BLOG_3Projects_NG-01The New Year is underway and, if you are like most PR and marketing folks, your core 2014 plans are in pretty good shape. But even if your budgets are locked down, you may be keeping a wish list of special projects you hope get funded in the year ahead. Sure, it would be amazing to FINALLY be able to do a mobile tour or ink a high-profile sponsorship. But even if the special project budget is only modestly funded, you can still check off a few of those slightly less glamorous projects that offer significant long-term value.

Here are three to consider:

Refresh Your Newsroom: Press center. Corporate newsroom. Content hub. Whatever you call it, chances are unless you’ve updated it in the last 12 months you could use an upgrade. As brands move ever closer to content development and self publishing, and reporters seek more multi-media resources for every story, making sure your newsroom offers what influencers are seeking is more important than ever. Designing an influencer-friendly newsroom and a supporting content strategy is surprisingly fast and reasonably affordable, especially if you have in-house tech support. What’s that you say? You can’t get IT’s attention long enough to update the media contact’s phone number, much less revamp the whole section? No worries. It’s not only possible, but also cost effective to work with an outside partner to create your newsroom as a microsite that seamlessly integrates with your corporate site when your IT service ticket finally comes up. Revise Your Social Media Strategy: A couple of years ago marketers had to fight tooth and nail to even test social media. Today it’s just as likely that you are defending your decision not to invest major resources in Vine. Having a clear social media strategy in place is a great way to stay focused and make sure the time and energy you invest are paying off. Whether you have social media experts on staff or work with an outside partner, prioritizing the social networks that align with your business goals, focusing on engagement strategies and updating measurement criteria should be part of your annual marketing planning. The discipline will help ensure social media is working hard for your brand. Once your plan is in place, leave some time and resources to experiment with emerging apps and networks – part of the allure of social media is the ability to quickly adjust strategies and tools when something new hits the scene, which happens quickly and frequently. Revisit Your Crisis Communication Plan: Assuming you have a crisis communication plan (you DO have a crisis communication plan, don’t you?) the beginning of the year is an excellent time to dust it off and take a closer look. If you were lucky enough not to put it in action last year, it makes sense to give it a critical eye for simple updates that will save you considerable time, stress and trouble if you need to use it in the coming year:

  • Is your contact list up to date?
  • Have your spokespeople been media coached recently?
  • Are there any new scenarios to add to the template materials?
  • Are your CEO, HR team and legal counsel up to speed on the plan?

Also, if your plan hasn’t been updated to reflect the changes social media has wrought on the communication landscape, run, do not walk, to your plan and start updating now. Social media has changed the way companies hear about crisis situations, how they respond to them and, in some cases, it even creates them. Do not assume that your social media team has a crisis response plan in place, or that it is in sync with your master plan (Hint: corporate counsel and compliance officers can be extra picky here; it’s a good idea to make sure you are all on the same page before an issue arises.). Here’s to refreshing, revising and revisiting your way to a positive and productive 2014.

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