avatarAmi Neiberger

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Setting Media Relations Goals for the Year That Stick

If you are a list maker with ambitions like me, then you probably write down a giant list of goals for the year. Then you look at it all and as the list gets longer, you start to get anxious about how you will “really” achieve all of those great goals. Having a list full of dreams and ambitions for media relations success is great, but it’s not worth much if you don’t have an actionable plan for achieving it all.

Be realistic. It’s important to reach for big dreams, but there’s also a need to ground goals in reality. Look at the list and see what can be accomplished within a year. It’s also important to look for what might be missing or how things need to sequenced to be successful. Achieving a great interview for the new CEO is a great goal to have, but if you do not plan time for media training or interview preparation, the result could be deemed a dud in terms of value.

Break them up. Maybe you have some huge goals on your list, but so often it takes small steps over time to reach big media relations goals. “Get my nonprofit covered by the New York Times” can be an ambitious goal, but what steps are you going to take to make it happen? Identify national-level newsworthy story ideas within your organization? Research reporters at the newspaper who might cover topics your organization can talk about?

Schedule it. There are a wealth of planners — electronic and paper — that can help you schedule out and visualize your goals. Without a schedule for those goals though — they are just goals on a sheet of paper or screen.

Use visuals. If your list relies on goals that are repetitious (e.g. pitch two stories a month) — a handy way to track this goal monthly is to visually represent it. Get post-it notes and some posterboard. Write each task that needs to be done every month on a post-it note. Take the posterboard and make two columns on it. Title one column “Monthly Tasks” and the other one “Completed.” It’s a very simple visual that can hang in your office and remind you of what you need to do to reach monthly goals.

Aim for balance. So much of our work now as media relations professionals is not just about interfacing with journalists and pitching stories. We are also writing full stories that we are placing with lower tier media outlets, preparing people for interviews, fielding and making determinations about advertising or paid placement opportunities and much more. Look at how you can balance your goals and work load.

Budget it. There is a time and financial cost to every task. One way to help yourself is to try to assign time blocks to each goal. If you have on your list, write two news releases every month, determine how much time is needed for each. Editorial calendars also come into play. If one news release every month will be a quick write-up with minimal effort involving others and a streamlined approval process, then you might only need an hour or so to put it together. But if the other one might involve talking to 3 people, requires graphics be created and has a painstaking approval process, you might need 10 hours of time. Budget funds (and time) for infographics, video and other elements that might accompany media releases.

Incentivize yourself. So often when I talk with nonprofit media relations staff, they are operating in small one or two person shops with few other communications staff around. So there are not many people to celebrate even when the staff achieve something huge. The risk of burnout is real. Look for those incentives for major goals. Maybe it’s a special lunch out, or flowers on your desk or just buying those fancy pods for the office coffee machine. A little incentive part way through the year can go a long way.

Take a pulse. Put on your calendar time monthly and quarterly to check on how you are doing at reaching your goals. It is ok to make revisions if some things can’t work out or don’t happen because of new priorities. Don’t just leave the list in the drawer and say well, we had some great ideas, maybe next year.

Be persistent. Our business can be fast-paced and daily schedules can change quickly or be obliterated completely by one phone call or email. But it is the persistent work of media relations — cranking out news and information, reaching out to journalists, continuing to build our storytelling, speaking, and information-share capabilities — that delivers results year in and year out.

Ami Neiberger is accredited in public relations and has worked as an independent public relations consultant and writer since 2002. She provides communications strategy, media relations, writing and other services to assist nonprofits, trade associations, government organizations and businesses. Contact her to discuss your project. Follow her on X (formerly known as Twitter) @AmazingPRMaven.

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