With 2018 in the rear view mirror, we’re ready to grab our goals in 2019. Of course, it's important that communicators focus on the how they will succeed in the new year, and as PR professionals diversify their skill sets, two commons trends are rising to the top as must-haves: content development/creation and media measurement/analytics. Here are some tips to help you bring your content and analytics A-game to 2019 and lay a foundation for years to come.

Resolution 1: Remember Storytelling Essentials

Audience: Don’t forget your storytelling basics! The first step in developing a story is to think about audience. What does your audience care about? How will they benefit from hearing this story? These questions are the key to establishing your tone and angle. By making the “who” of your messaging one of your first considerations, your story strategy can begin to articulate and measure other goals in 2019. For example, if your audience is a young, tech savvy crowd, the content might reference pop culture trends and icons. Your team might also be interested in measuring how the story does on social media, a platform used by the majority of your target market. By pinpointing your audience early, you can tailor your message to reach those who would benefit from it the most.

Find a Voice and Keep it Simple: No matter your story, it’s always important to avoid “technical talk” or industry jargon. Because there’s not much time to be effective with a message, keep it simple and to the point. A good tip is to remember to speak your customer's language. If your target audience is unfamiliar with a concept like “blockchain technology” break it down for them. 2019 should be the year of clear messages that go further and are more evergreen for future content needs.

Be Credible: 2018 might have been the era of “fake news,” so in 2019, it’s always important to keep credibility in mind. Even if an organization is small or new, seeking tie-ins to national trends or integrating third-party statistics or data will show how their messaging fits into a larger conversation. These broad strokes will give you the context you need to remain relevant and accurate among other voices.

Think Visual and Un-Brand Your Content: The most memorable stories deliver engaging multimedia content, so remember to plan ahead. When you start developing a story, think of an iconic image that will drive your storytelling — what you have to include visually to make the story work. Once that’s locked down, you can start building original content around that central image. Of course, avoiding branded content is key in content marketing. Your story should seamlessly weave in brand presence without feeling like a corporate advertisement or that you’re overtly selling something.

Resolution 2: Think of Visual Storytelling as Toolkit

Most people have heard some version of “a picture is worth one thousand words,” but don’t ignore this age-old adage in the new year. On average, consumers remember only 30 percent of what they read but 80 percent of what they see. On social media, content with visuals pulls off the win again, as it’s 40 times more likely to be shared. In a world where audience engagement can make a huge difference in client goals, it’s important to be thinking of ways visuals can bring your content more exposure. 

Though it’s easy to hear “visuals” and think photos or videos, a team’s multimedia toolkit contains much more than these essentials. It’s important to pick the best option for your story, because your visual content won’t be one-size-fits-all. Your story might have one visual or multiple, but whatever you choose should always add to the story in some way, either by emphasizing a point, demonstrating a concept or adding backstory/context to a scene. Think outside the box. By pairing other options like virtual reality, infographics and motion graphics with the right stories, you can reinforce a brand’s message across platforms in new, interesting ways.

Resolution 3: Use T.R.I.C.K.S. of the Trade

Now that you have a toolkit, when you create multimedia content in 2019, think about these T.R.I.C.K.S. which will help you be more confident in the field and nail your visuals each time:

T - Think ahead. Being prepared promotes confidence and will help you maximize your time. Plan a shot list that will help you capture your iconic image. It’s easy to forget things in the field, so having a list will keep you on track. Don’t forget a back-up plan. Weather doesn’t always cooperate, batteries might die, but you should know what you can capture if things go south.

R - Reserve space. Find available rooms and book space as needed. Scout the location before the shoot to understand what backgrounds you’ll be working with. The last thing you want on any shoot is a lot of foot traffic or a noisy set. Arrive early to set up and adjust your shot. Make sure your background looks good, and know if you’re going to need to fill the space with props before you arrive.

I -   Insist on perfection. You only have one chance to get it right. Don’t turn on the camera and tune out. Watch closely for little things that could go wrong — things that you may not notice in the moment, but will throw off the whole video once you’re back in your office. Also, make adjustments! Your interviewee may be in a hurry, but if their desk is mess, they aren’t going to be happy when they see it later. They will appreciate you taking the extra minute to make them look even more professional!

C - Create a look. Put on your producer hat on and think creatively. Establishing a consistent visual identity for your brand or client is crucial to your job as a storyteller. Make sure you understand your audience. Put yourselves in their shoes — what do they want to see? How will they react? How do they want to see it? What about your brand — is it okay to be more lighthearted, or should it be more serious? And, as always, be creative and try to take it to the next level!

K - Know what to bring. This one is all about the gear. It’s not great when you arrive on location and find out you forgot headphones for audio or a mic or a light. Even if you don’t have access to high-end production equipment, there are still a lot of affordable options that can make your visuals looks more professional like mics, small lights and stands. Also, everyone is already equipped with a camera — your phone! If you’re planning on bringing any gear with you, practice setting up and breaking down before you’re in the field so you know how to troubleshoot any problems.

S - Sound like a pro. If you’re shooting video, make sure it’s happening in a quiet space. Use headphones to listen for room tone. For example, if you’re interviewing someone, don’t put them directly under an air vent. If you do, you’ll get noise picked up by the microphone. If you’re not sure whether or not the camera is picking up sounds, don’t be afraid to play it back before you wrap. Again, you only get one chance to get it right!

Pop the champagne! You made it! With these storytelling essentials, any communications pro can elevate their content to stand out from the crowd. With the right visuals and strategy, your content can set the trends in 2019 instead of following them.