When you are in your 20s, the same question seems to come up over and over and over again. "What's next?" If you are anything like me this is usually followed by hyperventilation and nostalgia for the days when your biggest problem was figuring out who to take to prom.
Welp, those days are over ladies and gentlemen. Grab a brown paper bag and breathe! It’s time to face that fearful question head on. Let me be honest, this has always been one of my greatest challenges. The “U” word invokes a special type of panic and nausea for me too. In fact, about a year ago I had more than a few despondent moments in the battle against uncertainty. But out of that time came what I consider a masterpiece and a major chill pill.
How did I get through it all? Like a PR Pro. I busted out my good ole’ public relations and communications know-how and created a strategic communications plan. This works for two reasons. First, it satisfies your need to have a plan or some kind of idea of what’s next and second, it gives you something to busy your mind with. Most importantly, if you use it properly you will get what you want!
So next time you come upon the question of, “what’s next?” Simply follow these steps:
- Background/Situational Analysis: This is where you will summarize external elements (like the economy), what is going on in your industry of interest, who you are, what you have to offer and how you have been promoting yourself thus far. Additionally, you may want to look at the number of people interested in your same industry, asses the competition and have a clear understanding of your resources.
- Core problem/Opportunity: In this section of your plan you will address what your problem or opportunity is. This could be you not knowing what you would like your next step to be, or it could be an opportunity that you don’t know how to grab.
- Goal: Here you will directly state what it is you want. This takes a little soul searching but it is absolutely necessary to make your plan work.
- Objectives: Now, what constitutes the achievement of your goals? These objectives must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Sensitive (S.M.A.R.T.) and address all aspects of your goal.
- Key Publics: This is where you will determine who you will need to communicate with and reach in order to achieve your objectives and goal. Also, you should have an understanding of why these publics are important to your goal.
- Brand Positioning & Framing: How are you currently seen? What makes you unique? After you have answered those questions figure out how you can use those things to your advantage.
- Messaging: Develop a way to talk about your skills, experience and knowledge in a way that highlights your unique characteristics and strongest professional and personal attributes.
- Strategies & Tactics: This is where you get into the nitty-gritty of how you are going to make your goals and objectives come to fruition. Go back and take a look at your key publics. How are you going to get your message to them? Will you reach out to experts in the field via “cold emails” or social media? Will you write a blog to show your own expertise?
- Last but not least, don’t forget to Evaluate. It sad to say, but this probably won’t be the last time in your life that you will need to do this. As preparation for the next time it’s imperative to take stock of what worked, what didn’t work and what you could have done better.
This is just a brief summary of what you would do to get your plan going. You may do a SWOT and competitor analysis to see how you can improve your skill set. You could also create a calendar so that you stay on track with completing the tactics in your plan. These are all ways to make sure that you have a fire-proof plan and a little less to stress about.
I can testify that this works! Using the skills I already had as a PR pro has gotten me out of many uncertainty slumps and helped me to make huge professional and personal transitions.
For more details on how I did this shoot me a message. Also, if you try this, let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear your testimonies!