The New Year brings excitement, promise and a new opportunity to sharpen your public relations, social media and digital marketing skills. Many people make personal resolutions like eating healthier and trying new things, so why not make a few resolutions for your business as well? The following five intentions can help you reach new customers, make connections with influencers and build your brand’s name recognition. Read on to learn them!

Happy New Year from Three Girls Media!
  1. Resolve to Make a Comprehensive Marketing Plan

Establishing a new strategy for 2017 requires coming up with a comprehensive plan. Luckily, that doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds! As Emily Sidley, Three Girls’ Sr. Dir. Of Publicity, explained in her blog post, How to Create Your 2017 Marketing Plan, there are five simple steps to drafting the perfect plan. They are:

  1. Review the previous year, determining what strategies worked and where there may be areas of opportunity.
  2. Establish new goals that are SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).
  3. Brainstorm new and exciting marketing strategies.
  4. Write out your plan visually. It’s helpful to do this month-by-month so you can see how strategies work together.
  5. Put your plan into action and evaluate it after about 6 months.

Some common strategies that may be helpful to include in your marketing plan are:

  • Press release creation and distribution
  • Hosting and promoting local events
  • Posting to social media with helpful, relevant and engaging content
  • Leveraging the power of social media advertising
  • Blogging regularly
  • Targeted editorial media pitching
  • Creating and sending email or printed company newsletters
  1. Resolve to Be More Active on Social Media

There are tons of reasons to be active on social media!

There are countless reasons why your business should be on social media; you’ll have the opportunity to reach a new demographic, get to know your audience on a personal level and even leverage the value of social channels for customer service. Here are just a few of the many reasons it’s worth it to invest in a social media presence:

  • Social media has a 100 percent higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing
  • 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook include images
  • 84 percent of people who follow/interact with SMBs online are likely to share a positive experience with their friends
  • Of those who use the internet, 76 percent of Americans use social media
  • 74 percent of consumers cited relying on social media when making purchasing decisions
  • 72 percent of social followers are more likely to make a future purchase
  • 71 percent of consumers who have had a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others
  • 70 percent of those helped via social media will return as a customer in the future
  • 50 percent of shoppers have made a purchase based on a recommendation through a social media network
  • 47 percent of people who follow brands on social media are more likely to visit the company’s website

As a business owner, you are likely strapped for time; publishing updates to social media may be the lowest priority on your list. We understand that there isn’t always the time to consistently maintain your social profiles.

  1. Resolve to Make Better Connections with Journalists

One great item to focus on in the New Year is to form stronger and more solid relationships with writers, reporters and journalists. They are your gateway to the world; the ones who will be telling your story. Take the time to get to know them and the topics they write about, make sure your pitches are well crafted and relevant, and that you always offer something of value to their readers.

Writing perfect pitches and drafting excellent media advisories may not turn out successfully if you don’t have a solid plan in place for media relations. Building strong connections with journalists in the New Year can be one of the best ways to get your pitch heard and your company featured in their next story; many journalists are more likely to open a pitch if they already have a working relationship with the person who sent it. Here are four ways for you to get started in 2017:

  1. Comment on Journalists’ Recent Work: Researching the reporter’s beat, or specialty, reading their recent articles and letting them you enjoyed their work know when you contact them can show the media you are following their stories and legitimately want to connect. For extra points, read their stories from the past 6 months or so and make sure they haven’t already covered a similar story or trend.
  2. Always Be Pleasant and Respectful in Interactions: Journalists are busy people with quick deadlines and turnarounds for their work. They also receive hundreds of pitches every day, so they may be annoyed by your uninvited communication. Bothering them at all hours to cover you or your business can be an easy way to ensure they won’t pick up the story. Be pleasant, friendly and respectfully persistent in your pitching and follow up approaches.
  3. Contact Them Where (And When) They Want to Be Reached: In addition to reading a journalist’s recent stories, you should also brush up on their preferred contact details. Since journalists change beats and publications frequently, make sure the information is up to date, they haven’t moved along to another position or company and that you contact them during appropriate times of the day.
  4. Follow directions: If a reporter tells you they want high-resolution images or samples of a specific product, do your best to follow their directions. Ask when their deadline is and then get them what they need before you miss the opportunity to land media coverage.

    4. Resolve to Be More Accessible

    This New Year, try to be more accessible for journalists and your customers.

This New Year, make it a priority to be more open and accessible for your clients, fans and customers. Part of being accessible is having a presence on social media, but another tactic to increase your brand recognition and awareness is to create a one-stop shop for anyone needing more information about your company or its products.

Consider creating an Electronic Press Kit (EPK), which will house all relevant information about your business online. It’s important to remember that an electronic press kit is written for journalists, not consumers, so it should be free of overly sales-y language. A great EPK includes the following elements:

  • Your Contact Information: How do you prefer to be contacted? List this at the very top of your EPK so it’s easy to find. Make sure you include a phone number and email address so they can get a hold of you quickly.
  • Your Unique Benefits: What does your company do, and what makes you special? This should be clear within the very first paragraph of your EPK.
  • Industry-Specific Details: Is there anything your company specializes in that you need to explain?
  • Details About the Company’s Founder: Would it be helpful to include details about yourself as the founder/owner? For some companies it makes sense, although for others it’s not necessary.
  • Product Price: How much does your product or service cost?
  • Company Location: Where is your company located? How can consumers contact you?
  • Story Ideas: What would be a great story about your business? We suggest 3-5 basic ideas for journalists’ stories about your business.
  • Extra Information: Is there anything else you think needs to be included? Some companies have an interesting story behind how they started or have a cool initiative worth sharing.
  1. Resolve to Take Advantage of Seasonal Marketing Opportunities

While we just passed the holiday season, the New Year is a perfect time to plan out your seasonal marketing approach for next year, in addition to determining the success of your previous campaigns. Take a look at what worked and what didn’t, make notes of challenges and opportunities and think of a new way to approach seasonal opportunities. And don’t forget about other holidays, like Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and your business’ anniversaries, too!

There are several ways to reach out to your customers during holidays; they involve combining traditional marketing techniques with digital tactics:

  • Deck out your social profiles with seasonal imagery
  • Include website and social links on all printed marketing materials
  • Hold a seasonal contest and engage social media fans
  • Create a seasonal, limited-edition product
  • Send e-newsletter greetings, wishing customers joy during holidays
  • Partner with another business to hold a local event
  • Share photos of holiday prep via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
  • Hold a holiday sale

These social media and public relations resolutions will put your business on the path to success in the New Year.