captureIt’s that time again where we take stock of all we’ve accomplished and all we wish we’d have accomplished, recharge with family and friends and set our sights on the new year.

I for one can’t wait, because let’s face it – 2016 was really, really weird.

Whether it was “good weird” or “bad weird” remains to be seen, but either way, as communications professionals we’re going to need to look at things differently in the new year, so let’s start with some resolutions.

1. Get Your Crisis House in Order

Bad things happen to the best of companies and if you haven’t done an honest assessment of your company’s readiness to respond, you’re living on borrowed time. A good place to start is taking PadillaCRT’s simple Crisis IQ quiz to see where you stand today.

2.  Seek Out Insights
As a communicator, one of the most important lessons in this past election was that we can’t make assumptions about what people think and how people will act. It cost one candidate an election and it made a whole host of pollsters and media pundits look a bit foolish. We can’t make that same mistake when it comes to our own campaigns and that means challenging ourselves to go beyond the basic research and really dig into insights for our audiences. Talk to them, ask them questions, live a day in their shoes – it’ll make all the difference.

3. Live Your Brand – Inside and Out
I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “be the person your dog thinks you are.” I think the same could go for our brands. Building a strong brand starts on the inside and if you want to be something remarkable to the outside world, you need to start by being remarkable inside your own company. Every brand building initiative should have an employee engagement component because without it, you’ll be selling a package with no present inside. Here are two articles from my colleagues Catie Frech and Lisa Kersey that offer some nice examples.

4. Look Outside Your Industry for Inspiration
I personally think too many companies spend too much time looking at what their competition is doing and not enough time looking at what’s happening in other industries. Healthcare can learn a lot from financial services.  Consumer products can learn a lot from agriculture. Technology can learn a lot from manufacturing. Legal can learn a lot from IT consulting. And let’s remember, a lot of these fields are blending like never before, so it makes sense for us to take advantage of that.

5. Invest in Yourself
With all of the changes taking place in our field, it can be daunting to keep up, but keep up we must. If we’re spending all of our time helping our companies and our clients and not spending time learning new skills and gaining new perspectives, we’ll burn out, we’ll miss opportunities, and we’ll be less valuable to the companies we work for. Step back and think about where you can be most valuable and then go to a conference, take (or teach) a class, read some books or magazines, or go out and experience something new. You and your clients will be the better for it.