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Spring Cleaning for PR Pros

April 13, 2012

“Out with the old and in with the new” is a popular saying we typically hear around the New Year, but for PR pros, with year-end reports and annual planning meetings, the first of the year tends to be a busy time and “out with the old” doesn’t ever seem to happen.

As I was thinking about cleaning my closet this past weekend (noticed I said “thinking” and not “doing”) I thought spring would be the perfect time for some workspace housecleaning as well. Here are a few tips for PR pros to spring clean their world to be more organized, efficient and productive going into this sunnier season.

1. Email- The perfect place to start is with your inbox. Raise your hand if you have more than 10 unread messages? 50? 100? Ding, ding, ding. If you are like me, you mark messages “unread” as a reference so you can go back to them or remember to reply. But when you have 100 or more, it clutters your email box. Add to that every Google Alert, webinar invite, daily or weekly industry newsletter and you have a very full inbox. Over one week, plan to take 15-20 minutes each day to de-clutter your emails- file the ones you need, delete and delete some more (don’t forget your sent & draft folders too) and what you’ll be left with (hopefully) will be your most recent emails.

2. Media Contacts- As we all know, journalists move around. As much as I love to keep in contact with my media friends, their old email addresses aren’t helping me do my job. So take a look at your media contacts and find out who has left, who is now covering that beat and who is still there. A quick Google search or a look at their Twitter/Facebook page should tell you. Update their info. If they aren’t at an outlet that you would work with, but you always liked them professionally, connect with them on LinkedIn.

3. Client & Event Swag- My name is Courtney and I love client swag. Polo shirts, hats, helmets (thanks to Pop Warner) and bags are one of the potential benefits of our job. But like spring-cleaning your closet, you have to decide what you’re going to wear/keep, what to donate and what to ditch. Take a look in your drawers (and all those boxes under your desk) and make a decision. Goodwill is a great place to donate clothing and, of course, a colleague may just love that Breeders’ Cup black polo you have hidden in your drawer that you never wore. Create a bin at work and let the vultures pilfer. The interns will love you for it.

4. Publications- Even in this online world we live in, most PR pros still subscribe to daily newspapers, weekly magazines and industry publications. You may want to hold on to some for the sake of reference, but after a year’s worth of old magazines, you may be guilty of becoming a hoarder. If your desk is stacked with clips to scan and publications you were going to read, take some action. Give that stack of clips to the interns and go through your “must read” pile. Decide what you really are going to take the time to digest. Once you have a pile of magazines to get rid of, consider recycling them at a local recycling center.

Don’t you feel a bit lighter? It’s spring and that’s the time for turning over your wardrobe, putting those boots back in storage and getting excited about all the fun spring fashions. So if we apply that to our work life, it’s the perfect time to de-clutter our inbox and desks, update our contacts and get excited for all of the projects on the horizon. Final step, take a Clorox wipe across your desk and watch the shine come back into your life. Happy Spring Cleaning.

Photo: Jordan Polizzi