As we PRs re-emerge from precarious piles of magazines that have risen like a barricade around our laptops (now consigned to the recycling bin with the most recent issue kept for future reference!) and start a fresh notebook with a hopeful, ambitious to-do list that triple underlines getting that CPD programme in the bag before the end of February, it must be almost time to leave 2019 behind.
A natural time to pause, reflect and evaluate the year gone by, the waning of another year sees us making plans to build on our achievements to date. Personally, when I stop and think about Hoot & Holler's achievements this year, there are many and I feel tremendously thankful to my wonderful clients for challenging me and appreciating what I do. But for me, it always comes back to that age-old PR conundrum of evaluation - how do we best evaluate our PR campaigns? Is it based on the reach of each press release? The delivery of key messages? Customer opinion? Or whether we have directly contributed to an increase in the bottom-line? Should we be patting ourselves on the back for the 24 press releases issued? The fact that our client was featured in 10 publications every month? The 12 reviews and competitions run in partnership with influencers, which have resulted in a significant increase in social media followers? Or the 45 blog posts we've written this year for the company's social media feeds? The fact that we've delivered a strategic PR programme that achieved the aims we set out at the beginning is always a good start of course!
But it's more than that.
Not a fan of marketing jargon, I do, however, use the term 'halo effect' when talking about the role and the value of PR in business because I think it describes the depth of a good PR campaign and what it can bring to a business or a brand in terms of its reputation and perception with stakeholders. When you decide to engage in PR and stimulate relationships with the media, offering up story ideas, you're losing complete control (unlike a paid-for advert) but almost always, you're gaining valuable influence via third party endorsement in some form. It's about shining a light on your business or brand and deepening your audience's understanding and awareness of it, piquing their interest, building trust and finally gaining advocates. Finally, do your employees feel good about the company they work for, do your customers feel good and are they telling their friends about you - this is the 'halo effect' of great PR.
All of those press releases, story ideas, blogs, reviews, competitions are of course the building the blocks of getting to this end point, which takes some time and consistency. As we all know, building relationships with longevity doesn't happen overnight. But equally, PR is also beautifully agile and adaptable and can quickly respond to the whims of the market by focusing on a specific message or a niche audience.
So, with all that in mind, here are some additional questions we might ask ourselves as we head into the New Year. Have we widened and deepened our media contacts? Told new stories so that customers can see our clients in a new light? Trialled new media channels and brought valuable new ideas to the table? Got under the skin of a brand or organisation? Offered an agile, creative consultancy to inspire our clients or help them out of a tricky situation? Perhaps most importantly, have we acted with integrity and honesty? If you can answer yes to all of this then I think we should all be clinking a glass of something fizzy with nearest and dearest, looking forward to 2020 with anticipation and always with fresh eyes!
Cheers to a Happy and Prosperous New Year!