With the 2015 ACE Awards around the corner, many people are looking back on the past year and evaluating their work. A campaign’s success is measured by its objectives, a client’s overall satisfaction with the execution and how it affects the bottom line. The time that public relations practitioners dedicate to their work and the effort they put in off the clock can be lengthy and demanding. However, the recognition from our peers for creating a program that is truly in line with public sentiment justifies all of that stress and sweat. Awards programs like CPRS Toronto’s ACE Awards complement client satisfaction with acknowledgement from our peers for all of the behind-the-scenes work which doesn’t show on the bottom line.
In many ways, it is imperative to have award programs that recognize excellence in the practice of public relations as a profession.
Advancing the practice of public relations Professional associations all over the world reward their members and colleagues for their contributions to their field. Why not public relations as well? Public relations professionals who do the same show the public that PR efforts are something to be recognized and awarded. If we as PR practitioners do not show appreciation for our fellow communicators’ work it threatens to stunt the growth and innovation that recognition encourages. An awards program encourages clients’ trust in us as practitioners and underlines our necessity in a marketplace that is crowded with multidisciplinary approaches to marketing communications.
Measurement and the bottom line Running parallel to the qualitative evaluation of tactical and strategic knowledge, CPRS Toronto’s ACE Awards place equal value on the quantitative measurement of a campaign. Measurable goals show how well a campaign tracks back to the bottom line. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals should be incorporated into all campaigns. Without measurement, public relations practitioners cannot show the correlation between their work and bottom line success. To identify PR as a vital component to an organization’s business plan, sometimes you have to get down to the numbers.
Encouraging the next generation Awareness of the public relations industry has spread and some post-graduate programs receive applications in the thousands. When students have proved that they have the foundation of budding professionalism, they need to be encouraged. Recognition from the professionals that they aspire to be is the motivation that many students need. Acknowledging budding talent justifies the unpaid volunteer work and long class hours that dedicated students commit to in an effort to separate themselves from the pack. An early introduction to the importance of evaluating one’s work is important to foster the growth of the next generation of young professionals.
Look back on 2014 and ask yourself what work you are most proud of. Can your work teach someone a new skill or would you like to improve your public relations tool kit? The CPRS Toronto ACE Awards are a vehicle for professional advancement to make you a better practitioner and a more well-rounded professional.
Before we get too deep into 2013, here’s an all-important top 5 to-do list that will invigorate your plans for the year ahead.
Review your metrics: Accurate research is everything. Review your key performance indicators annually, and confirm that your research and reporting are in line with the organization’s stated goals. If your reports aren’t illuminating useful trends, make adjustments that fit your strategy. Also, examine the forms and data-collection criteria you use to ensure you aren’t missing a chance for gathering new information from clients. Consider creating visually driven reports that will engage your team in meetings and give senior management at-a-glance analytics.
Refresh your homepage and blog: This no-brainer easily falls off everyone’s list. It’s great if your site has been recently re-designed, but you have to keep it fresh for visitors. Stale homepages discourage regular traffic from exploring your content on a deeper level. Fresh visuals, automated slideshow functionality and “related content” widgets are among the ways you can engage people in your organization’s latest news. If you can meet the demands of delivering content on a regular basis, a weekly blog is a great hook for pulling in traffic.
Think mobile, act local: Pay attention to your mobile stats. Remember the 2010 Morgan Stanley report that predicted mobile’s dominance over the desktop by 2015? Well, we’re getting close, and you need to be sure that your content and its delivery are optimized for this exploding audience. If your mobile stats are low, find out why you are lagging and fix it. Maybe it’s time for an app, which provides instant access to your message and is the go-to solution for reaching audiences on the move.
Embrace marketing’s convergence with social: Communications today depends on social media. As social matures, we’re seeing that it’s more than a Web 2.0 technological novelty. We all still need media releases, press conferences and media contacts, but it’s also time to build serious strategy around social tools. Social is more than a delivery system — it’s a marketing platform with unlimited potential for engaging audiences. Take the time to develop creative solutions for sharing your PR message and implementing your marketing plan. Set aside budget to hire dedicated social personnel for your team. Use social media to build value with your audience.
Understand new technologies: Four years ago, we were all scratching our heads about Facebook’s value to business. Now there’s LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and more. Many of them are indispensible PR tools. You may not find a need for every social platform today, but it is absolutely necessary that you know how the channels work. Marketing strategies morph with time, and you never know what social tool will be useful to your campaign in the future.