Lather, Rinse, Repeat: Cleaning up your Communications in the New Year.
Welcome to 2021. New Year’s resolutions are typically dedicated to the betterment of our personal lives (I refuse to participate in the ritual, I’m of the morbid sort that always has the brevity of life top of mind), but they’re equally pertinent to professional life. As the year comes to a close and annual planning takes shape, communicators have an opportunity to take stock of what worked and what didn’t. Some aspects of communications work require regular, periodic review—the start of a new year is the perfect moment to brush up on your basic tools, materials, and plan. These preparatory steps help ensure you’re prepared to tell your story and achieve your PR goals. An annual “communications hygiene check” is an important tentpole—a level-set—to ensure you’re poised for success. Good communications hygiene doesn’t mean just applying lessons learned to whatever new materials you plan to create—you need to reexamine your existing materials. When is the last time you read the most commonly accessed pages on your company website? Take a look and ask yourself if the copy is still relevant, or if you’d like to improve the language, update the layout, etc. Likewise, what pages underperform on your website? Ensure they effectively tell your story and are SEO rich. Does your social media presence speak to the business you're running now rather than where you were when you set up your accounts? Conduct an audit of foundational internal materials, including mission and vision statements, key messages, and business objectives. Check that your organizational chart and all key information on staff is up to date; you don’t want to have to scramble to find the number for your new Chief Business Officer during a crisis. Once your own house is in order, you can focus on external communications objectives, processes, platforms, and assets. If Instagram isn’t working for your team, close your account and focus on a different platform. If the messaging, logo, and branding don’t fully resonate with your story, now may be the moment to action an update. Are your crisis plans, boilerplates, and holding materials updated and ready to be used if you need them? Do those holding statements reflect the risks and concerns of our new realities (i.e. living in a pandemic)? If the answer to these questions isn’t yes, then get to work. If this past year taught us anything it’s that those who plan for the worst can navigate crises the best. The list of communications hygiene practices I’ve outlined today isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good start. As you begin the year in earnest, think about the things you should review and make sure your communications function is in prime health.