In the final weeks of 2016, I decided to download an app that records one-second videos.
When users upload videos for several days in a row, the app strings them together into a slideshow.
On New Year’s Day, I decided I’d take one video every day during 2017, so I’d be able to thread them all together into one long video that encompasses my whole year.
I remember thinking that this goal was unlikely, since I’ve tried to do this in the past and it never went well.
I tried to take a video every day during my final semester of college, but I forget to record anything for the first few weeks and before long, it was too hard to catch up. I ended up only recording videos from the last 100 days of the semester.
Making plans for your organization’s coming year can feel really similar to my second-a-day venture.
When one year is coming to an end, it’s best practice to outline our objectives, craft campaigns and strategies, and develop measurement plans to track the success of our work.
As the year progresses and we get busy with the day-to-day responsibilities, however, it can be easy for these plans to fall to the wayside.
But, with some thoughtful changes and alterations to your routines, you can create a quality plan that you’ll stay committed to all year long.
Review this year’s work
It’s important to take sufficient time at the end of this year to review the work you’ve done and how successful it was.
Even if you weren’t measuring every aspect of your communications program, you have accumulated data that can provide useful insight as you look towards 2018.
Start by reviewing the tools you use on a regular basis to track your digital activities.
Google Analytics is a great place to start with this review process. As long as you’ve had a tracking code placed on your site throughout the year, it’s been logging data about the activity of your site’s visitors.
Alter the dates to only review information from 2017 and create reports based on this period of time to provide a baseline of the activity logged throughout the year.
During your review process of this year, make sure your tools are optimized to give you the most insight and data.
In Google Analytics, for example, set up goals to track conversions. This data cannot be backfilled, but setting them up prior to the new year will allow you to track all future conversions and follow their journey prior to the conversion, which allows you to attribute completion of actual business goals to communications work.
Draft your plan
Once you have reviewed your work from the previous year, it’s time to apply that data to your plans for the coming year.
Review the data and identify areas of success and areas you would like to see improvement. Recognizing your successes and shortcomings will allow you to craft your objectives for the coming year.
If your reports show 25 percent fewer conversions in the summer months as compared to conversions during a similar period of time, one objective could be to increase the number of conversions, specifically during the quieter summer months.
After outlining your main objectives for the year, begin to develop strategies and campaigns you will implement to achieve those goals.
To address the objective cited above, for example, an organization could create a webinar series during the summer months to increase the flow of people converted to prospects. This would require professionals to draft an outline for the content and plan promotion strategies to ensure the campaign would reach new and interested audiences.
Stick to your plan
Generating all of these new ideas and putting them on paper is great, but they don’t mean anything if they get stored in your desk, never to be seen again.
As you progress throughout the year, you and your team will of course have to alter and edit plans to fit in with the changes of day-to-day work or unexpected things that arise, but this is no reason to totally forget the plan you put so much work into devising.
In addition to producing this plan for 2018, it would be helpful to summarize some tactics that will help you stick to the plan.
Set aside some time
Days as a communicator can slip away from you as you work to complete your normal daily responsibilities, such as social posting and writing content to contribute to your blog, or dealing with a crisis or unexpected project that may arise.
Setting aside a scheduled period of time each week can allow you to check in on your plans and review how they’re progressing.
Consider it a meeting with yourself. Try doing this first thing Monday morning, to outline the items you have to achieve during the week to keep yourself on track, or on Friday afternoon, to review the progress you’ve made and make key goals for next week.
Find the right tools
There are tons of apps and tools that assist in collaboration, organization, and efficiency. Finding the ones that work best for you can help the progress of your plans.
It could be as simple as keeping a written to do list. Although much of communication work is digital, it can be more helpful to visualize the tasks you need to complete if they’re written longhand.
Other digital tools, like Asana, allow you to make lists and coordinate with your team. Creating a task within Asana lets you detail the necessary steps and assign specific actions to members of your team.
Regardless of what you use, find what works for you and allow it to keep you on track as you advance towards your goals.
Invest in education
Communications and measurement tools and practices evolve often, sometimes complicating our ability to execute plans with success and efficiency.
Thankfully there are many options for continuing education to sharpen your skills.
Rather than seeking information on a case-by-case basis to solve problems that may arise with one of your campaigns, plan on downloading an eBook or attending a webinar each month.
Whether it renews your interest in PR measurement or introduces you to a new way to streamline how you’re measuring your programs, continually working on your education is a great way to remain dedicated to the goals you’ve outlined for yourself in the new year.
Life as a communicator gets really busy really fast. With some planning, you can set goals for the next year and make sure you stay committed to achieving them.