In the midst of constant political and technological flux, the world of communications can feel unsettling.  Automation may present a live and present threat, but if professionals concentrate on the fundamentals and add value, marketing and public relations offers a variety of opportunities.

Here are ten New Year resolutions that will ensure you’re best placed to capitalise on the year ahead. It all starts with you

1. Professional journey

As with any industry, one way to stay ahead is to concentrate on your Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

The launch of the Global Alliance’s competency framework makes it easier than ever to identify skills gaps from entry level public relations right through to mid-senior level capabilities.

Critically, the framework moves practitioners away from a focus on tactical abilities and encourages development in management, consultancy and financial skills.

2. Practice what you preach

At the start of every year I go back to a checklist of things I need to do for my own business and much of it is the basic hygiene you’d recommend to clients.

Check your website is up-to-date, enhance your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), clean your database, and develop your own marketing campaign.

I also revisit my business plan and bring this up to date – critical if you want to scale. It’s a useful prompt for checking whether your business model is still fit for purpose or whether you need to innovate.

3. Go channel neutral

I wrote last year about the blurring lines between disciplines. The skillset needed in public relations is widening so either upskill or ensure you have access to the relevant experts if you’re not hands on.

Any good public relations practitioner will already be employing the PESO model that sees campaigns developed around Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media.

At my agency we do a full comms audit for clients upon appointment to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s the perfect induction to an organisation and means we can make appropriate and measureable recommendations.

Make sure you understand the different comms channels out there, the type of content they require and choose which are appropriate based on return on investment.

4. Measure and evaluate

There is no longer any excuse not to measure public relations campaigns against business outcomes.

Last year the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) launched its latest framework, which is a step-by-step process to linking organisational objectives to communication objectives and measures across all PESO channels. It’s free and interactive so if you’re not using this already, I urge you to start now.

5. Read, read, read

Finding alternative perspectives and identifying trends early is important to PR practice and that comes naturally when you read widely. The Holmes Report and Spin Sucks, while very different, offer international perspectives, and industry blogs such as www.wadds.co.uk, comms2point0.co.uk and www.futureproofingcomms.co.uk all host a wide range of industry content that will get you thinking. They’ll feed into your CPD plan too.

If reading isn’t your thing or you can’t find the time, seek out the best industry podcasts. There are a few out there and they’re perfect for commutes, dog walks or even while you do the weekly shop.

6. Educate employers

Give me a soapbox and I’ll wax lyrical about the role of public relations as a management discipline. Public relations wouldn’t have a public relations problem if we all took responsibility for talking it up and educating employers and the business community about the value it can bring. If we want to achieve a seat at the management table, we need to tell people why we deserve it.

7. Set yourself new stretch targets

What’s your big dream workwise? Whatever it is, make that your focus of the next twelve months.

If it’s how to inhabit the role of the CEO’s trusted adviser, work out what you need to do to inhabit the role appropriately and talk to those who are already in that position.

If you want to take on employees, seek advice and work out your financial ratios so you know what fee income you need to cover salary costs. Investigate your legal obligations and any available grants to help you grow.

Whatever it is you want to achieve, plan it out and measure your progress monthly.

8. Network

If expansion is the name of the game, networking is a brilliant way to meet new prospects, as well as potential associates and employees. Pick your events wisely and make the most of your time – identify who you want to meet and prepare so you can have a meaningful exchange.

Social media also provides the perfect platform for widening your network but make sure you’re engaging with people and not just broadcasting what you think they want to hear.

9. Be the change that you want to see

We can all be the change we want to see. If you have a team or have plans to expand, employ agile working from the start. Not only does this create a better work life balance for your employees, clients also benefit from having someone available at different times of the day and week.

When recruiting think about diversity. Public relations teams should be representative of society. Don’t self reference and seek out guidance from organisations like the Taylor Bennett Foundation, if needed.

Finally, play your part in ironing out the gender pay gap. Take HR advice and be transparent with your pay scales. Only once every business has to publish their salaries will pay discrepancy be a thing of the past.

10. Give back

Last but not least, build in time to give back. As I’ve progressed up the career ladder, I’ve benefited from the help and guidance of others. Be that person and help the next generation find their way. Working with someone as a mentor helps you grow as a person and will expand your own knowledge. It’s time but it’s also win-win and you’ll be glad you did.

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