PR’s New Year’s resolutions

PRWeek's Frank Washkuch on getting back to getting together, but not abandoning what’s worked.

Frank Washkuch, executive editor, PRWeek
Frank Washkuch, executive editor, PRWeek

You don’t need me to tell you this, but 2020 was a hell of a year, filled with unprecedented business, personal, social and political challenges. Like with any ordeal, there are many lessons for leaders, and even some silver linings from the worst year in recent memory. So with the positive mindset of throwing away a calendar and opening a new one, here are my New Year’s resolutions for the PR industry for 2021. 

No. 1, let’s all spend more time together. One of the best pieces of advice I have for both young journalists and PR pros is to get out of your comfort zone and accept that meeting invite to lunch or to an industry event (at a safe and appropriate distance, of course). The most trusted relationships that reporters develop are with people they actually know, and the same goes for the PR pros who pitch them stories. That will be more important than ever as the world gets back to normal, or at least the next stage of the new normal. 

That being said, I hope the leaders of corporate comms teams and agencies won’t forget about the aspects of working from home that have been beneficial. While most of us would like to see each other again, even at the risk of returning to office coffee, clearly not every meeting requires every team member to attend in person. One of the findings of PRWeek’s State of the PR Nation feature that was published in December was that most agency leaders have embraced a hybrid work future for their employees. That’s a positive for both work-life balance and productivity. 

Which brings me to my third and final New Year’s resolution for PR: It’s time for team leaders to listen — and I mean really listen — to their employees. Go down the list of 2020’s biggest PR trends and you’ll find it’s all about employees. 

Think about it. The increased importance of internal comms. The widespread acceptance of diversity, equity and inclusion as a critical business issue. And, of course, employee burnout, as team leaders do their best to keep staffers productive and happy amid the grueling work-from-home schedule. It’s critical that executives encourage their staffers to bring their whole selves to work, most crucially their opinions, to maintain highly functioning organizations.

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