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Better resolution results: 3 tips for PR goal-setting

The statistics are bleak: Although nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year, 25% will abandon them in just the first week of January. Accomplishing goals is hard. We won’t hold it against you if you’ve already stopped vlogging your Peloton journey for your well-meaning but absolutely evil husband. 

Even so, the practice of goal-setting is still worth the effort: A study in Harvard Business Journal noted that those who actually set goals are 10x more likely to succeed at meeting them. 

meeting PR goals
Photo Credit: Christian Gidlöf, CCSA 3.0

At Sterling, we’ve already kicked off 2020 communications planning with most of our clients, and we’re actively pursuing identified targets and KPIs. After 30 years in the business, we know a thing or two about how to set good public relations (PR) goals — and meet them

Starting a new year with a solid plan is always a great idea, but it’s the results that matter in the end. Here are a few of our tips on how to set communications goals that won’t suffer the fate of most New Year’s resolutions.

  • Do your research. This is especially important in the B2B space, where the audience is niche enough that it can be hard to predict. If your annual goal is to place ten articles in trade magazines focused on a certain industry when there are only three publications that fit the criteria, your 2020 KPIs will be difficult if not impossible to meet. On the other hand, if your goal is to increase sales leads, you should research where your target audience gets their news: You might find that landing an article in Industrial Cranes Magazine generates more leads than a front-page mention in The New York Times. Research your audience and the outlets you’re targeting before setting your goals.
  • Keep it realistic. Over-reaching can trip up any New Year’s resolution. For example, if you’ve never set foot in a gym, then setting a goal of going every day is pretty unrealistic. An honest evaluation of where you’re starting isn’t shameful or negative — it sets you up for achievable success. Coveting thy neighbor must be set aside. It’s good to research your competitors for inspiration when goal setting. But it might not be the best use of time, effort, and money to set a goal like, “Gain more Twitter followers than [competitor],” when that competitor has a 10K-follower lead to start. A more realistic goal might be, “Gain 5% more followers on Twitter by EOY.” That goal has your company at the center of it — not someone else’s. 
  • Be flexible. Sometimes, even after doing your research and being realistic, the goals you set just don’t seem to be working. Maybe there’s an unanticipated holdup or the strategy you expected to get you there isn’t really moving the needle. It’s okay to take a step back and assess what’s working, and pivot as necessary. This is where monthly reports and weekly team syncs can come in handy. They can serve as checkpoints to evaluate how you’re doing and whether it might be time for a change. Evolution is a good thing. Goals don’t have to be set in stone — in fact, they may be doing you a disservice if they are. 

It’s never a bad time to start looking ahead, mapping out a destination, and planning how you want to get there. 

Have you identified your PR goals for 2020 yet? Sterling can help! Our approach to strategic communications goal setting helps companies stay laser-focused on what matters most to them, whether that’s driving website traffic, garnering positive media coverage, gaining a social media following, or simply getting your story told to the world at large.