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By Chris Blake | December 23, 2019

I’ve been with MSR Communications almost as long as they’ve been around. Earlier this year, we celebrated the public relations marketing agency’s 20th anniversary, which makes me especially reflective as I consider my New Year’s resolutions for 2020.

The past two decades have seen considerable changes in the public relations industry and MSR has worked hard to evolve to ensure we’re always meeting the equally everchanging needs of our clients, employees and partners. Change is an absolutely essential part of remaining competitive, but we must go about it strategically, always in tune with our world. We have to make change, not be changed.

Here are the top three ways I’ll ensure that in 2020:

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So much of what we do involves outward communication—talking, writing, pitching, messaging—that we sometimes forget to take in what others are communicating as well.

Note: Twitter does not count! Granted, social media is an essential part of what we do. If you’re not plugged in, you’re not in sync with a big part of today’s human experience. (How can you effectively communicate if you have no idea what’s going on?)

The problem with Twitter and other social platforms is they tend to hijack your content intake and perhaps even cripple the learning experience. You’re seeing what algorithms want you to see.

To ensure greater exposure to the world at large and a more controlled intake of the kind of content that will help you broaden your horizons as a PR pro in meaningful ways, try creating a small list of newspapers, magazines, websites, podcasts, etc. that you can check in on regularly. Take an hour or so every day to just… consume. This way, you can avoid all the distractions of liking this and commenting on that, which cut into unadulterated intake.

Learn New Skills

With a third of today’s workers worried about being forced out by automation and digital transformation (according to professional services giant PwC), many are beginning to realize the need to learn new skills to keep up with the accelerating pace of change.

Don’t think change won’t come to PR. It already has. Many of use employ automation in conducting research, creating media lists and media monitoring and measurement.

Some of us, like my colleague Michael Burke, recently got his data science degree and is now applying data and automation to everything from buyer behaviors to campaign performance analysis. (Most recently, in a fascinating report, he showed how machine learning can be used to illustrate the spreading of ideas through political news coverage.) Others have been heading over to Udemy where I for one was able to get deep SEO training for just a few bucks.

PR pros are required to wear so many hats these days. In addition to bread-and-butter media and analyst relations, many of us have expanded our expertise to include content marketing, digital marketing, website design and so much more. In between pitching and staffing reporter interviews, we’re serving clients by churning out blog posts, producing podcasts, and creating videos for YouTube.

And it’s only the beginning. If you want to keep earning, you need to keep learning.

Relax

The PR business can be incredibly taxing. Earlier this year, CBS News ran a piece that called PR the sixth most stressful job you can have, not far below airline pilot and police officer. Therefore, it is an absolute imperative that we remember not only to use our vacation days, but to find ways to make time spent on the job a little less hectic as well as constructive ways to unwind after work.

Let’s face it, nobody wants to be around frazzled PR practitioners. They don’t seem in control, they tend to make mistakes, and they can distract everyone else. If this is starting to sound a bit like you, your number one priority right now is to find a way to chill. This might sound hard to do when you’re caught up in the swirling hurricane winds of CES, but even the promise of relaxation can have a calming effect.

When I start feeling stressed, I take a few minutes to plan for time off. Just having something to look forward to can be surprisingly effective in muting the storm just enough to continue being an effective member of the team. My colleagues in turn find their own ways of getting the lead out, so we can celebrate our public relations marketing agency’s next decade of service.