Susan Shelby, FSMPS, CPSM President & CEO Rhino PR
Refresh your strategic plan to stay current with today’s top industry trends
A new year is on the way and the possibilities are endless. Just as you set your own personal resolutions for 2017, you should also be making business-minded resolutions. Now is the perfect time to dust off that PR and marketing plan and refresh it for the upcoming year.
From traditional marketing methods to online marketing strategies, a strong PR and marketing plan should include tools that support your firm’s business goals.
Identify Growth Opportunities
Align your marketing and PR strategy with your 2017 business goals and objectives. Your target audience may not be where your highest growth potential lies. Before allocating resources, identify your projected growth areas. Taking time to survey your clients, evaluate your firm’s strengths and weaknesses, and look at the marketplace as a whole, will help you determine emerging trends and growth areas so you can anticipate and adjust to meet future demands.
Review 2016 Efforts and Results
What worked and didn’t work about your 2016 PR and marketing? Now is the time to critically analyze your 2016 initiatives, adjusting based on what was successful, what was not successful, and what needs to be altered to reflect any industry changes.
Refresh Key Messages
Do your key messages define the identity, purpose, and unique abilities of your firm? Will they promote your firm in a way that leads to growth? Think like your clients to determine what your firm excels at and what makes you unique. You should have three to five clear, simple key messages that communicate the differentiators of your firm.
Audit Marketing Materials
Your firm’s brochures, website and email newsletters are key marketing and business development tools. Evaluate them and adjust as necessary to make sure you are using these vital tools to attract and retain business. The goal is to demonstrate expertise, promote your firm’s unique skills, and drive traffic to your website or – better yet – result in a request for more information. Remember to build key words into your content for search engine optimization, and employ metrics to track website analytics.
Update PR Plan
Public relations can help promote your firm brand and identity, gain the third-party validation of respected media outlets, and keep your firm in front of potential clients on a regular basis. Support your firm’s strategic business goals with press releases, byline articles, speaking opportunities, and industry awards. Now is the time to create an editorial content calendar for 2017 that will keep you on track with regularly scheduled PR projects. Don’t forget to include your company’s various social media channels on that editorial content calendar as well!
Review and Update Media List
Review and update your media list as necessary. Press contacts may leave, email addresses can change, and sometimes new industry publications are created. In 2016, the Boston AEC market gained two new publications – Construction Dive and BldUp. Be sure to seek new media connections and include them on your media list.
Set Goals for Byline Articles and Press Releases
Your PR plan should include regularly distributed press releases and byline articles to maintain the presence of your firm in the media. Set goals to determine how often you want to engage in these, and create a calendar to monitor and track opportunities. Many publications have released their 2017 editorial calendars, so research them now to avoid missing an important deadline in the new year. Ideally, we recommend you aim for one press release per month and one byline article per quarter.
Set Goals for Speaking Opportunities and Industry Awards
You should plan to participate in relevant conferences and award programs to promote your firm as a thought leader and industry expert. Identify conferences and industry award programs that are the best fit for your consultants and expertise. Employ a Go/No Go process to determine which programs hold the most value for you. Keep in mind that what is not a fit this year, could be a fit the following year. For example, a conference might take place outside your target geography this year, but next year’s location might be more appropriate. Your firm might not have a project worthy of an AIA award this year, but could plan to submit in 2018. Continue to monitor all potential opportunities. (SMPS Members – Be on the lookout for the SMPS Boston award call for entries in early 2017!)
Achieving your goals will be a lot easier when other employees support and promote the need for a strong PR and marketing plan. Explain the many benefits of marketing, public relations, and media outreach. Teach staff who interact with clients how to identify and promote new business opportunities, and encourage staff to contribute to content creation in the form of blogs, articles, white papers, and educational videos to establish thought leadership. Set goals to have everyone participate in a PR or marketing project in 2017.
Prepare for the Unknown
Does your firm have a crisis communications plan, and if so, are all staff members aware of it? A crisis or unexpected event that focuses media attention on your firm can be disruptive to your normal business operations and have a real or perceived negative impact on your company. A well-conceived crisis communications plan will outline who to alert in the event of an unfortunate event, how to develop and implement your firm’s response to it, and how to provide staff with the tools they need to handle the situation. Make sure your firm has a solid crisis communications plan in place and that all staff have access to it.
Refreshing your PR and marketing plans to align with today’s industry trends will help you conquer your marketing goals. Approach the new year like a blank book, writing your own chapters, and creating your own masterpiece. May you find much happiness, health, and success in 2017.