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Part I, 2014 PR & marketing resolution: consume better sources of information

In 2014, by boosting the quality of information you consume, you will likewise elevate the quality of information that you convey.
In 2014, by boosting the quality of information you consume, you will likewise elevate the quality of information that you convey.TED.com

As we look ahead to the next 12 months, much that rattles around is so much white noise—about the same shade as the snowfall that is currently descending on Chicagoland.

We are barraged with stuff like “I am resolved to eat better” and “I am resolved to exercise more,” along with endless tips on how to heighten your likelihood of success. That’s all well and good, particularly in light of our nation’s penchant for packing on pounds and putting regular exercise so far down on our priority list.

But for those of us in the public relations and marketing arena, those common New Year’s resolutions can take on a special significance when translated to our professional efforts. Let’s first examine “I am resolved to eat better” in a PR/marketing context.

Another term for eating is “consuming” and as communicators, we are continually in the mode of consuming information. Some is for our pleasure, some is for our professional use—and all of it has an impact on the clarity, sharpness and creativity in our thinking. And the quality of our thinking has a direct bearing on the quality of our communication.

So when it comes to your sources of input, what resolutions do you believe would be beneficial in the realm of “eating better”? Here are some of mine:

Consume more inspirational and insightful information.

It’s hardly the only game in town, but an excellent resource that fits this bill is www.TED.com.

Today, about five years after first coming across TED, I am amazed when I mention it to knowledgeable, bright people and they give me a blank look. They have never heard of it before.

This reveals more the reality of our fragmented channels of communication than any of these individual’s tastes or information-gathering diligence. In short, there are simply so many outlets available to us that there is no way we can possibly stay on top of it all. However, we can make a concerted effort to increase the proportion of input that inspires and illuminates.

Another potential resource is The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. It's a book recommended this month by Dan Yuen, an Amway Diamond and World Wide DreamBuilders leader during a series of Dream Night events that help Independent Business Owners focus on achieving their goals in the year ahead.

And, as the book communicates, the bigger the goal, the fewer number of overall goals you ought to have. Otherwise, you are too spread out to be able to hone in on the one thing that is most significant to you.

If you aren't consuming those types of insights, you are at greater risk of spinning your wheels and wondering why you aren't moving toward your stated objective.

Consume more quality news content.

Let’s expose ourselves to insightful perspectives on the news that go beyond the obvious and offers historical context and that elusive Holy Grail of reporting long referred to as “balance.”

Undoubtedly, just what constitutes “quality” and “balance” will vary from one person to the next, so that brings us to the next resolution recommendation.

Consume from a wider variety of sources.

Expanding the range of your concentric circles of “appropriate news sources” is fine, but don't stop there. Make more regular forays into far-flung sources that might go so far as to be 180 degrees opposite your viewpoint, whether political, intellectual or otherwise.

By keeping an open mind, we are tilling fertile soil for growth, broader understanding and more nuanced refinement of our core views. Besides, we might just learn that we’ve been flat-out wrong about a few things along the way.

What does this all have to do with public relations and marketing?

For starters, it makes us more well-rounded individuals, with a more expansive knowledge base. That wider base, in turn, enables us to relate to a wider spectrum of people (including prospects and clients) and to devise more diverse and creative ways of telling stories. And that, without a doubt, can turbo-charge any PR or marketing endeavor that you launch.

Next: “I am resolved to exercise more”—the benefits of exercising more restraint, more discipline and more patience in your public relations and marketing communications.