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Top 5 PR things to do in 2017

It’s time to look into the glass bowl! How can we as PR professionals improve our game and make sure to leave our mark on 2017? As the world becomes smaller the number of voices to be heard grows bigger. Times are turbulent and the way we communicate and interact is constantly changing. We want news and we want them fast – on the other hand we want products, brands and people to be sustainable, trustworthy and with a high level of quality. It’s a paradox that leaves PR people with huge challenges.

This is my top five on things to focus on if you want to make 2017 a successful PR year.

1. Get a PR strategy!

It might seem very fundamental but nevertheless, a successful PR year starts with a strategy. Define your yearly targets and the PR tools to be used in order to reach targets. For sure you have a financial target but do not let it be your only target. Looking only at financial figures says nothing about the quality of your PR. Include for instance targets on local PR coverage or specific content (brand story, CSR, products etc.). Therefore, be as detailed as you can when reporting back on PR results. Two great stories with small PR value might have a big impact on brand value long term. Reaching a big audience might look good on paper but reaching the right people with the right story can be much more important. Depending of course on what you want to achieve with your PR – perhaps you want to have instant sales results or perhaps you want to work on the reputation of your brand. Or perhaps you want both. Two very different things but nevertheless they walk hand in hand as today’s consumer is both critical and passionate.

As communication channels have exploded you have to be extremely selective and strategic when defining which platforms and which people to use for what stories. You cannot do everything. Better to do a small spot on PR campaign instead of a big campaign with an unclear messaging and target group.

2. Don’t be shy

Today, everybody has a story to tell and the platform to do it. This challenges the PR professionals, as he or she cannot be an expert in all types of communication channels. Do not think you can make it entirely on your own. There are people out there, who know more than you do so make sure to liaison with experts in each field. PR has always been about the ability to get your story told by the right people. Network, network, network and of course a great story pitch targeted classic media like newspapers, television and magazines. But what is hot today is not tomorrow. The classic PR as we know it cannot stand alone and today you have to juggle digital platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, you name it. New PR channels keep popping up and if you do not learn how to play the game and learn it fast, you might as well take a seat on the bench. Therefore, be curious and make friends (or buy yourself external expertise) with people who can guide you in the right direction and make you understand the next generation PR.

3. Storytelling is key

All PR people love a good story – make sure that you know how to tell it. With an audience that browses quickly through a never ending stream of news, videos and blog posts relevant storytelling is more important than ever. But how do you keep up with the pace and still manage to create meaningful and honest content? First of all you have to have great stories to tell. Amaze and educate – create emotional and relevant content. Make sure that you do not waste anyone’s time. Always let your communication be genuine and trustworthy. People know that everything is for sale – a fact that has put pressure on for instance the blog industry. Tailor your stories in order to fit and reach specific media and target groups. Short and sweet for online, long in-depth stories for supplements and magazines. As a counter reaction to digital mass communication more and more specialized magazines appear on the scene and being nerdy is hotter than ever.

4. We love movies

PR people seem to agree that video is the thing right now. Whether you go with humor, authentic or romance video instantly creates an emotional context, which is easy for the consumer to tap into. The must celebrated YouTube stars is an example of how powerful a tool can be.

How to make smokey eyes or crispy French fries – short and sweet content with a personal touch. Therefore, it is crucial that PR people know how to integrate video in their PR strategy. Who, why and how needs to be considered carefully depending on target groups and story line. Remember to challenge agency recommendations based entirely on number of viewers, clicks and followers. Things can easily backfire if the DNA of an ambassador and a brand do not match. We want credible storytelling and this goes for video as well.

5. Be a professional and be proud of it

With the explosion in PR channels, PR people need to upgrade their skills to stay in the game. Today, there are many players out there – some are very capable and some are not. Just remember that the talent of getting the story told and the ability to match the right media with the right stories at the right time is still the primary asset of a skilled PR professional. Despite this specific talent PR people tend to attract a broad palette of tasks related to writing – social media, online, translation, marketing, even sales and HR. The smaller the organization, the bigger risk that you are whirled into time consuming assignments not really related to PR. Even though you like writing consider carefully how you spend your time  – before you know it PR is just a small part of your daily tasks. Keep in mind that PR is a discipline, which generates value to the organization even though you might not see it directly on the bottom line.

Hopefully, this top 5 will inspire you to focus on how you can optimize your efforts and create great results in 2017.

See you out there in the PR jungle!

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