New Year on the Horizon: 2014 Planning through 2013 Assessment

If they haven’t already, PR professionals should start planning 2014 strategies to help clients achieve desired results; at PReturn we’re doing the same. While we’re all looking ahead to the New Year it would be easy to pat ourselves on the back for a successful 2013 and take a “more of the same” approach moving forward. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; right? Wrong. 2014 planning is the perfect time to complete a 2013 self-assessment to determine what was done well, what could be improved upon, and to think strategically about how to incorporate this feedback into meeting client goals in the New Year. But what does a quality self-assessment look like, and what questions does it answer?

Elements of a self-assessment

That depends largely on the client goals for the past year. For instance, if a primary goal was to improve interview skills, the assessment should focus on reviewing feedback given to clients following media interviews to see if there was a noticeable uptick in comfort level and use of techniques such as bridging to ensure consistent message delivery, etc.

For many media relations professionals though, primary client goals usually focus on the number and quality of media placements throughout the year. Did they appear in the publications they identified as top priorities? How often, and in what context? But for any self-assessment centered on media coverage it’s important not only to count the placements, but to examine what data/pitches/approaches were most effective at garnering the coverage. Without this analysis, how can we hope to improve in the following year? With that in mind, here are a few questions every media relations campaign assessment should include:

  • Did the client appear in each publication identified as a top priority?
    • How often?
    • Which reporter(s) covered their news and why?              
  • If not, which ones were missed and why?
    • Does the publication not cover the client’s area of expertise?
    • Did a reporter provide feedback that the pitch/data was off topic?
    • Did a reporter who covered the client previously leave the publication?
    • What else have we learned about shortcomings from the last year?
  • Which data/report/white paper/resource garnered the most media coverage and why?
    • Was it unique or extremely compelling data?
    • Was it because of a good relationship with the reporter covering the news?
    • Was it a particularly strong pitch?
    • Was it timed perfectly to coincide with a reporter’s story (trending topic or pure chance)?

Think of these questions as an outline, not an exact formula; feel free to adjust them to suit your needs. The spirit of any audit should focus on identifying gaps between potential and actual coverage so the team can develop strategies to narrow or close these gaps in the New Year. The most important part is to answer honestly and thoroughly to garner valuable insight and help in the planning for 2014.

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