5 August To-Dos for Communications Pros
It’s August. Which means that work is probably about to get really, really busy, really, really quickly. But before you bid farewell to summer—and summer Fridays!—take advantage of the next few semi-quiet weeks to get your PR house in order.
Do your media lists need a refresher? Is your promotions calendar a little outdated? Has your network gone a little quiet? Here, we’ve outlined a pre-September PR checklist to get you organized, updated, and ready to roll. After Labor Day, of course.
1. Update Your Media Lists
As you’ve likely experienced, journalists tend to change beats and outlets frequently, and keeping on top of who is where is essential to nurturing your relationships and securing great coverage around your next big announcements.
So, if you haven’t updated your media lists in a few weeks (months?), now is a great time. Deep dive into the top-tier and trade publications most relevant to your brand and research the journalists writing stories about your industry and competitors. If you’re having trouble tracking down contact details for your target journalists and have a few extra summer dollars, check out media databases like Gorkana or Vocus that can help fill in the blanks. Otherwise, don’t make it hard on yourself: A good Excel spreadsheet with the journalist’s name, outlet, and contact details is all you need.
2. Refresh Your Messaging
Is that boilerplate looking a little stale? Been explaining your brand with the same five words for the past five years?
While it’s important to keep your messaging consistent, that doesn’t mean you need to be locked into using the same four-sentence paragraph for all of eternity. So, pretend it’s mid-March and your messaging documents are your closet: Keep the essentials and toss the rest. Plan a brainstorm session with relevant stakeholders and refresh your positioning. For inspiration, ask everyone on the team to write a new boilerplate or mission statement—without using any of the words you’ve used to explain it in the past.
3. Update Your Promotions Calendar
It happens every year: You think you’ll have enough time to do it all, and then you forget to submit an application for an industry award, or you double-book a networking breakfast and a conference, and it all starts to get out of hand. To help keep you organized—and, more importantly, strategic—build a master calendar with all of the events you want to attend or speak at, awards you want to enter, and all of the launch dates you have confirmed for upcoming announcements. If you want to be a stickler (be a stickler!), enter deadlines into your personal calendar so you’re getting reminders alongside your meeting invites.
4. Network! In Person!
Networking may be part of the job, but securing, confirming and then actually attending a lunch meeting when things are crazy can seem like a feat in itself. So, spend the next few weeks making a list of all of the people you’d like to connect with, and see what you can get scheduled this month. Not only will it ensure you get face time with important industry contacts before things get hectic, but it’s a great opportunity to tout some of the fun announcements and initiatives you’re working on for the fall.
5. Make Yourself an Expert
As a PR professional, you’re expected to be an expert on both your industry and your company. Because you know the landscape inside and out, you know what to emphasize—and what to stay away from!—when creating your company’s communications plans. But, realistically, there are likely areas of both your industry and company that could use a little more of your attention. Maybe your product team has just begun to develop an app that you haven’t spent much time researching, or there was an industry bill that was recently passed that you’d like to learn more about. Spend this downtime getting yourself up to speed—you’ll be glad for the extra intel when September hits.
Want to keep yourself updated all year round? Each week, add one item from your PR checklist to your to-do list, and spend whatever extra hours you have that week refreshing it. Then, pick one day a quarter to revisit your whole PR checklist and see which areas are in great shape (you’re a networking machine!) and others that need some attention (what award season?). For now, put on some good jams and get updating. And then go enjoy these last summer days!
Alex Honeysett is a Brand & Marketing Strategist and the creator of The Pitch Course, an in-depth, self-paced online course that teaches entrepreneurs how to find, pitch, and land speaking gigs, guest blogs, and podcast interviews. After spending nearly a decade leading communications strategies for multimillion dollar brands and startups in NYC and London, Alex now teaches entrepreneurs how to message and promote their own businesses, human-to-human. Alex's articles have been featured in the Daily Muse, Forbes, Inc., Mashable, DailyWorth, TIME, and Newsweek.More from this Author