At PR Agencies, February Brings Business Clarity

By Scott Signore

I’ve thought for some time that the start of February marks the official kickoff of the business year, particularly for those of us in public relations, social media and creative agencies. Here are a few reasons why that’s the case:

First, there’s a flurry of activity after the year-end break, but by the start of February you and your PR clients are in an action-packed groove, working off the plans you developed in Q4 and delivering results. It’s a busy month, but it’s a different type of busy, particularly if your clients are in markets that hold one of the big trade shows in January, such as CES, The Shot Show, The Builders Show or The PGA Show, to name only a few. Much planning related to business and communications success occurs in the months leading into these shows, but it’s game time when the events begin and that requires energy and effort at the very start of a new year.

Second, no matter how much time, energy and effort you spend in Q4 planning and preparing for the start of the new year, a number of clients and prospects wait to end one calendar before starting the next to make decisions about programs and budgets. So, while there’s plenty to do in January for clients who have made decisions before the end of the year, you tend to have a “wait-and-see” approach regarding proposals that have been delivered. (Blogger’s note: our “wait-and-see” approach is way more active than one may expect, due to the constant communication we maintain with prospects and clients during this time. The term really refers to solidifying resources, budgets, etc.)

Third, you can judge momentum by mid-February and you can rely on agency history to get an idea of how the balance of the year may go. Like the political analysts who “call” a victory when the results from only a few voting districts have been recorded – which is strange but really based on exit polls – I feel certain that you can predict how the year ahead will go by 45 days into the new calendar, and you can prepare accordingly. If your PR or social media agency is thriving in the first quarter of a new year, be certain your recruiting pipeline is rich in candidates and you have ample space to accommodate the new staff!

Fourth, you have a clear picture of who’s on your side for the year ahead. You may have lost a quality player or two to another good professional opportunity over the holiday or as soon as he or she returns from the year-end break – that happens, and some attrition is good for an agency – but for the most part you know where you can assign your trusted and experienced resources.

Finally, related to all of the above, February gives you solid perspective on what you should consider as business steps that will further differentiate your PR and social media agency from your peer group. Clearer than Q4 or the very turn of the year, you now know where to invest in internal resources to widen your portfolio of services, and the depth of the investment. You know the levels of management or staff appropriate for your growth, and the types of resources necessary to achieve programmatic success in the year ahead. It’s merely perspective that you haven’t had until February, which is why I believe the business year begins now.

What do you think? Does the perspective provided in February help you do more business?