Marketers and communications professionals start every year with visions of a fresh start for their brand strategy. No more wasted years of initiatives that never got off the launchpad; 2020 is going to be different. Organized. Efficient! Upon your return to work, you sit down at your desk, ambitious and caffeinated, and make your list for how to tackle the day.
By 10:05am you have 75 emails in your inbox, 18 documents to proof/review, nine schedule requests for conference calls, four impossible deadlines from sales and executive leadership, one potential PR crisis … and it’s just like old times (one week ago) again. You’re back on the merry go round, and those other initiatives you thought were important have been cast aside for 2021 and beyond.
Marketing and communications programs often fall through the cracks, and ideas from December are cast aside by February when new corporate directives are pursued. But it doesn’t have to be that way – below are four initiatives you should plan for, stick to, and reap the benefits of in 2020.
Incorporate or utilize a sustainability or CSR (Corporate social responsibility) program. You know what teaches lessons, improves culture, makes the world a better place, AND drops positive, compelling marketing content right in your lap? Launching a sustainability or CSR effort. I hear what you’re saying – “Doesn’t this sort of thing need to come from the c-suite?” – and the answer is no. Be the marketer who drives something that changes your organization. Start with a philanthropic topic close to you, such as homelessness, environmental or medical/health-related causes. Write a blog post, link to that charity, and start raising money. Market it internally and externally. Trust me – the world around you (and your Company) will notice, including the media. Philanthropic and sustainability PR is not a bad thing! Stop procrastinating on self-published content (blog posts, videos, photos, op-eds/bylines, whitepapers). Yes, self-publishing and authoring content has been on every best practice list since 2010. Strong content has incredible short- and long-term benefits (lead generation, investor awareness, SEO/ORM, recruiting) that I don’t need to list in detail for you. I do need to remind you not to put too much pressure on yourself though because the game has evolved. Blogs are expected to be much, much shorter now. Try targeting 300 words about a news event. iPhones have better cameras than what existed in handhelds 20 years ago! PowerPoint presentations can be easily PDF’d and made accessible. Authored content comes in many forms … be creative and don’t let it overwhelm you. Create a narrative and make yourself heard. You are passionate about legislature impacting your and others’ business – but do your partners know? You just launched a new product – does your sales audience know? Your company just hit a major milestone – do your employees know? “Next year” is always the year you’re going to start engaging the media or finally hire a PR firm. Whether you hire an agency or not, start emailing journalists to comment on their articles, provide insight, or when applicable – share details of what you’re working on. Set a goal of emailing five journalists per month. By 2021, you’ll have several new relationships. Encourage your colleagues and peers to do all of the above. Why doesn’t this happen more?! Your boss mandated two blogs per month and the idea of 24 posts attributed to you in one year is daunting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. People like seeing their thoughts published. Ask around, you’ll be surprised. The same goes for encouraging CSR efforts or even emailing journalists to discuss trends, the latter being something that should be done in coordination with others. This doesn’t just benefit your external brand image, it’s a culture-builder internally. You’ll be surprised how supportive, and promotional of content, your group of colleagues can be. The point? Don’t go at it alone!
These are easy, right? 2020 will be your year! These four tips are all founded upon the Three Rules of Marketing/Communications: create, create, create. Good luck!