Gini Dietrich

The Big Question: Your 2017 Professional Development Goals

By: Gini Dietrich | January 13, 2017 | 
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Professional Development GoalsIt’s the official launch of The Big Question!

Are you excited?

I am!

Though, I have to admit I was really nervous when I introduced this new series.

I said to Erika Heald, “What if no one responds?”

She said, “Then you’ll post it to your personal Facebook wall because we know, even though they might not be serious answers, at least they’ll be answers.”

(Tells you A LOT about my friends. And, as they say, birds of a feather.)

But, I had no reason to be nervous.

I should have known from the way you’ve embraced the Slack community that you wouldn’t be shy about sharing your goals.

You guys all rock and we got TONS of great (and serious) answers.

Your 2017 Professional Development Goals

The first question of the year was:

What is your professional development goal for 2017 and how will you make it happen?

Between here on the blog, in the Slack community, and on social media, you have given us enough ammunition to hold you accountable and keep you on track.

We’ve also had a ton of great conversation and lots of very concrete goals.

There were way more than I can include here without turning this into a 5,000-word opus you’ll file in Pocket and never get around to reading.

So here are a few highlights.

Develop Skills that Make Us More Marketable

While there wasn’t a consensus around any particular set of skills you wanted to focus on, we did hear loud and clear that many of you are looking to structure a professional development plan for the year that helps you be more marketable—wether to new clients or within the communications field.

I know this isn’t a PR-specific goal BUT …… year after year after year I’ve said I wanted to improve my Spanish.

It’s why I joined a bilingual Toastmasters club and although it has been great for speaking in general, it’s not the place to work hard on your Spanish (at least the way my club is structured).

Therefore, one of my major ones is to improve my Spanish, which will help me communicate with a broader array of people.” — Paula Kiger

Some of our readers are concerned (and rightly so) that robots are going to automate some of our jobs, and we need to expand our definition of PR—and our skills—to keep up with the job market.

In all seriousness people need to focus on skills that won’t be automated in the next three to four years.

We are seeing so much being automated really fast even social media and creative jobs.

Remember personal assistants and butlers? All going away with Echo and Alexa. Bodyguards not so fast.” — Howie Goldfarb

OK, I don’t think Howie is telling us all to go CrossFit crazy and ditch our PR jobs to become bodyguards for the wealthy (right Howie?), but he does have a good point.

What work are you doing now that is repetitive and could be easily automated or outsourced?

I’ve challenged my team to evaluate how they spend their time and document activities that could be done by technology, freeing them up to spend more brainpower on the things only they can do.

My professional development goal is to hone my skills outside of traditional PR.

I’m finding that more and more, people use “public relations” as a synonym for “media relations” when in reality, there are so many tactics that contribute to a strong PR strategy—social media, content marketing, events, influencer marketing, thought leadership.

I understand the media, but I want to become stronger in areas that are just as critical to my job but not always associated with PR. — Maris Callahan

We’re going to make sure Maris and the rest of you who want more support implementing a PESO-based communications plan have all the tools and resources you need to effectively do so.

The 30-Day Communications Challenge was our first foray into helping you pull all the PESO model elements together into a working communications plan.

I promise we have even more hands-on content and resources planned for the rest of the year to make your PESO communication plan goals a reality.

Many of Us Struggle to Keep Up with Professional Development

It’s not surprising that, in an age with a ton of affordable, on-demand education courses, our eyes can be bigger than our schedules when it comes to signing up for courses.

Even something with as much ability to transform the effectiveness of your day-to-day work as our Modern Blogging Masterclass.

Every week, we receive emails from people who haven’t finished, apologizing to us. 

That’s why we weren’t surprised to see “finish all those courses I purchased” come up a few times in response to our question.

That’s so not necessary.

You don’t have to apologize to us.

Your professional development is something you do for yourself.

YOU need to make time for yourself and make your career development a priority.

No one else is going to do that for you.

If your team knows they can schedule over that two-hour block of professional development time on your calendar once per week and get away with it, they will.

Only by making a date with yourself and sticking to it will you make progress on your development.

If you’ve paid for a course, and haven’t started it, take some time to ask yourself why.

  • Is the topic no longer relevant due to changes in your organization or in your job?
  • Did you just not click with the instructor or their training method?

If either of these is the real reason why you haven’t made progress on a course, file it away and move on.

Don’t beat yourself up about it!

Bad purchase decisions happen all the time.

But if your reason is “I’ve been too busy” I urge you to look deeper.

We’re all busy.

We’re always busy.

But if something is important to you, you make time for it.

Why haven’t you made the time for this?

We Want to Get Our Content on Track

Whether it’s starting a new blog or improving our writing, many of us want to create better, more effective content in 2017.

Continue to improve my writing such as incorporate better SEO ideas as well as do a few posts of my very own.

I blog for work and Greater Greater Washington.

SEO and analytics are on my radar.

I can do top line stuff, but want to dig deeper now.

And personally, figure out how to work horseback riding lessons into my schedule. — Kristy C. Cartier

We can help with SEO and analytics, Kristy, but you’re on your own for the horseback riding.

My biggest goal is to treat myself like a client.

My personal writing has gone haywire the past few years because I’ve focused so much on my clients (work that I truly love).

But I feel like I’ve been behind the scenes and don’t really showcase my expertise as part of my personal and professional brand.

So I’m focusing on the things that made me successful at the beginning when I didn’t know what I was really doing (but had gusto and passion to learn)—and evolve my presence. — Berrak Sarikaya

The Next Big Question

A big THANK YOU to everyone who replied to our first Big Question.

This week, the question for you is:

What is your top PR goal for 2017 and how will you measure it?

If you need a refresher on what makes a good PR goal, check out this overview of setting SMARTER goals.

If you need help in figuring out how to measure it, that’s OK!

That’s why we are here.

We’ll help you work through it here in the comments or in the Slack community.

So let’s hear it…what is your top PR goal for 2017 and how will you measure it?

P.S. I know those question marks look like intestines. I’m working on a new image for this series. Coming soon!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.