In the last decade, PR professionals have had their job roles extend from media relations masters to social media gurus, to SEO weavers, to paid media data analysts, to content marketing machines ‒ and the list of new responsibilities and tasks goes on. Finally making my way to the cinema to watch The Incredibles 2 with my nieces recently, it made me think how I feel at work some days, mentally and physically stretched like a taut elastic band.
Being agency side, I can identify with Elastigirl. The remit of working in PR and comms keeps on stretching and yet somehow never snaps. It not just demands new skill sets, new technologies and dynamic plans, but there are new markets, new players, and endless disruption to understand and conquer. It’s as much about real-time work flows and the pressure to keep on top of everything and to deliver RIGHT NOW. You have to ring fence time to think of the best way to achieve it all. You can’t sprint a marathon, and why run up and down a mountain, if you can zip around the side to achieve the same result faster?
Our clients are similarly under enormous pressure, many have very broad marketing remits and ‘catch-all’ job specs, reminding me more of Dash, zipping from bigger brand-focused campaigns to marketing content, to events, lead gen and beyond, and there’s a constantly growing list of marketing disciplines and deliverables too. From shareholder value, right the way through to producing marketing qualified leads for the sales team, every £1 of that marketing budget has to be accounted for and proved to be delivering huge ROI. And the budget never seems to be big enough to meet the CEO’s requirements for the business. Marketing is a never-ending and a tough role indeed.
So, how do we all cope with these ever-increasing demands? For sure you need to manage your work-life balance to keep your energy levels as high as possible and your stress levels as low as possible. To stay relevant in today’s changing world we all have a duty to make sure we are Incredible, to tone up and flex those muscles to be sure we can r….e….a….l….l….y stretch to achieve ‘never done before’ contortionist positions, and deliver those stand-out campaigns.
If you’re thinking this stretching malarkey sounds like pure torture, then try a few of my tips below and you’ll be limbering up for greater flexibility in no time. It isn’t hard, it just takes time. Try and make a bit of progress every week and you will be even more Incredible than you are today.
STRETCH your mind
Subscribe to Medium for €5 per month, choose your subjects and let some brain food drop in your inbox. Medium has great quality writers, thinkers and contributors – there’s always something tempting to be inspired by. Or blow your mind weekly (for free) with a rather brilliant web trends round-up by Matt Muir. Read Web Curios by Imperica. It’s hilarious and long (average 30 minute read) but is always guaranteed to inspire and make you feel more in touch with the cool kids.
TWIST your thinking around
Maybe there are new ways to reach those targets? Should paid media really be in our PR plan? Oh yes, paid social is huge, and getting bigger. Learn how to build ‘paid campaigns’ into your plans. You can learn online in your own time, or you can attend face-to face courses, the advantage being that you meet other people and learn from your colleagues as much as from your trainers. You could do two months for free with Skillshare, but at £7pm for a Premium account, I am sure you could feed your mind with huge amounts of new learning. The PRCA runs many courses on Digital Marketing at £400. Alternatively, try Udacity or Coursera for a myriad of courses for the digital economy. Get a nano degree in Digital Marketing for £799 – the cost of two face-to-face courses – or a shorter, six week stint for a more digestible £60 a month. Great for the mind, great inspiration, great for the CV ‒ and all completed over three months, spending ten hours per week. Or you can top up your analytics understanding with Google’s free GA courses. Simples.
SQUEEZE every last drop
Remember, it’s also vital to talk about campaigns with long legs or campaigns with long tails. Recruit your social media army, learn about amplification, employee advocacy and social selling. There are many tools to help but Everyone Social is one of my favourites for employee advocacy, Social HP (horsepower) is another. LinkedIn offer a free demo of Sales Navigator or book onto a Social Selling course via the IDM. And here’s some more insight on social selling from the Digital Marketing Institute. Each one helps you get every last bang for your buck, extending your content lifespan and making sure you’re not creating the campaign equivalent or non-reusable packaging!
RELEASE your creative energy
Try using Brainsparker to come up with some very different thinking. It’s a free app that means you can be a one-person whirlwind of creativity without relying on any colleagues. Or dabble in a bit of AI for creativity with Yossarian, which is also free, and it’ll broaden your thoughts and ideas in completely unexpected directions. Warning: It’s quite addictive. Or read my blog post for more ideas on how to get your creative juices flowing.
It’s a good idea to have a 50/50 balance for any comms programme - today vs. tomorrow. So how can you anticipate future trends and lunge forward with your thinking and planning? For consumer brands, there are many futureology type organisations. We like TrendWatching and you can sign up for daily, or quarterly emails for free, or subscribe to their premium service. For B2B trend insights, there’s a plethora of content online, some of it vertically-oriented from industry associations, but as a general round up we would recommend Harvard Business Review. If you can’t afford a subscription, then you can access three articles a month for free, so 36 articles a year and they are all very weighty to digest.
Good luck and remember, the difference between try and triumph is a little ‘umpf’, so get your ‘Be More Incredible’ plan together and give it lots of ‘umpf’.