You’re back from the holiday break, refreshed and recharged, and ready to tackle the plan for 2018.
This year will be different: You’ve made resolutions to use new channels, and you’ve committed to finding better ways of telling your story. You’re going to measure everything, and you’ll be bolder than ever before. Sound familiar?
Trying new things and striving for improvement are wonderful resolutions, but they’re also self-centered. If you’re in communications or PR, you work in an audience- and client-focused field. With that in mind, there’s only one New Year’s resolution you should make for 2018:
- I will respect and value the time and attention I get from my audiences.
If you communicate with your audiences’ needs and preferences in mind, you’re well on your way to a successful year. However, it helps to have checkpoints along the way to make sure you’re on track. Here are guidelines and principles to help communicators remain audience-centric in the coming year:
- I will listen before I speak.
- I will invest time and effort to understand the strategy and priorities of the business/leader I support.
- I will share information with my colleagues on other teams.
- I will focus on simplicity; then I will take what I create and make it even simpler.
- I will seek a seat at the table before plans and strategies are fully formed. Recognizing that this is a privilege and not a right, I will work to earn it.
- I support a business/leader, but I work for the employees. If a proposed communication approach doesn’t resonate with them, I will have the courage to stand up and change it.
- I will never insult colleagues’ intelligence with glib messaging that skirts the real issue. Employees deserve to be treated with respect. That means honesty and transparency, wherever and whenever possible.
- My job is not to crank out press releases whenever the company decides I should. My job is to protect and enhance the company’s reputation through effective storytelling.
- When we make worthless announcements, we hurt our brand. I will work hard this year to ensure that our organization understands this fact.
- I will push outside my comfort zone to achieve something I know is valuable for the organization.
- I will spend more time this year with journalists and work to cultivate meaningful connections.
- I will lead in a crisis. I will also refresh our crisis plans to ensure we are prepared.
- I will look inside our company to increase teamwork and collaboration. I will build rapport and trust with internal communications colleagues.
- I will challenge my agency partners to deliver better, more measurable results.
- I will reexamine my agency expectations. If my goals are unreasonable, I will adjust accordingly.
- I will provide more creativity, fresher ideas and better service for my clients.
- I will be honest. That means I will push back on bad or unrealistic client ideas, even if it means endangering a working relationship. Clients pay for honesty, not for an automatic “yes.”
- I will be consistently available and attentive for my clients. I will turn ideas around quickly.
- I will do more to understand my clients’ business and priorities, so I can spot trends and storylines before they emerge.
- I will work to understand the priorities of journalists. I will be helpful, concise and compelling whenever I have something to share.
- I will bring external insights and best practices to my clients, without their having to ask. I will become an indispensable expert in my field.
- Budgets are shrinking, and expectations are growing. Whatever we produce for clients will be relevant internally and externally, both with traditional and social media.
- I will actively seek out, listen to and act upon feedback from clients.
- I will focus on what my team does best, and if client needs fall outside our wheelhouse, I will bring in a partner.
- I will never leave a client wondering when or whether I will respond. Even if I don’t have an immediate answer, clients should know that they’re being heard.
Bringing it all together
None of these principles or goals should get in the way of your experimenting with emerging technologies, channels and approaches, nor should they interfere with your desire to be bolder and strive for more. They’re meant as reminders to keep you focused on the chief objective, which is to respect and value the time and attention you get from your audiences.
A version of this post first appeared on the Provident Communications blog.