A 2014 to-do list for the PR industry

A 2014 to-do list for the PR industry

Editor's note: A few weeks ago, Adrienne Erin shared 10 New Year's resolutions for PR pros. Today, Julia Sahin shares a 2014 to-do list for the PR profession, as a whole. Have other predictions or ideas for the New Year and want to let us know? Consider becoming a guest contributor!

To-do lists are usually divided into two categories: tasks that can be completed immediately and goals that will take longer to accomplish. The public relations industry’s to-do list is no different, and the long-term goals need to concentrate on improving the industry’s reputation. It’s an oxymoron, really: we manage the reputation of our companies and clients, but have difficulty managing our own.

Here’s a list of goals for the PR industry to put on its to-do list for 2014 to advance the profession:

  • Define Public Relations. There has yet to be a comprehensive definition created for the industry that everyone can agree on, because PR involves many different functions. The Public Relations Society of America has one that is commonly referred to, but in my opinion, it doesn’t fully define what the profession can do. In order for people to understand what we do, we first need to fully define it. 
  • Go beyond communication and really understand companies/clients. PR professionals need to understand the financials (yes, we need to be “numbers” people), operations and inner workings of our companies or clients. Not only will this help develop better PR plans and media pitches, but it will also help eliminate frivolous efforts. If you know your company inside and out, you know the best way to do PR for it. Many professionals have already accomplished this, but if you haven’t, add it to your list! 
  • Get public relations a seat at the table. As PR professionals, we need to be part of ongoing business conversations, assuring that company decisions are ethical. The value we bring is predicting stakeholder and media reactions. And if that’s not a good enough argument, it’s also a way of preventing a crisis.  
  • Keep ethics at our core. We’re no longer “spin masters,” but our industry’s reputation isn’t golden. If we’re not doing things ethically, our reputation, and our company’s reputation, suffers. Companies and professionals that are ethical stay in business for the long-run.
  • Work on our writing. We need to continue improving our writing and editing skills. But we also need to master new(er) skills, like writing for shared and owned media. If every company is now a media company, the PR pro is the storyteller.   
  • Understand journalists and their profession better. The biggest mistake we make in media relations is that we pitch the wrong journalists. We all know this, so we need to work on our pitching skills. But we also need to understand how their industry has changed and how we can adapt to the new state of journalism.
  • Plan based on objectives, think strategically, act tactically. The best public relations campaigns combine creativity with strategy to meet a business objective. We need to keep the end goal in mind at all times when we plan for our clients and companies. This should become a standard, not a reach goal (although if you read my previous blog post, you know that doing PR for the sake of doing PR is not completely gone quite yet).
  • Help companies use social media properly. Most executives still don’t understand social media, why they should be on it and the value of engagement. Since social media is in our territory, it’s now our job to educate them in their language: data and numbers. 
  • Prove our tangible worth. Most companies know there’s a benefit in doing PR, and they can feel the results, but we, as PR pros, need to develop a more effective way to identify and demonstrate the tangible benefits of what we do (or translate intangibles to tangibles). 
  • Do more research. With the rise of Big Data and social media analytics, we need to understand how to leverage these tools to further our roles and the industry as a whole. Researching and mining through data can provide valuable insights to formulate new, more successful campaigns. 

What items would you add to PR's 2014 to-do list? Share them in the comments below!

Julia Sahin is a PR & Corporate Communications graduate student at NYU and a PR consultant. She plans on doing big things. 

Photo: To-do list 2014 via Shutterstock

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