Minor Corrections and New Directions: 10 Resolutions for the New Year

January 2, 2014

At the end of the movie “Dodgeball,” Vince Vaughn’s character starts an ad for his gym with “Hi. I’m Peter La Fleur, Owner and Operator of Average Joe’s Gym. And I’m here to tell you, you’re perfect just the way you are. But if you feel like losing a few pounds, getting healthier, and making some good friends in the process…then Joe’s is the place for you.”

That’s the way I approach New Year’s resolutions — although I would never refer to myself as “perfect.” Most people are just fine, and their resolutions are minor corrections or moves in new directions that may interest, or scare, them.

As we start 2014 — or 4712 (the Horse) for the Chinese, 5775 in Judaism, and apparently nothing for the Mayans — it’s a good time to make minor tweaks in our personal and work habits. So, here are my suggestions for potential resolutions for the coming PR year:

1. Make three new media contacts.

It is easy, especially for successful PR professionals, to become complacent. You have your regular contacts — you know them and they know you — and you have a level of trust that has taken years to achieve. This is the basis of your career. Now, it’s time to expand.

Reach out to contacts who you think may have little to no interest in your story, and work to find something that you can pitch to them. Of course, do your research first, know what they cover and don’t waste their time. The worst thing this will do is give you a new perspective on your story, and it could lead to great new placement opportunities.

2. Clean out your inbox.

I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t need to do this. Besides making your primary source of contact easier to navigate, going through those old emails will most likely trigger an idea for a new project, or remind you of something that you swore you were going to do but haven’t yet.

3. Reconnect with an old colleague.

While Facebook is a great resource for finding ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, LinkedIn is great for finding former co-workers and contacts.

Reach out to someone who you used to work with and find out what’s new. This could lead to a new opportunity, a new placement or campaign, or a discussion that leads you to new methods and productivity. Worst case scenario, you’ll have a nice lunch or coffee.

4. Go to the gym.

You already have this on your personal resolutions list, so why not also add it on to your professional one? Working out has been shown to help people think more clearly, and some of your best ideas will come while exercising or just after leaving the gym.

5. Seek training.

Everyone can improve at some aspect of his or her job. Find something that you are good at and become great at it. Obviously, I lean toward communications training — when is the last time you practiced your presentation skills? — but you can also work on your writing, social media techniques or software proficiency.

6. Go on a vacation.

You need this. Don’t forget to do it. Try revisiting the tips that Lisa Aldisert and I outlined in the July 2013 issue of PR Tactics on how to have your best, and most productive, break. A good vacation makes you a better person and employee. Get away to get better.

7. Join the conversation.

Share your expertise. Start a conversation in one of the PR LinkedIn groups. Comment on an article on prsa.org or your local Chapter’s website. Find an opportunity to write your own opinion piece. Blog and tweet your thoughts. It’s easy to get caught up in only promoting and supporting your clients — internal or external — but don’t forget to toot your own horn.

8. Win an award.

As co-chairman of PRSA-NY’s Big Apple Awards, I’ve seen the best PR campaigns in the country receive honors for their creativity, execution and components. I have also met with many PR professionals who create equally strong work and don’t think to submit their campaigns.

The Silver Anvils, the PR News Awards, the Big Apple Awards and many others, offer an opportunity to gain some well-deserved recognition, and learn about the best practices in the profession. With so many awards, and so many categories for each, there is something you have done that can be submitted somewhere. There isn’t a guarantee that you’ll win, but entering will allow you to review your achievements in 2013, focus on your strongest work and inspire you in the coming year.

9. Check out PRSA’s offerings.

Since you’re reading this, you’re already familiar with at least one of PRSA’s benefits: PR Tactics. But don’t forget what else the National and local Chapters have to offer. Webinars, social gatherings, programs and online learning are great tools for your career — and potentially your personal life — and are all available from PRSA.

10. Fire a client.

Everyone has one client who drives him or her crazy — the one who is not worth the time and money that you are spending to service them. Decide to make the break. It may temporarily hurt your bottom line but, in the long term, this will only help your business. Use the time you gain to find the perfect replacement client. You can cite your experience with the toxic one when pitching someone in a similar field.

Like all resolutions, maybe 1 percent of those who make them will follow through. But that’s not the point. The point is to make the attempt to work toward these goals and to better yourself in small, manageable ways.


Ken Scudder

Ken Scudder has provided media training, presentation training, crisis communications training and consulting, as well as writing and editing, to business leaders, celebrities and politicians for more than 20 years. Contact him at mail@kenscudder.com, kenscudder.com, or follow @kenscudder on Twitter.


Marlene S. says:

Great advice. Practical, down-to-earth suggestions that should be of help to anyone in the field. Nice sense of humor .

Jan. 6, 2014

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