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New Year’s Resolutions might seem cliché, but I do think a new year brings the perfect opportunity to decide what is important and what to focus on to better yourself - and not just by heading to the gym or drinking more water. I think we focus too often on personal goals, but as anyone in public relations knows, we spend a whole lot of time working. Why not give some TLC to professional goals as well?
The following will hopefully ease you into a 2018 full of learning and self-care in your professional life without the fear of the dreaded resolution fail.
Take a class
In the constantly evolving communications landscape, where digital marketing has become more important, it’s critical to learn new skills outside of traditional media relations and publicity. Earned media is just one piece of a robust communications strategy -- and as agency PR professionals, understanding owned and paid strategies is essential to deliver well-rounded results.
Thanks to the Internet, there’s a class for just about everything to make sure you stay up-to-speed on the latest strategies and platforms in the marketing and communications world. One example is LinkedIn’s Learning channel, which has a great library of video courses covering everything from social media marketing to working with influencers.
If you don’t have a Twitter account, sign up for one now. Twitter is a great resource to connect with journalists, influencers, brands and fellow media mavens and marketing pros. It’s a fairly easy way to keep your finger on the pulse of the news and media, while offering new and old practitioners the chance to be a part of conversations happening outside of their bubbles. I’m connecting with more reporters who tell me they tweet about stories they’re writing as another means to find sources.
In a world where we’re constantly connected, joining another social media platform may sound like a chore. But if there’s one that’s most useful for your PR career, it’s Twitter. Just remember to pick an avatar -- no one trusts an egghead.
Build a career ladder
Having a mentor is one of the most valuable resources an entry or mid-level professional can count on in this hectic industry, and being a mentor can be an incredibly rewarding experience. According to a recent study on mentorship by Heidrick & Struggles, “more than three-fourths of respondents say their most impactful mentoring relationship was either ‘very important ‘or ‘extremely important’ to their career development.”
Check to see if your company offers a mentor program -- many companies do. If they don’t, work with your human resources department to get one started. You can find some tips and tricks here. If that sounds like too big an undertaking, then simply send a note to someone you admire professionally, or someone who is your #careergoals, to ask if they’d be willing to meet for coffee. It can seem intimidating, especially in the PR industry where people seem to be constantly going 100 MPH, but it’s worth the effort for the value you may find.
Get some R&R
Alongside firefighters and airline pilots, Forbes recently ranked public relations executives as one of the 10 most stressful jobs of 2017 -- and it’s not the first time PR has landed on one of these lists. My last professional resolution for PR practitioners is decidedly personal -- remember that working 24/7 isn’t always the ticket to a rewarding career; a well-balanced life can do wonders for your productivity and work quality.
Ellen Galinsky, co-founder of the Families and Work Institute, said in an article in The Cut: “Everyone needs to have more than one thing in their life. We find people who are dual-centric to be most satisfied. If people put an equivalent stress on their life outside of their job they get further ahead and are more satisfied at their job.”
In 2018, make it a priority to pick a hobby -- any hobby -- outside of work you can focus on in the long term without the pressure of a deadline or fixed outcome. Pick up a crochet hook and some thread, dive into that epic fantasy trilogy you’ve been eyeing for a while or volunteer with an organization in your neighborhood. Whatever it is, just make sure it brings you joy and offers you some quality “me” time outside of your daily duties.Sarah Morgan is a senior account executive in Allison+Partners' Washington, D.C. office.