Congratulations, you’re at the start of a brand-new year! Before you zero in on all the work ahead, let’s do a quick review of last year’s efforts. Figuring out what worked and what did not in the previous year will help you effectively update your marketing and PR for the New Year.
Re-evaluate target media and your level of preparation
Last year, did you find yourself scrambling frantically to respond to a surprise request for visuals or information? Or did you realize that your campaign wasn’t working in the way that you’d hoped? Maybe you realized that you’d overlooked a potential market for your product/service!
If something took you by surprise last year, re-evaluate your research and planning procedures to ensure you’re better prepared this time. Ask yourself these questions:
- Were there any errors in your understanding of stakeholder groups?
- Did you overlook any influencer groups or potential prospects when identifying your communication targets?
- Does your message need to be revised to be effective right now?
- If a reporter or blogger made a request related to a campaign or pitch, were you able to fulfill that request in a timely manner?
Inspect your marketing & PR materials
Mickie Kennedy of eReleases recommends re-reading press releases from the past year to identify your best and worst efforts. I recommend including samples of other marketing & PR content in your review. For example, look at written materials like white papers, ebooks, blog posts, pitches, speeches, etc.
First, see whether there are typos or inaccuracies. If you do find mistakes, figure out how you’ll avoid them in the future. Do you need a style guide or fact-checking procedure? Also, paste some of your shorter pieces or samples from long-form content into the Hemingway App to get an objective idea of how clearly and concisely you’ve been writing.
If the software that you’re using has readability measurements, then you can use those instead to see how reader-friendly your content is.
Examine generated stories and audience actions
In addition, review the reactions that your marketing & PR pieces generated. (Ideally, you should decide on what actions you wanted your audience to take when creating your content pieces). For example, you can use a tool like Google Analytics to see which of your blog posts generated the most traffic. You can also use it to see which website content and keywords that contributed to sales and what did not (even if they were popular).
To track stories generated by press releases and pitches, you’re probably using a media monitoring service such as Burrelles or Meltwater (or a no-cost option like Google Alerts). Pull out your print and online clips to determine some or all of the following:
- Which performed better — your one-page releases or your multiple-page ones?
- Did pieces with bulleted lists gain more coverage?
- Did announcements of new content (e.g., white papers, guides, webinars) do better than those for product updates or product releases?
- Were media outlets in any particular geographical areas more receptive?
- What pitches or other efforts failed?
- Is there any pattern/common elements to the failed pitches or to the non-responsive outlets?
- Did you get more publicity locally or nationally?
Review lead generation results
For content aimed directly at prospects or customers, determine the following:
- Whether you used all relevant channels of communication, e.g., social media, email, or e-newsletters
- Number of leads generated
- Lead quality (whether most of those leads are like your preferred customers/clients)
- How many leads converted to customers/clients
- The length of time between a lead being identified and closing the sale
Update your marketing & PR content and tools
Review your press release boilerplate (the “About” section describing your business at the end of the release) to see if it needs to be updated. See if your brochures, website, LinkedIn company page, and other promotional materials contain up-to-date information. Also, pay attention to the materials’ design; are they presenting your brand in a consistent manner?
Let’s not forget your overall website. Navigate through it to see if it has any broken links or out-of-date information. Also, check whether you added new content on a regular basis last year. It doesn’t have to be something you do daily, but Google pays more attention to sites with regularly updated content.
How often you add new content will depend on your business. An appropriate schedule can range from multiple times a week to every six weeks. But if you’re doing content marketing, and you haven’t added anything for months on end, you have some rethinking to do. Consider developing an editorial calendar for your blog posts, social media content, etc.
Since the media landscape is always changing, check to see if there are new outlets, mergers, closings, layoffs, or contact information changes that may have escaped your attention. You can use media directories, databases, or services for this. You can also review the media outlets and blogs on your specific list by checking the staff directories on their website or call if you’re unsure about a possible change.
This is not a comprehensive overview of all the tasks you need to do to prepare for the year ahead. But when you know how you did, you can more effectively assess your next efforts. You can also better figure out if and how you need to up your game. So, add these items to your own marketing & PR task list now and look forward to a kick-butt year.
Kelle Campbell is a content writer for e-learning and B2B software companies. Contact her fto discuss your next project.