Back to School Season for PR Pros

As the long, hot months of summer (and summer Fridays) inevitably come to an end, it’s time to begin preparing for the fall – when clients and colleagues alike return from vacation, ready to dive headfirst into the final months of 2023. The new year on the horizon indicates it’s time to start thinking about trend wrap-ups, end of year reporting and how to best prepare yourself and your clients for next year’s initiatives and programming.  

Below, I’ve shared a few ideas to help ease the transition from the quieter months of summer to the tumult of fall, through the end of the year.  

Look Ahead 

As you reflect on your needs for the new season, it’s a great time to reflect on client needs and priorities, too. There are countless ways to prepare for the last four months of the year, so I’ve outlined a few high-level tasks below to help streamline your process: 

  • Update media lists and set your sights on new targets. Today’s newsrooms are in a constant state of flux, making it integral for PR professionals to revisit and update media lists on a regular basis. As you prepare for the final quarter of 2023, conduct research to ensure your lists are up to date and your go-to contacts are still covering the same beats. The review process also offers an opportunity to set your sights on new media targets in the new year (and a chance to try to lock in any leftover targets from this year). 
  • Evaluate competitors. Before the start of the new year, conduct an analysis of your clients’ major competitors and evaluate their communication tactics to determine new ways to differentiate your client as a leader in their industry.  
  • Prepare for end of year trend articles. The end of 2023 marks the start of the push for year-end recap and trend articles. Take this opportunity to potentially garner additional media coverage for your client and brainstorm how to position them as a thought leader in their industry who can offer valuable EOY insights to niche audiences.  
  • Look ahead at 2024 trends. Clients are looking to you to know what’s hot right now and where to focus efforts in the new year. Keep up with trending topics and methods by reading industry newsletters, reviewing editorial calendars and exploring professional development opportunities that give you, and your services, a competitive advantage.  

Prepare for EOY Reporting 

With Q4 on the horizon at the end of September, the calm before the end of year storm offers time to start preparing for EOY reports. After months of announcements, award submissions, interviews and social campaigns, it can be helpful to start the first steps of the reporting process sooner than later. Begin to gather and organize top tier media hits, interview clips, bylined articles and highly engaged with social posts now so as to not be left scrambling come December 1. Revisit what made these media moments so successful and take notes so that you can come prepared once you begin developing EOY reports for your clients.   

Treat Yourself 

Retta said it best as Donna Meagle on NBC’s beloved “Parks and Recreation.” Before the start of the new season, take a moment to take stock of your stationery situation. Is your favorite BIC Atlantis pen about to run out of ink? Are you filling up the last few pages of your daily agenda? These signs indicate it might be time to treat yourself! 

Capitalize on end of summer sales at Office Max and Papier and stock up on essentials us PR professionals use daily, like pens, planners and sticky notes. If you like to match, Rifle Paper Co. offers a wide variety of colorful, patterned stationery that’s sure to help keep your work organized. If you’re like me and prefer simplicity, you can never go wrong with a traditional, college-ruled notebook from Mead 

Studies have shown that treating yourself, and others, can positively impact your mood. Set yourself up for success next season by gearing up with the stationery items that help you feel prepped and ready to tackle any client ask. Take this advice one step further to also reflect on the methods and habits you’ve established throughout 2023. If a process is no longer serving you, there is no better time than the present to reevaluate and try a different direction.  

In the end, the transition from summer to fall doesn’t need to be stressful for PR professionals. By incorporating these tools into your day-to-day work, you can help prepare yourself for the final, fleeting moments of 2023.  

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