How to prioritize your PR goals

Communicators know this is a never-ending job. Here are some tips for how to choose what can wait, what’s an emergency and what isn’t worth the time.

An article in The New York Times and a segment on CNN—in the same month—constitute a huge success.

That is, until next month comes around.

It’s overwhelming to serve clients and managers who are never satisfied, and without the skills to triage, an unending workload can lead to disengagement—or that dreaded word: burnout.

Mark Manson writes in his book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” that there is only so much bandwidth and attention you have in a day, both personally and professionally. It’s essential to focus on what is truly important and forget the rest.

Managing your time is easy in theory, but difficult in practice. Emergencies happen, whether it’s an urgent client crisis, breaking news or a child with the flu.

Here are five tips for discerning what needs your immediate attention:

1. Identify what’s most crucial.

To prioritize, you need to know what is important. While consulting management is a good first step, it’s common to hear “it’s all important” or “work on everything.” Try thinking like the CEO, the client or the CMO. What would really help increase sales, build a brand, and exceed the client’s stated goals? Focus your energy on projects that solve problems instead of creating more work.

2. Set reasonable expectations.

All managers and clients should be able to provide expectations for each project. If they cannot provide this framework, be sure that you’re suggesting deliverables to keep everyone on the same page. Don’t over promise.

If everyone agrees what success looks like, projects will have concrete goals and less unnecessary worry or stress. Make sure that the finish line is clearly marked, so when you reach it, you have a cue to move on to the next project.

3. Make a list.

Some people love lists; others don’t. However, lists are the best way to structure work to ensure daily activities align with your weekly project goals, not to mention monthly benchmarks and quarterly reviews. It’s easy for the day to get away from you if you aren’t driving to a specific business goal. Start with one big, hairy, audacious goal, and work backward from there.

4. Take breaks.

Don’t be afraid to block time off for a project without daily distractions. Are you getting swamped by incoming emails? Turn off wi-fi for an hour. Is a colleague dropping by every 15 minutes and interrupting your workflow? Step away from your desk and work from a coffee shop or other undisclosed location. It’s easy for projects to fall by the wayside unless you make time for them.

5. Talk it out.

Chances are a PR veteran has been there before. Network with other industry colleagues to find out what works for them. Find out what processes work for your colleagues and layer in anything that would make sense for your work style. Be open to switching things up. What works today might not work six months from now.

A great way to build your personal PR network is to attend in-person or virtual conferences, join local PR groups, search for other PR pros on social media, participate in PR mentorship and other opportunities.

How do you keep your priorities straight, PR Daily readers?

Kristin Miller manages public relations for cybersecurity leader Webroot. Follow her on Twitter @KristinMiller.

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Topics: PR

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