In the ever-evolving realm of public relations, the old adage rings true: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The summer has passed by in a flash, and many firms are bunkering down for winter’s hibernation. Still others, however, are using this lull before the silly season to set objectives and define goals for the year ahead.

For entrepreneurs in the age of online media, planning is more important than ever before. Here are three factors to consider if you plan to succeed.

Assess your asset

It is always good to look back before you look forward. If your business received media attention in the last year, review your coverage with a critical eye: which angles and pitches worked well for your business, which stories ensured positive coverage? Which journalists reported in your favour, and which didn’t? How did your competitors fare?

In the year ahead, your business objectives should remain front and centre of your key media messages. How you talk about your firm, and your product, matters: your messages should be the tour de force of your communication output in the months, and years, to come.

Lastly, define your path ahead. Look at your business plan from the perspective of a journalist, or press agent: what will be of interest to customers, suppliers and investors? What media opportunities are set to occur in the next year- anything from product launches to new service offerings might provide you with the perfect opportunity to create buzz about your firm.

Put your goals in writing: you’ll want to revisit them next year to evaluate.

What are your tools?

Now that you have your plans, you need to identify the activities required to enable your objectives to be achieved. A key part of ensuring timely output is the use of a news release calendar, allowing you- or your PR team- to map out the releases that will ensure you keep momentum over the next year. This structure will evolve as the year unfolds, but it helps to have it now.

Next, pencil in a time for media outreach. Contact individual reporters, and introduce yourself. Contacts in with media outlets, publications and journalists are still the bread and butter of good public relations, make sure you develop this connections from the outset to give your planning the best chance at realisation.

At the same time, the internet might be your best friend in the year ahead. Depending on your firm, establishing a blog is a surefire way to get your message out there, on your own terms. Keep your audience activated, stay motivated, and write in a way that ensures your brand comes to be known as an industry thought-leader.

Planning a PR strategy early on is essential for the generation of new ideas and avenues of success; it also gives you peace of mind about tomorrow as you grow your business today. Though plans can change, and flexibility remains key, your goals and focus should always lead the way.

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