SMART Goals for the Modern Communicator by Hannah Schuller

As a recent graduate entering the public relations field, I created lots of personal and professional goals the past few months as I mapped out what I want the next steps of my career to be. My favorite goal setting technique is SMART – setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. As I attended PRSA Central Ohio’s “The Modern Communicator” Annual Conference and learned about succeeding in the communication field, I identified SMART tips and tricks that could help individuals or companies rise to the top of their PR game.

SPECIFIC: FrazierHeiby’s session about strategic storytelling offered multiple tips to narrow down your brand’s purpose and value. Ann Mulvany and Whitney Somerville talked about how important it is to know what your company stands for and be clear about what you’re willing to do on behalf of your company. Strategy is making a clear, informed decision and being specific about your choices. If your company doesn’t have a specific purpose and values, you can’t tell amazing stories in a way that strategically impacts your brand. Finding great characters, moments and emotions can be key to a story that furthers your brand’s specific purpose.

MEASURABLE: Amy Shropshire presented about how content and SEO work together. When content strategy and search engine optimization intersect, measurability is key to ensuring your content is performing the highest it can. It’s important to define your audience, audit what you already have and measure for success.

ACHIEVABLE: In Hana Bieliauskas’ session about leveraging strong influencer partnerships, I learned about the attainability of influencer work. Overall, 92 percent of consumers trust influencer marketing over traditional advertising, which is a compelling reason to utilize this avenue in your marketing strategy but can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to start. There are many types of influencers, but most posts on Instagram are from micro-influencers, who have between 5,000 and 100,000 followers. Inspire PR Group mainly works with nano-influencers, who have less than 5,000 followers. Influencer marketing doesn’t have to involve celebrities and extremely popular creators – it’s achievable to reach out to nano- and micro-influencers with high engagement to create meaningful relationships for your brand or client.

RELEVANT: In the keynote address about rebranding in a millennial world, Christine King talked about the challenges facing baby boomer brands as they fight to stay relevant in today’s digital environment. As a millennial/Gen Z cusp, which Christine called a “Millzy,” it was interesting to see how much I resonated with her advice. Brands should focus on visualization over explanation to stay relevant, both online and in-person – millennials are drawn to clean lines and minimalistic design that mimics the Silicon Valley experience. They should also provide need-based solutions to stay relevant to millennials, while including a deeper meaning behind their brand story. Disruptors like Amazon and Coca-Cola, who put the customer first while inventing and being patient, are great examples of baby boomer brands innovating to stay relevant in today’s world.

TIME-BOUND: In the plenary session about leading through crisis with Hinda Mitchell, president and founder of Inspire PR Group, I learned so much about how timing is crucial in crisis communications. This topic has been on my mind since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and this session gave me insight into the essential traits of a leader and how to respond timely in a crisis. Hinda’s biggest tip was to never assume it won’t happen to you – you have to have a plan ready in case of emergency. When a crisis hits, it’s imperative as a leader to bring your team together to assign roles and make sure you can be reached quickly and easily. Successful brand recovery in a crisis takes authenticity, consistency, reliability, strong execution and time.

I’m so grateful to have been awarded a scholarship to attend The Modern Communicator conference with so many amazing Columbus PR professionals. I can’t wait to continue learning and growing within the chapter and create many SMART goals to come!


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