The early days of the new year are upon us. We’ve rested and relaxed over the holidays, probably eaten a bit more than normal, hopefully slept a bit more than usual. We’re refreshed, ready to tackle the challenges ahead of us. How do you make sure you take advantage of the fresh start? Here are our recommendations for the top 7 things you need to do as a public relations or marketing professional to set the stage for a successful 2014.
1. Refresh your blog reading. Take a few minutes to prune down the blogs you no longer read and add a few new ones to the mix for some fresher ideas. Be sure to subscribe to blogs outside the core of your industry or vertical to expand your mind. Using the blog reader of your choice, such as Feedly, Flipboard, Zite, etc., make use of their respective discovery tabs to find new publications that you might not have thought to read. If 2014 is going to be the year of things like brand journalism, native advertising, content marketing, and more, you’ll want to know about it sooner rather than later.
2. Clean up your media lists. Using anything and everything from free services like LinkedIn to paid services like Cision, SocMetrics, and Data.com (#client), invest the time now, up front, early in the year, to clean up your media lists. Many people have made job changes and transitions in their careers, so even data that was reasonably fresh in October or November of last year simply won’t cut it. A super easy way to do this? Send your media contacts a simple email wishing them a happy new year, then pay attention to the out of office responses you get. Make note of whose addresses have gone bad and any forwarding information that they’ve left.
3. Do your editorial calendars. The early days of the year are the best time to get calendars and themes planned out, before the pace of business picks up fully. Figure out what themes you’ll tackle, what topics you’ll write about, what content you’ll create. Map it all out on a whiteboard, mind map, or other visual medium so that you can have it posted throughout the year, make changes to it, and see how it’s playing out.
4. Review your marketing analytics from last year. Look back at the past year’s data in your web analytics and make note of unusual spikes in traffic, determine what caused them, and see if there’s an opportunity to leverage any trends to make those spikes repeatable and larger this year. What really worked? Look at the most popular blog posts on your blog. What should you expand on? What would be worth turning into a presentation or an eBook?
5. Do your brainstorming sessions now. People have had a chance to refresh over the holidays, to take some time and pressure of work off their minds. The early days of the year are one of the best times to tap into their creativity, before the intensity of work gets to full speed. Take advantage of all of the time your team has had to incubate ideas and experience things other than their daily tasks.
6. Schedule as much of your social as reasonable. Using any of the free 2014 holiday calendars available like this one from TimeandDate.com, take the time to write out social media updates and schedule them now, so that you don’t forget any and you have appropriate content ready to go. Make a log of what you’ve scheduled and when so that if events necessitate, you can quickly delete or postpone your updates, but there’s no reason you can’t have your Cinco de Mayo or Mother’s Day content ready and scheduled now.
7. Archive and mark as read all your email from last year. Take some time to clean up, delete all the stuff you don’t need at all, and put the rest of last year’s email in an archive. It’ll free up both mental space and make getting to the urgent stuff, as it comes in, easier. Let’s face it, if you have emails in your inbox sitting around from last September, you’re not getting to them and you know it.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology
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