By Tawanda Carlton, PR Account Executive

Whether you’re team #NewYearsResolution or not, the end of the year signals a period of reflection for most people – both personally and professionally. Be it sound or tough, what are some of the life lessons learned over the past year? And how will you use those lessons to beacon your decisions and successes in the new year?

Executing PR practices in the digital age presents a need for the industry to constantly change, evolve and progress in the direction of growth. Not only do industry professionals need to anticipate change, we must also look to enhance our solutions and services.

In my quest to evolve and grow within my profession, here’s what I’ve left behind in 2018 and what I’m embracing in the new year.

Being Deliberate and Realistic about Deadlines
From media pitching to content creation or rapid media response requests, quick turnaround times is typically the norm for PR professionals. What I’ve realized is that the creative process – from ideation to execution – takes time and thoughtfulness. While delaying production of any content project for weeks at a time is not ideal, the creative process shouldn’t be rushed. I’ve found that while strategic deadlines can beneficial, you don’t have to say “yes” to all of them. As an account manager, I’ve found it imperative to recognize when a proposed deadline is too unrealistic and failure to speak up can often result in the inability to produce quality work. Our team has found a way to mitigate various deadlines by keeping communication open and by utilizing task management tools like Freedcamp. The project management tool helps to keep approval processes flowing and deadlines front and center so that we can adjust along the way if needed.

Fearing Numbers
Metrics and ROI will always be PR’s Achilles heel. Communicators understand that determining the true value of a campaign or activation isn’t always black and white. Our PR team uses metrics to reflect on our wins and challenges each and every quarter. As a result, our findings often become the catalyst for planning how we will prepare for the quarter and create a roadmap to what we need to do to achieve our clients’ and agency goals. Embracing metrics helps communicators set themselves apart in a good way. Statistics are crucial to analysis, budgeting, and understanding if the projects or strategies you’ve completed have been successful or require modifications.

Playing it Safe
Hollywood heavyweight Will Smith recently went viral when he stated; “Fail early, fail often and fail forward.” In our industry, mistakes are inevitable and imperative to success. Not failing means you aren’t taking chances. The suggestion here isn’t to fail blindly but to take calculated risks that are geared towards success and tied to what you will learn in the process.

Our agency recently experienced a complete rebranding – from refreshing our brand identity to fine-tuning our key messaging. Our new mantra? #GoThere. We are looking to take our “out of the box” approach to offer next-level media and digital marketing experiences that appeal to innovative and disruptive brands. But in going there, we realize there is no reward without taking risks.

A few things that I’m taking into 2019:

A Marketers Mindset
When we onboard a new client, one top-of-mind question we ask is “can we connect with your marketing team to get an idea of what they’re working on?” As PR professionals, we understand the importance of aligning our efforts with marketing, and it’s going to become much more important looking ahead.

PR professionals must begin to collaborate even more with their marketing counterparts. As technology evolves, the lines between the two crafts will continue to blur. Our marketing and PR teams have experienced this first hand. In recent months, our team has increased our content creation (i.e. byline articles, blogs, video etc.) by seventy-five percent. This content boost has connected both departments in ways that are both granular and complex. We have begun to take a more integrated approach as we collaborate on everything from long-form content concepts, email marketing copy and captions for social media posts. While there are the occasional places where marketing and PR deviate, we’ve come to understand that true success for our team begins with a collaborative effort.

More Authentic Media Interactions and Business Relationships
In PR, one of the most important assets you will have are the relationships you build and maintain with clients, vendors, partners, and the media. As communicators, our job is to create and cultivate authentic relationships built on common interest and trust. I’ve found that the success or failure of a project, campaign, event, or an organization at large, can often be determined by the relationships that are crafted and maintained. We realized the importance of this, most recently when we produced our quarterly event, PR Reimagined. Our team relied on the relationships we’ve maintained with vendors and panelists to pull off one of most successful iterations of the event we’ve had to date.

The “new year, new you” enthusiasm, as it relates to your career goals, may last about as long as your January workout routine. However, just like fitness, the key is to approach your career objectives realistically and strive for consistency.