It’s been a funny year, a good year, but it’s not been without its challenges.

I started 2019 feeling awesome from my strongest year in 2018. Strongest financially and some of the most meaningful and best work I’ve ever done. I reviewed 2018 and set some goals for 2019.

Reviewing what Aura is and does

Once again, as I do most years, I sit down and have a hard look at how Aura is positioned, what it means to clients and how it can grow to be more meaningful. As I say a lot just now, “brands are turning into people and people are turning into brands”. It’s with that thought, that I went back to basics and evolved the Aura brand with a new identity and brought all the different elements of my offering together.

My offering has gone beyond servicing clients and delivering campaigns, it’s even gone beyond consulting alone. I have evolved Aura to be a consultancy for both clients and for my own industry. My impartiality and innovative approach to solving problems has opened more doors and requests for more learning activities have been aplenty this year. So, the Aura Academy was launched, offering bite-sized learning opportunities for junior to mid-level practitioners at affordable prices. All of the learning is based on my own professional development learning and of course my 19+ years’ experience.

PRFest

I’ve also had a six-month period wondering what and how I can shake up PRFest for 2020. In its fifth year, it needs to have grown up and evolve its model to continue to sustain interest and appeal to public relations and communication professionals every year. So for 2020, it’s a one-day event and a completely different format! I announced the theme last week, Purpose Over Profit, and have made good strides developing the concept.

My thinking is much more about the people who attend rather than what they need to know, to start with. The content can come after, but the needs of those people come first. All will be revealed next year!

Networking struggles

I’ve also leaned back towards one-to-one networking. Having stepped back from most of my CIPR roles (Board and Council), I don’t have the same constant contact anymore and it was always within a PR bubble, so I have been looking for quality ways of connecting with people and meeting them for coffee. I still find it hard to find quality group networking events which suit me. I’m not the type to go to the opening of an envelope! I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for me, given I’m targeting senior, board-level professionals. What great networking events exist in Scotland?

Resources

Part of my plan for 2019 was to develop more resources for other people to learn from or use. One of the resources is my podcast, People Buy People, which I launched in the summer. It features business owners who have a real story to tell – facing challenges and overcoming them. You can subscribe on any of the usual platforms!

In addition, I was hoping to get my AuraTalk e-zines back up and running, but I instead decided to blog more often. I then, just this month, launched two free e-guides for anyone looking to review their year and another guide to plan for 2020. All the content is around goals, breaking down success and identifying a strategy to reach the goals. You can get your FREE guides if you subscribe here.

Successes

Sir Stephen Tallents Medal 2019It’s important to celebrate every success. Sometimes they come in waves, sometimes they are non-existent! That’s life. This year, I won the PRCA Dare Awards Consultant of the Year again in Scotland and I was extremely honoured to have been awarded a very special award, the Sir Stephen Tallents Medal, by the President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Emma lLeech, at its AGM, for the time and effort I dedicate to the institute. I gave quite an emotional speech, which was not planned and certainly wasn’t anticipated, talking about my passion for the industry and the movement towards a predominately Chartered profession. I really was very honoured and thought about the negative comments my school had said when I left, aged 15, to go into further education and not stay on and go into higher education! *blows raspberry*

I often question entering awards, especially as I judge so many industry awards and know the ins and outs. If you have a team, it’s great for them to see wins and celebrate, but when it’s just yourself, what’s the point? Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that no-one else will enter you, you need to have faith in yourself and your work and your clients will be pleased for you if you win. It’ll reinforce why they chose you. The time and money that goes into entering however, means it is limiting to enter many awards annually. It’s not inclusive or accessible and I do question the credibility of some. That’s for another day!

What’s next?

2020 is in just over two weeks and I’ve got some time off after this week, to chill out and rest, before hitting 2020 HARD!

My training workshops are all organised up until March, so I need to plan out the content for them over the holiday. I’ll also need to think about how I further promote the opportunities to learn, a handy guide perhaps, listing all the dates and learning outcomes? If you’ve got any training or learning requirements, whether it’s for a group or just for yourself, please do drop me a note.

I’ve got a new client which I have just finished an audit for, and I’ve got a call this week to agree my proposed strategy. That means come 2020, we’ll get the activity plan done and we’ll be off! It’s a nice piece of brand development and then quite specific targeting using a blend of paid, owned, shared and earned.

2020 will be a busy year but I am still open to working with more corporate clients on:

Laura Sutherland - alter ego - PR superhero> stakeholder engagement

> risk and crisis planning (this is a huge area of work I’m concentrating on, as many organisations realise they have no research or planning done and have no idea if the plan they have written, will work!)

> audit, research and strategy development (you cannot write strategy without doing the audit and research. You need the insight to inform the strategy)

> brand development (and I don’t simply mean a logo. I mean how your brand is represented everywhere. The look, the feel, what it says to different audiences etc)

> professional development for PR and communication professionals (this is so important for any professional. An annual plan is the best way to achieve goals)

Please get in touch if you’d like to work with me.

People do buy from people and they buy into people and they respect and trust people. Personality and values have so much to count for in business. All of my work centres around this ethos, making my strategies more engaging, relevant and meaning organisations are able to confidently reach their full potential.

In summary, the point of my post wasn’t to boast about success, but it was to present my year and talk about my own challenges and how I’ve overcome them. Mostly, it’s to do with thinking!

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new Year!