With 2013 just days away, many of us are thinking about how we can improve in the year to come. If you're short of ideas, why not give one of these a go?
1. Go for more coffee
You can do a lot online and from the office, but it never beats face to face relationship-building. Why not commit to taking a journalist or peer out for coffee once every two weeks in 2013? It'll expand your network—plus, you might even enjoy it.
2. Make a blacklist for jargon
Put “next-generation,” “revolutionary,” and “stunning” on it, plus some of your own commonly used adjectives that tend to work their way into communications when you're in a rush. Stick it to the wall and make sure you check every press release you send in 2013 against it. You, and every journalist you pitch, will be glad you did.
3. Burst your bubble
Due to time pressures and fears of competition, public relations practitioners often operate in a vacuum. Break the cycle! Organize an event or regular meet-up with fellow local communications professionals so you can meet each other and begin to share your experience.
4. Learn search engine optimization (SEO)
Love it or hate it, clients are increasingly demanding that their public relations services are mindful of their search engine exposure. If SEO is a field you’ve ignored, it's worth learning a little, even if it's just so to guide them away from perilous paths.
5. Sort out your monitoring
Monitoring gets out of date, fast. Start the new year by setting up your Google Alerts, RSS feeds, Google Reader searches, Twitter searches, and any other tools you use so that you're poised to jump into the conversation whenever it’s required. Remember to include all of your clients, their competitors, your competitors, and anyone else you need to track. Make a day of it, and you'll find that maintaining everything through the rest of the year is far easier.
6. Read more
Not just newspapers—you probably read these every day. Read novels, fairy tales, industry publications, random blogs. You need to stay creative by absorbing as much as possible; it'll help your brain form new connections and spark new ideas for your work when you need them most.
7. Prepare for the worst
That thing you've been secretly dreading could happen to your company or client. And it might happen in 2013. Put down some thoughts and strategies in case crisis strikes, and get them signed off by the client (if you think it's necessary). Then put them in a drawer and enjoy the year, safe in the knowledge that you've got a plan.
8. Contribute in the way you know best
I know, you contribute to the office, to your family and friends, to your clubs and everyone else, but find a way to exercise your professional skills for a good cause. Whether it's offering to publicize a local event, lending your writing expertise to a charity, designing flyers for the school, or something else, take some time to find something you care about and treat it like a client. It'll make other people notice you, provide valuable practice outside your comfort zones, and make you feel great. Trust me.
Nicholas Holmes is the cofounder of data-driven public relations startup MediaGraph. He blogs at Shooting for the Front Page, where this post originally appeared.