Holiday spirit has taken over the Well Done Marketing office. We’ve covered the treadmill desk in ribbons and bows, strung lights through the halls, and placed presents under the tree. For most, the end of the year means the office is winding down—but our public relations team isn’t quite ready to activate our out-of-office replies.

The end of the year is a critical time for PR professionals—especially our team here at Well Done. During December, we dive into the deep end of evaluating and planning. By tracking our year-over-year success, we’re able to validate the work we do and results we get. More importantly, we’re able to leverage those lessons learned in the New Year. But what does this process look like? Which metrics should be measured? How can those insights help improve PR campaigns? Don’t Grinch-out: Here are five easy steps you can take to improve your PR in 2019.

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals.

At Well Done, our client relationships start with an honest conversation. It’s essential that we hear firsthand their unique challenges and opportunities before we put a plan together. That’s because every plan should start with a set of S.M.A.R.T. goals:

S—Specific

M—Measurable

A—Attainable

R—Relevant

T—Timely

So, step one: set S.M.A.R.T. goals. This sounds like an easy first step, but it can actually be incredibly challenging. The key is to begin with the 50,000-foot view and work with your team to narrow it down from there. Here are some examples of good goals made even better:

Good

  1. Increase community partnerships.
  2. Build social media audiences.
  3. Strengthen media relations.

Better

  1. Increase community partnerships by 10-12%.
  2. Grow social media audiences by 1-3% quarterly.
  3. Foster relationships with media partners to pitch 2 stories per month.

By identifying the top three to four goals your team would like to accomplish over the course of a campaign, the organization will have a clearer understanding of which objectives support which goals. Plus, the goal-setting process can create strong synergies among work teams as everyone unites around the same vision.

Create an editorial calendar.

Once PR teams have landed on their S.M.A.R.T. goals, it’s time to use what you’ve got. Enter the editorial calendar. Some teams create editorial calendars for the entire year. Others choose to work a few months at a time. Regardless, an editorial calendar is a great way to gauge your built-in PR opportunities.

Editorial calendars will look different for every team. Some will rely heavily on holidays and significant dates, while others may outline campaigns being launched at specific points in time. Editorial calendars can be created in simple spreadsheets that help organize content, or they can be built in project management systems like Basecamp, Mavenlink, or SmartSheet. The key: don’t think fancy—think functional.

Once the editorial calendar has been organized, PR teams can do a few different things, such as:

  • Forecast coming opportunities.
  • Identify and fill gaps.
  • Develop a plan to optimize content.

So we’ve set S.M.A.R.T. goals and created an editorial calendar. Now let’s talk about what to do next.

Don’t be afraid to get tactical.

A recent Forbes article shared a few incredible stats about communication in our world. According to contributor Bernard Marr, each day we send 16 million text messages, 156 million emails, and more than 3.7 billion humans use the internet. Which means creativity is now an essential skill for a PR professional—because it’s harder than ever before to create content that gets noticed.

The editorial calendar is a great tool to forecast happenings on the horizon, but teams must also invest time creating tactical plans. These tactical plans should take audience, channel, distribution, and content into consideration to determine the best way to optimize exposure and engagement—all of which should, upon completion, support the predetermined goals. See how things are starting to come full circle?

Let me walk this out for you with an example from one of Well Done’s most delicious clients, Tinker Street. When we met with Tinker Street, their goal was pretty straightforward: attract repeat, lapsed, and new customers who identify with or want to experience their kind of restaurant. So, with that goal, our team got to work.

We built an editorial calendar to outline national days that might coincide with their menu (we’re looking at you, National Wine Day). But we took that calendar a step further. We had in-depth conversations to understand their menu and learn how Chef Braedon draws culinary inspiration. Then we explored what was happening on the Indy foodie scene. From there, we got tactical.

With help from some of our favorite influencers, we coordinated an invite-only dining event. Our thought was simple: once local foodies participate in Tinker Street’s dining event, they’ll want to share the experience with their respective networks. This would help grow awareness about Tinker Street and drive patrons to the restaurant. But we didn’t stop there. We also pitched the fall menu to our friends at Indy Style. Luckily, they love Tinker Street as much as we do—don’t take our word for it, check it out.

There was a point in time where sending a press release was the tactic, and at the time one tactic was enough. But today technology has disrupted how our audiences consume information, making it more important than ever to develop a multifaceted approach to sharing information. If content is king, distribution is queen.

Identify your metrics.

So you’ve got your goal. Built your calendar. Even developed your tactics. The end is in sight, right? Wrong. Successful PR campaigns are in implementation from start to finish. PR professionals should identify metrics that will help evaluate a campaign’s success in moving you closer to your goal. Here are a few examples:

  • Sessions from social media to your website.
  • Clicks out from your company e-newsletter.
  • Earned media coverage—sentiment, volume, reach, or value.

The ways you can track your success can feel endless, which is why it’s important to determine which metrics matter most. By watching those metrics, PR professionals can accurately report success to clients and demonstrate the role of PR in strengthening the bottom line.

Track, track, track.

Last, but certainly not least: Track your metrics over time. At Well Done, we report for most of our PR clients monthly and annually. Through this process, we’re able to gauge our efforts while providing context to clients who may not completely understand the PR process. We’re also able to validate where we’re succeeding, and, more importantly, where we’re not seeing much improvement. Sometimes clients love us the most when we’re honest about things that aren’t working, freeing up time and resources to pursue tactics that do work.

If these five steps have left you feeling overwhelmed, don’t fret. You aren’t alone. Contact us today to start discussing your PR needs in 2019. You’ve still got a few days before our OOO messages are turned on!