The majority of us likely ushered in 2019, like every year prior, with well-intentioned resolutions—all of which seem to be forgotten by the time the last drop of champagne is poured on New Year’s Eve. 

This is true in life and business. In the communications field, December has always been a time of thoughtful reflection on the year that is coming to a close and strategic planning for the year that is about to rapidly descend upon us.

To have some fun, and because the impulse to develop communications plans and set goals for clients at the end of each year seems rather similar to making resolutions, we did a little data digging to get a sense of how quickly people stop talking about resolutions.

The Sloane Digital Strategy and Analytics team mapped out mentions of the phrase “New Year’s Resolution” (with some extra Boolean operators to get rid of unrelated noise) and determined that there is a dramatic drop off in mentions of resolutions from January 1, 2019 to January 7, 2019, decreasing by 87 percent (unsurprisingly).

We say let’s diligently work against human nature and be resolute and committed to each client’s strategic plan, which you and they undoubtedly spent many, many hours developing. But, do it thoughtfully and through strategic evaluation vs. checking off the boxes…

  • Be brutally honest with yourself, your team and your client about each initiative or goal that was set, where it stands and whether it is still relevant to the business. Do this on a recurring basis. If you haven’t executed against something, why not? There might be a very good reason for an element of the plan to fall to the wayside, but then what is taking its place and why?
  • Have a strong sense of ownership, but also hold others accountable. Buddy systems help people stick to going to the gym. The same is true for keeping up with your strategic plan. Everyone from the account lead down to the associate on the team should feel empowered to speak up, have an opinion and tactfully express when something isn’t going according to plan. 
  • Don’t be afraid to raise an issue and adjust course if that is the right thing to do for the client.  Communications professionals tend to catastrophize and think the sky is always falling—a personality trait that can be invaluable in this business, but also can elicit disproportionate responses to situations. However, it’s important to have the guts and grit to approach a client about what’s working and what isn’t and to offer a solution for how you will move forward together.

In some instances, abandoning or reshaping the goals and plans that were set in December makes sense. There are so many variables—even day to day—that can’t always be anticipated. Communications teams the world over need to be able adjust quickly to business pivots—like leadership changes, new marketing strategies that emerge, or M&A activity—and to world events that entirely change the public’s interest as well as the news cycle. But beyond the things that are out of our control, my last piece of advice for keeping to your plans is to save those plans right on your desktop and refer to them regularly and unapologetically.

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