As we get deeper into summer, you may have noticed a change in your environment. People go on vacation; offices introduce summer hours; companies withhold their next big announcements for fall. That’s PR in the summer: calmer than usual. Of course, that’s not saying much, given our normal hectic pace. And this can feel downright weird to a PR pro who’s used to being in 5-alarm fire mode.
So here’s the good news – downtimes (which in some industries can occur any time of year) can turn into a highly productive season. You can be creative and thoughtful in your efforts, instead of being in rush mode as you jump the hurdles right in front of you. Here are 10 ways to use downtime to your advantage.
1. Scrub your media lists.
We all know that turnover happens and the media landscape changes quickly. Go through your media and influencer contact lists and clean house, update email addresses and social media handles, delete long-gone reporters and note valuable new contacts. Make notes so the rest of your team can leverage your knowledge of the influencers with whom you have relationships.
2. Work on the relationships, not the stories.
Now that you have a clean and current media list, reach out to your network. Send an updated list of your clients and topics for which they can serve as references. Ask what your contacts are working on these days (did their beat change?) and find out how they prefer to be pitched.
Take a reporter you haven’t talked to in a while out for coffee. Find out how you can be a good resource and not a flack that fills their inbox with junk. By using this time to strengthen those relationships, you’ll open the door to upcoming future opportunities.
3. Go on a fact-finding mission.
Data can be one of a PR pro’s greatest assets, but it can also be time-consuming to collect and therefore often gets put on the backburner. Dedicate some of your slower hours to creating a trove of current research and statistics on your clients’ industries, so you can grab from it quickly when time isn’t on your side.
4. Plan your repeatable, annual PR campaigns.
Some campaigns repeat year over year, such as holiday gift guides, tradeshows or seasonal events. Slow seasons are a great time to look at your repeatable playbooks, tweak, and refine for the next time you need them.
5. Create more content.
Rather than rushing to continually fill your content pipeline, draft some evergreen blog posts, long form pieces, or even videos for future use. Summer is often slow for your senior leaders as well, which makes these weeks a great time to download their wisdom and insight for future thought leadership pieces.
6. Tap other departments for fresh ideas.
Talk to other teams, like sales, HR, or customer service. They might have insight into brand image issues to address, unique employee stories, or upcoming products to feature on the blog.
7. Repurpose old content.
Hunt through your archives of old blog posts, ebooks and marketing collateral. Some of the topics might be ripe for a new paint job and some refreshing. Or you can look at recent big campaigns and see if you can pull out an infographic or article from that recent ebook.
8. Invest in team development.
Growing skillsets for team members is always a good idea. Who could benefit from intensifying their social media skills? Who could use a public speaking class or an online seminar? Slow seasons are the perfect time to brush up on professional development.
This is something we know we should be doing all year long: attending professional conferences and events where we can stay current on industry developments, promote our brand, and make valuable contacts. Take advantage of the breathing room to finally get out there and network.
10. Think big.
Often we come up with killer ideas but they require more research and development than we have when we’re putting out fire after fire. Downtime is the perfect time to revisit an ambitious concept and launch a special campaign or initiative that will make a major impact. Autumn will be here before you know it, plunging your team into a frenzy of activity again… so take advantage of your lighter schedule and turn your summer slump into summer success.