As clichéd as it can be, January is an ideal time to think about the year ahead and opportunities for growth and development, whether it’s for personal or professional reasons.

To help you make your business stand out in 2016, we’ve pulled together our top five PR resolutions to ensure you meet your goals this year.

  1. Planning: As simple as it sounds, putting aside an hour to put together a 12 month planner of PR activities can bring a wealth of benefits for the rest of the year.Consider planning in press releases relating to business news – are you having a big birthday, working with a charity, hiring or promoting? These can all be turned into all-important, influential column inches with a little planning at the start of the year.
  1. Pictures: Think of photography as an absolute must when sending out a press release about your business – why miss out on having the chance of a bigger, better, story in the newspaper? You can read our top tips for creating great PR images here, but remember, pictures are great for social media content too. If you, or your colleague, is doing something interesting, you’ve had an exciting work delivery or have taken part in an event, snap a picture for immediate or future use on social media. You’ll soon have built up a bank of images which are useful for quieter days.
  1. Pro at social: We’re not suggesting you need to hire a dedicated person to handle your social media – great for large companies but less realistic for smaller businesses.As well as creating a social media planner to help keep on top of your content, platforms and online networking hours, ensuring a reliable staff member has embraced the responsibility of social media will help avoid mixed messages and tone of voice and ensure content is updated and kept fresh throughout the week.If a staff member is particularly social media savvy and keen to learn, consider investing in their training to keep their social media knowledge to the highest standard.
  1. Papers: Get to know your media – whether its your local newspapers to read about your neighbours and local community or industry press to find out news about your trade. Setting aside 10 minutes with your morning coffee is a great way to get a hold of the day’s news and utilising it through social media (why not congratulate the business down the road on an award win) or picking up on news you can provide comment on – most recently, have the Yorkshire floods affected your trading and have you found a way to overcome them?
  1. Putting yourself out there: Press coverage and social media is great for keeping consistent brand messages in your industry media and online, but we’re big advocates of good ol’ face-to-face networking Find out about local business events in your area, industry-specific exhibitions, speaking opportunities or even consider hosting your own event to meet new and old faces.Remember, the value of networking is not an immediate sale or signed contract, but putting a face to a name and being remembered.

Putting these five PR resolutions into practice from this month is a great way to feel in control of the year ahead and ensure your business stands out in 2016.