Public relations is an ongoing challenge, but most independents won’t get far without setting attainable goals. We’ll walk you through some goals you can set so that you’re center stage in the new year.
January brings more than a new calendar year for independent professionals. For many independent businesses, increased sales during the holidays mean increased exposure in the public eye. From Etsy shops and makeup artists to fashion designers and wedding planners, it’s a good time for independents to set PR goals that generate new leads.
As a result, many business owners dive headfirst into sales and marketing after the ball drops to maximize the most lucrative season for a multi-billion dollar industry.
So if you’re waiting until Q1 to set business goals, you’re already a step behind those who got an early start at forecasting and planning for the year ahead. Fortunately, there’s still time to prepare for a successful 2023!
And if you’re hoping to see your business’s name in lights, setting goals to boost publicity and increase brand awareness will help you stand out in a noisy crowd.
Goals are more than just dreams—they’re catalysts of change. The simple act of writing down goals makes it 42% more likely you’ll achieve them. So whether you believe the hype or not, it’s worth setting aside time to look ahead and visualize what the future holds for you and your business.
Give it a shot with these six best practices for setting PR goals in 2023.
- Educate yourself on trends
- Check your numbers
- Start small and grow
- Revisit and update your media list
- Connect with your team
- Streamline your publicity efforts
1. Educate yourself on up-and-coming trends
Every year offers new design trends, with the latest styles saturating Pinterest feeds and Instagram hashtags for people to save to their digital vision boards. And, if you’re looking to get in front of your ideal clients, there’s no better way to contribute to the industry’s discussion of current design trends than social media.
In addition to general industry shifts, consider trends specific to your specialty and niche. For instance, if you’re an elopement photographer, dig into the top photo and elopement trends to stay up-to-date in your market. Likewise, an interior designer can speak to the colors and textures taking over the home décor scene.
Offering your insight to the media demonstrates expertise and authority, positioning your brand as a thought leader for those on the hunt for modern, on-trend offerings.
Pro Tip: The styles you see on Pinterest are trendy, but they’re already done. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, look to B2B industry resources for inspiration rather than consumer-driven platforms. Buyers look at “what’s new,” while experts look at “what’s next.”
2. Check in with your numbers
Wise business owners don’t make decisions on a whim. Instead, they rely on data to back up their hunches before investing significant time and energy into an endeavor. There’s a wealth of information to learn from reviewing your wins and losses each year, so turn the scope on your publicity efforts before setting goals for 2023.
Consider the PR efforts you took this year and whether or not they were successful. Get into the granular details here:
- Where did you submit the most content?
- What podcasts did you pitch?
- What was your booking rate as a speaker?
What’s up with your web traffic
While running the numbers, review your website analytics to determine how visitors find your site. Look for referral sources that send the most traffic and how they match your publicity approach.
- Did a specific press feature earn a lot of interest?
- Are there topics or aesthetics that produce more conversions?
- Was a conference or tradeshow particularly successful?
Get to the bottom of your data to know where to go next. If you have trouble aggregating data for your publicity efforts, prioritize creating a reliable PR tracking system before working on your goals. Next year, you’ll have more insights to optimize your approach for the following year.
3. Start with small PR goals—and grow from there
When everyone is talking about goal-setting and the many possibilities that lie ahead, it’s easy to get caught up in ambition overload. Consider this a friendly reminder to remain realistic! You may feel inspired to pursue 10, 20, or 100 ideas, but taking on more than you can handle is a quick way to burn out and fall behind on all your goals.
Instead, focus on 3–5 meaningful goals that will move the needle forward. If a website refresh isn’t going to drive more sales, put a pin in it! Set goals around actions that produce more revenue, save time, and cut down on expenses. The rest can wait!
It also helps to set goals bound by different time ranges. A good mix of monthly, quarterly and annual goals ensures you stay on track while keeping your motivation up. If you only set long-term goals, it can feel unrewarding when you haven’t checked off any major milestones for a while. On the other hand, too many short-term goals can signify the lack of a big-picture strategy.
4. Revisit and update your media list
Pull out your media list and examine it with your target audience in mind. If you’ve entered a new market or added qualifying factors to your ideal client, expect your media list to change accordingly. For example, if you moved to a new area or want to promote destination offerings, you may shift your focus from national media to local publications.
Media planning is as much an exercise in understanding your ideal client as it is about researching editorial contacts and brainstorming ideas. While you may have a few pie-in-the-sky press goals, it’s important to recognize the value of showing up where your audience spends time rather than filling your website with big-name media brands.
Sure, it might be a feather in your cap to win a Vogue feature — but if your clients don’t read Vogue, it’s more of a bragging point than a marketing tool. And when it comes to PR goals, your time invested should produce greater ROI than a shiny “as seen on” badge.
If you didn’t have an existing media list, make that your first goal! Start building your PR plan and pinpointing the publications where you can reach your ideal clients most effectively.
5. Connect with your team
Goals serve to guide a business’s direction, influencing the decisions and actions of everyone on your team. Unless you’re an independent with no team members, you should not consider goal-setting a solitary exercise. Whether you have employees, contractors, or a mix, keep everyone in the loop so they understand how their role fits into your plan.
For example, if you intend to break out as a speaker in 2023, you might sit down with a virtual assistant or marketing specialist to walk through your plan and set expectations for their participation. If they need to research opportunities, develop speaking topics or create submissions, teach them how to succeed at their job.
Turning goal-setting into a team discussion can also open your eyes to other ways to achieve success. Help your team set individual goals that align with company goals. Employees feel more engaged when they see how their input supports a business’s growth! Your team is familiar with your brand, your clients, and your offerings, so it helps to have an outside perspective from people who know your worth.
Pro Tip: A great way to learn what to delegate is by using a time tracker to determine how much time you spend on any given task. HoneyBook offers a time tracker that will help you and your team manage time spent on initiatives. Identify the PR tactics that take the most time but don’t need your immediate attention — tasks like filling out speaker submissions and researching editorial contacts are all excellent candidates for outsourcing!
6. Focus on streamlining your publicity
Let’s be real: Meeting your PR goals takes time that you’d rather dedicate to impressing your clients and earning those five-star reviews. Building a winning brand reputation doesn’t happen overnight, but there are plenty of ways to optimize your publicity efforts so it doesn’t feel like an extra chore on top of an already-busy schedule.
Start by looking for ways to leverage systems you already have in place. For example, if you use HoneyBook to manage your business and clientflow, you might take advantage of the new smart file feature to build a custom media kit to share with editors.
Other great digital tools like AirTable, Boomerang, and Talkwalker Alerts can help you automate PR activities and cut your time investment in half.
Beyond tech and automated solutions, consider how you can outsource elements of your PR approach. Can your VA follow up with media contacts? Will your social media manager take over press promotion? Remember: You don’t have to do it all!
You are more likely to accomplish goals that excite you, so start 2023 with a fresh batch of goals that fill you up and motivate you to take action. While obstacles are inevitable, progress matters most—so keep an open mind and don’t feel discouraged if your plans change throughout the year.