3 things every media leader needs to do before the New Year

It is almost the end of the year. In newsrooms worldwide, it is traditionally a time to look back at the year that was.

Get ready for those “highlights of the year” packages, reflecting on everything from the best pictures of the year to the most controversial quotes.

As a media leader, take the time to do the opposite. Take this time of the year to focus on the year that lies ahead. Get your plans for 2016 in place so you can hit the new year running.

Here are three things you can do to ease yourself into the new year:

  1. Create a personal development plan.

    It took me a while to realise I have high expectations from everyone around me with measurable outcomes, but when it comes to my own career, I had just about nothing in place to measure my own progress.

    I don’t simply mean an answer to the dreaded “What is your five-year plan?” question that pops up during interviews. Think on a deep personal level what it is that you would like to achieve in 2016.

    Identify three or four goals, break them up in measurable pieces, and spread them over 12 months. Slot the monthly goals into a personal diary, and make sure to revisit them every month, adjusting your goals to the reality of work/life and aligning them to make sure you will reach the achievement you have set for yourself.

    This is not a New Year’s resolution. It is a well thought out and practical plan to ensure personal growth. Make sure you don’t only stipulate what it is you are going to do, but also how you plan to do it. For instance, if you want to be more visible on social media, think about how you want to do it.

    Do you need to attend a course to help you understand Twitter? (You can also just follow Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at the Metropolitan Art Museum at @sree for great advice.) Do you need to set yourself a goal in terms of how many tweets you send out every day and link them to the number of followers you want to have by the end of each month? Do you understand that it is relationships you are building and not just blank numbers you are chasing?

    I’ve set a goal for myself at the beginning of 2015 to “read a book every month.” Looking back, it should have been “read 12 books in 2015,” which is much more realistic. The reality of work created a situation where I had more time to read during certain months of the year and less during others. The good news is that I have managed to read 19 books up to now (and I’m looking forward to find time in December to finish at least one more)!

    Here is the thing: Pace yourself. Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t achieve your monthly goal, but adjust your year-end goal realistically according to your work schedule.

    Pacing yourself is nothing other than self-management, a crucial key to success. Read more about this in this article by Jim Collins, in which he explains “The 20 Mile March” and ask yourself what journey you have planned for yourself for 2016.

  2. Set the news agenda.

    Does your news outlet play catch up or do you set the news agenda?

    The world is drowning in information. What does your newsroom do to make sense of it all? Do you have the right people in the right places to interpret, analyse, and edit?

    Think about this when you take out some time to look at 2016. Identify the predictable occasions when you are going to need a team of journalists, designers, and developers to set the news agenda. Ask yourself if there is any commercial value to unlock with regards to the occasion. Should you arrange an event to go with the news to add value to your audience?

    Amber E. Boydstun wrote in her book Making the News about the way the media sets the news agenda. She concludes that the media have two modes: an “alarm mode” for breaking stories and a “patrol mode” for covering them in greater depth.

    With this in mind, try to identify the big news events of the year and do some planning to see how your team can add value and depth.

  3. Get some rest.

    It has been a long and exhausting year. You gave your best, but now it is time to rest. Recharge your batteries so your team gets what they deserve when 2016 kicks off: a well-rested, energized, and focused leader.

    While you have some time, why not try to form a new habit or two that will enable you to be more productive in the new year? Travis Bradberry gave this advice in a recent article, promising it will boost your energy and self-control.

    The part I liked the most is this quote by Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Do the most difficult thing first thing in the morning.

    Creating a personal development plan, plotting a map to setting the news agenda, and investing some time in yourself is all but difficult. In the high pressure environment we work in, we tend to focus on the present and the urgent. Take some time out to focus on the future and the important.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
– John F. Kennedy in his State of the Union Address, January 11, 1962

About Johanna van Eeden

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