Streamlining Your To-Do-List and Adding Value

Last spring I took a unique class in grad school called Show Me the Money: The Financial Side of PR. That class, taught and developed by Dave Meeker, a truly respected PR professional, opened my eyes. In addition to learning some basic business sense, Meeker hammered home the importance of connecting public relations activities directly to an organization’s bottom line.

Although at first glance, I know many of those in non-profits will think “what does this have to do with us?” Well, just about everything. Even though non-profits aren’t working for a “profit”, so to speak, they have a definite bottom line, whether it be cash, people, resources, etc.

Non-profits can be chaotic at times. Short staffs, small budgets and tight deadlines sometimes create situations where employees are just getting through a day by checking off their to-do-lists. If a PR professional ever had a chance to slow down and examine his or her to-do-list, he or she probably could trim a lot of fat.

Like I’ve mentioned so many times, non-profits have limited resources. Why waste them on trivial activities with little impact. So this week’s lesson, do less work and get better results. Who could complain about that?

Now before you start running around the office shouting with glee because you don’t have to create an annual report this year, hold on. There are some steps you must complete before giving projects the axe.

Have everyone in the department list all their projects, big or small. After compiling the department list you may be surprised at how many and what type of activities appear. To go even further, have employees record how much time they spend on each activity. Go through each item and ask “Does this activity contribute to the bottom line? If so, how?” Separate the list by items that do and items that don’t directly contribute.

Take a closer look at each item, whether you deemed it to contribute or not. Consider why each activity takes place. Is it because it’s essential to business or because the CEO thinks it’s cool? Rank each item by importance and then rank each item for how much time and effort goes into it.

At this point, you should have a pretty good idea at the activities that contribute to the bottom line. You should be able to identify the resource zappers from the valid projects. Now, go through the list of items that don’t contribute. Are there activities that need to stay on the list for some reason (unfortunately your CEO thinking they are “neat” may be one of them)? If they need to stay, consider how you can modify the activity to contribute or at least be less of a drain.

Let Go

Inevitably there will be items that no one understands why you still do them. Just because you’ve done them for 20 years isn’t a valid reason to keep doing them. Use this activity as a cleansing opportunity and let go. Crossing off an activity for good can be a real morale booster, not to mention a friend to the budget.

As public relations professionals, being good communicators is a given. However, our real worth shines through when our activities align with the overall business goals. Doing less work can be a good thing, especially when you shift your focus to the bottom line.


1 Response to “Streamlining Your To-Do-List and Adding Value”

  1. 1 Kristin Hardy April 24, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    I think that this post has a lot of insight. It is amazing at how many things need to be looked at in a financial aspect to become more successful. Setting goals, or having a to-do-list can really put things into perspective and make it easier to see what needs to be done. And the bottom line is a very important focal point which, when made the most important thing to look at, seems to have everything else in front of it fall in line.

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