We know things will be different in 2013. Already, we know tight budgets will be further tightened, and those of us providing services and solutions to the federal government will need to be more focused on the value we can deliver and problems we can solve to help our customers move forward in the new landscape.

Since we know changes are coming, now is a great time to assess your organization’s public relations and marketing strategies for the New Year, to make sure you’re answering your customers’ questions and concerns. And you want higher visibility and awareness, to ensure they can find you when they need you in 2013.

Public relations is hands down the best bang for your buck – it is the single most powerful tool in any organization’s marketing communications arsenal. If it’s not in your arsenal, 2013 is the perfect time to take advantage of this influential tool. Consistent, focused PR educates your audience on the solutions you provide to help solve their problems; a results-driven PR campaign builds name recognition and brand awareness, helping you expand your organization’s sphere of influence. Here are five tips to consider when planning your PR campaign for the year ahead.

1. Think through your business goals and objectives for 2013. You should be ambitious about where you want to be in a year and how much you would like to grow, while also making sure your goals are attainable. Then align your PR goals with your business goals. Want to expand your thought leadership presence? Grow a specific vertical market? Defining your goals helps you clearly identify where PR can provide support and ‘air cover.’

2. Define the PR/marketing actions needed to achieve your goals and objectives. It’s important to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in twelve months, and you need to ensure that your actions truly support your goals. For example, if you want to grow a specific vertical market, you want your PR effort to focus on the media and events that serve that specific market.

3. Review the past year’s successes and efforts that were especially effective in communicating your message. Integrate these initiatives into next year’s campaign, as well. You want to continue to nurture and leverage these successes to ensure continuity and consistency.

4. Establish metrics to be achieved. What’s reasonable to expect with resources committed? Remember, consistency is key, so an important element is securing feature articles that truly tell your story throughout the year, not just clustered around an important event. Want spokespeople quoted in the press? Work with your PR team to define the metrics that make sense with your level of effort and commitment, then put them in writing, and track results.

5. Spend time with friends and family. You have been working hard all year long, so take an opportunity to relax and appreciate what your hard work has brought you over the past year, and re-energize and refocus for the New Year – a year of exciting challenges and new opportunities!

Sandy Levine is President of Advice Unlimited LLC, a Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) providing strategic communications, public relations, and marketing for government organizations and high tech companies selling to the government. She can be reached at [email protected]