Marijane Funess September 5, 2017 | 02:51:32

6 Smart Tips For Q4 PR Planning

Yes, we know it’s actually still summer, but in public relations, getting a jump on the fourth quarter is suddenly top-of-mind. Every year we look for smart new ways to streamline systems or simply do PR better. What follows is a compilation of proven tips to try as you ease into autumn.

Transition to the busy fall PR season

Typically fall is an extremely busy season for PR teams – packed with holidays and other occasions just begging for story ideas and campaign events. But before you panic, take a deep breath and a good look at the following ways to rock your PR output as the leaves turn and the temperatures drop.

Take stock of current agency work
If the end of the summer saw a slowdown, you’ll want to be back with a vengeance. Now is the time to revisit original objectives and make sure communications teams are on target. For example, take a look back at the last quarter and evaluate the effort against metrics and results for the last new product launch or funding announcement.  Work with your agency to make sure both teams are on track as well to re-invigorate for the upcoming race to the end of the year. If you’re considering changing or adding a new firm, have you issued any RFPs that are unresolved? No one wants to be that company who  “ghosts” PR firms after receiving a proposal – a topic tackled here recently.

Audit your internal staffing needs
Now is the time to look at who is working on what and determine if you have the best fit for each company marketing and PR initiative. If you haven’t already conducted a recent review or more casual check-in with your team members, start there and get a good assessment of what’s working well and what’s not. Look for signs staffers are burned out or looking for change and see if you can make some substantive alterations. Now is also the time to look at staff planning and start to forecast your 2018 goals and needs (see below.) Take some practical steps like making sure your company LinkedIn profile is up to snuff and well-written job descriptions and ads are at your fingertips.

Reconsider the weekly agency status meeting
Many companies and PR firms have done away with formal weekly meetings in favor of bi-weekly meetings or smart use of inter-office comms tools like Slack or HipChat to keep internal and external teams apprised of ongoing projects, new business opps and other workflow topics. You may also want to reconsider the weekly meeting when you read this Harvard Business School take on what meetings actually cost. We advise a short meeting with a “real-time” editable agenda ala Google Docs or other format to make sure all parties are in the know and on top of deadlines and deliverables.

Take stock of your tech
Obviously, you’re not going to replace desktops and the like every year, but it does pay to take stock and replace devices or software that may be outmoded or hampering productivity.  It’s also a good time to see about investing in upgraded graphics or video editing software, if that is where your work is taking you. Maybe standing desks? Or no desks at all! Fall offers a good opportunity to freshen the workspace and eliminate clutter, or other things… like your landlines? Many predict the land-based phone will follow the Rolodex and other office relics as in this clever video showing the evolution of the modern office.

Plan some fun stuff
Fall is full of reasons to celebrate – Halloween, football season and the return of  Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” for starters. It’s also a time to bond with co-workers and agency personnel and do some OOO activities that will strengthen relationships and help teams work better together. In addition to simple things like dressing up for Halloween (we are into that, as you can see here) try some truly creative ideas catering specifically to your crew. We suggest an epic lip-sync battle a la Jimmy Fallon, or if your group is on the shy side, volunteering for a charity of your choice (consider an activity to benefit Harvey survivors, for instance.) Whether it’s a trivia competition , cooking class or wine tasting, just be sure to get all team members involved and enjoy the benefits that accrue from participating together.

Look toward 2018
Ask some important questions. What new products or innovations does your company have in the works? Which work is contracted into the next year? Are your 2018 agency contracts current? What are the economic trends, and how will they play into your forecasting and planning? What other factors may impact the brand’s goals in the next four months? Ask and answer these questions thoughtfully – but don’t take too long. The calendar may say September, but PR strategists know to be thinking about – and planning for – the future at all times.

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