7 #PR Lessons in 2015

pablo (5)Can you believe it’s December and 2015 is coming to a close? Rather than share my New Year’s resolutions or point out the latest trends in PR for 2016, I’ve decided to share my thoughts about some important lessons this past year.  After all, if you can capitalize on what you have learned, then you will move forward and have a much better New Year! Here are the 7 lessons:

1. Career Development: You are never too old to change, grow and reinvent yourself in your career.  Reinventing yourself is one of the best ways to expand your opportunities and create new momentum. Just like music artists who master the art of reinvention, public relations and marketing professionals must do the same. You cannot be complacent. You have to shift, recreate, appeal and constantly capture attention around what you do. Staying relevant and up-to-date with the latest technology, trends and techniques will set you on the right path. The familiar saying, “we’re the cobbler’s kids without shoes,” can no longer be the case. This attitude hinders your progress and growth. Think about what has stopped you from making the smallest change to your next big, bold move, and make 2016 your year of reinvention.

2. Creative PR: According to the #PRStudChat Twitter community, creativity can’t be taught but it can certainly be inspired. Regardless, creativity is a big part of PR today. I participated in the FIR podcast with host Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson and Eric Schwartzman this past week. You can listen to the full discussion on PR trends here. On the show, we discussed a Creativity in PR study by The Holmes Report and Now Go Create. According to the study, 73% of the in-house survey respondents said they would go to PR agencies for creative ideas. At the same time, the agency participants rated the quality of their creativity as 60% worse than the creative from advertising agencies.

I’ve learned that you have to make changes in your thought process and within your organization to make creativity a part of your workflow, moving storytelling to new visual and interactive levels. Using data can certainly help to better understand your audiences and to become more intimate with your customers. Data insights will allow you to create the big ideas and to excite people with innovative and fresh thinking. You’re also able to leverage media and influencers more when you put your best creative foot forward. These influential parties will help to amplify messages and increase exposure of your campaigns. Lastly you also have the tools and the knowledge to be much more hands on in the creative process, from idea generation to actual design work (if you desire), as a result of technological advancements.

3. Relationships: Here’s is a brief but important lesson. Not every relationship will be everlasting. Of course, it would be ideal to build each relationship for the long term. In reality, there is a reason why certain colleagues and / or clients cross your pass or come into your world temporarily. At the time, they serve a very important purpose, and their presence helps you to grow or to accomplish a particular goal.

However, you have to know when it’s time to say “goodbye” to relationships not meant to last. Here’s an example … as a consultant, my job is to create the strategy, solve the challenges and help companies with their planning, infrastructure and training. In many cases, once they have what they need in place, then the best thing that can happen is they use the information and my involvement decreases. It’s actually a good feeling for me when a client can move forward and implement what’s been put into place, without my constant involvement.

Yes, just like with your children, the baby birds need to leave the nest someday. Maybe there are relationships that have popped up in 2015 that are serving an important purpose, but, at the same time, are there those relationships that you need to let go, for all parties to move onward. It doesn’t mean that you will not still be “friends” just not on the same intense level as when you started out.

4. Brand Champions: There are people that you don’t even know who will become your greatest brand champions. In 2015, I’ve met amazing professionals who have surfaced in my career and life. These are the people who I’ve never met before in person, yet have appeared through my social media communities. They are incredibly supportive of my work and I can’t thank them enough for their interest and encouragement.

For your brand champions, are you expressing gratitude? Are you taking the time to help them too? It’s an important part of building relationships that should not be taken for granted. When people are drawn to you, want to work with you and share on your behalf, then you should be mindful and an active participant, taking the time to reciprocate and give back. Even the smallest gesture is appreciated. Ultimately, the rule is never to expect anything, but when you do reciprocate it goes a long way!

5. Mentoring: Never give up on your dreams. There will always be skeptics who will say that what you’re doing is impossible or will take too much time. Perhaps, they will even tell you it’s not right for you. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the skeptics. In 2015, I discovered several new and exciting experiences, including the launch of my podcast show, Women Worldwide. I realized quickly that if you’re willing to put in the time, effort and you have the passion, then your dreams are yours, and no one can deter you. You can make your dreams come true. I accomplished my 2015 show goals. Besides the higher than expected downloads, the main goal was to give amazing women a voice and platform to share stories and impart advice. After, interviewing about 50 women, I’m well on my way. I look forward to a New Year of podcasting ahead.

6. PR / Life Stress: If you don’t have your health, then you won’t have a fulfilling career. For my family, 2015 was a year of “ups” and “downs” with family health related issues. What I’ve learned is that work alone can be stressful. But, when there is illness in the family, then this can magnify stress levels and make you feel even worse. Learning to de-stress with mindfulness and maintaining a positive mindset has become a big part of my life. Work will always be there. So, the goal is to move toward a healthy environment and focusing on your own well being for a couple of very important reasons. The first reason has to do with helping others. If you’re not 100% well, you are cannot be a good support system. Second, having your health and being positive is the best approach to fulfilling your own role to the greatest extent.

7. Working with the Media: When you’re in PR you’re in the media business and vice versa. PR and media are intertwined. Over the years, I’ve become “the media” with my blog and now my podcast. If you’re in communications, then advancements in technology and new channels proliferating daily will teach you that every individual and every company is a media company. You’re all about media as you create and share. Of course, as media entities, some people will have more influence than others. But as you experience media in different ways you will come to appreciate others for their work.

Here’s a personal example. I’m working with many PR professionals and agencies that pitch their clients as guests on my blog or on my podcast show. The tables have turned and even though I’m a PR professional, I’m now working with many PR pros, as a media professional. Sure, there may have been one or two times where I wished that I could have just jumped on the phone with a CEO for a pre-interview call (alone) for Women Worldwide. But, that’s not something that I would allow as a PR counselor myself. I’ve come to appreciate PR people even more, as I work with professionals in a different capacity. I also realize what my journalist friends have experienced over the years. It’s great to get perspective from both of these angles.

Now think about this past year? What has made it special for you and what made you feel like it was time for a change? Identify your greatest lessons and springboard to learning more. If you pinpoint your lessons and work to fix anything that needs attention, then you will move forward into a great New Year.

I want to thank all of my colleagues, friends and family for helping me to excel in my career and for providing the support to uncover the many lessons to smarter PR and a better quality of life!