Suddenly, it’s fall! That means the fourth quarter will be here in no time. Is your PR plan ready for the stretch run to the end of 2018? The summer always goes too fast, so it pays to jump in with both feet after Labor Day. The best PR teams take advantage of the calm before the storm to get their Q4 priorities in order.
Yes, we know the congressional midterms are looming, but there’s a different kind of “reelection” in the air when fall comes. Most companies plan budgets for the following year in Q4, which means they’re evaluating the current spend with an eye toward reallocation. So whether the PR is handled in-house or with an agency, it’s a good time to demonstrate its value. The PR team must continue to perform at a high level and generate measurable outcomes for the fourth quarter. That may mean flawless execution and robust reporting, but it can also mean it’s time to get creative with fresh thinking and add-ons for Q4 initiatives.
A PR action plan needs direction, and if there’s been a summer lull, it ends now. Early September is an excellent time for a review to date, as part of a check-in meeting with the client (whether internal or external.) The idea is to compare notes on progress-to-date, Q4 goals, and priorities. It’s time to set the fourth quarter up for success with a strategic plan, because before we know it, the holidays will be here.
The Thanksgiving to New Year’s period is make-or-break time for many brands. For some sectors, like consumer technology, Christmas actually starts in July, when media holiday gift guides are planned and retailers are finalizing plans for the giving season. September is the occasion to assess the company’s year-end needs and firm up all-important holiday plans that help make the year a business success. PR pros will be nailing down earned media priorities, creating seasonal story lines, and even end-of-year lists, recaps, and other content that can punctuate a successful PR season. For seasonal advice, check out these holiday pitching tips.
When performing that year-to-date review, PR teams can also identify new opportunities in discarded ideas or even dormant media contacts. A visibility activity that failed to gain traction might be worth retooling for another push in fall. A slight tweak or a revamping could make a big difference. Maybe there are journalists or analysts with whom you have worked in the past, but have recently fallen off your radar. These solid contacts are well worth reviving, more likely than others to welcome a good story opportunity from a trusted source. We shouldn’t close the door on ideas and contacts that have potential to yield PR wins in the future.
Are there extra monies on the spreadsheet for Q4? In most companies, managers don’t get credit for returning portions of the marketing or PR budget. Rather, they’re rewarded for blockbuster programs that help make the year. So it’s best to get creative and call on staff and partners to innovate with new initiatives that fill in the blanks among pre-planned tactics for the fourth quarter.
The end of the year means recaps and 2019 forecasts that reinforce industry expertise or simply take advantage of holiday news holes. Now’s the time to enlist your best thought leaders to ponder the future and offer insights on the trends that will carry business into the next year. See this earlier post on eight tools for thought leadership.