socialize with them online to build relationships. Some media outlets even have tours and other low stress meet and greets. Before meeting an influencer or reporter, always check out their work so you are familiar with what they cover or their point of view. This will also help you develop a crisis communications plan, which is another topic, but it’s better not to meet a reporter for the first time in a crisis situation.

For your social media channels, build an editorial calendar in advance that will create a template for your content. On the shared media side, if you have some non-profit partnerships, it is time to reach out to your non-profit partners to see what media assets you can share to each other’s benefit.

Finally, on the paid part of the media side, although you may think it would be cheaper to buy media yourself, it is almost always cheaper to work through a media buyer. The more media you buy, the more affordable it becomes. But that only works if it drives results!