At the start of each new year, public relations and marketing professionals receive countless lists and guides, each claiming to offer critical knowledge and insight about the year ahead. We are told that if we pay close enough attention, we too can be innovative and cutting-edge. But, with so many outlooks and predictions, how do you navigate the maze and understand which trends matter most?

While we don’t have a crystal ball to tell us if artificial intelligence will really revolutionize PR and marketing or if the Internet of Things will truly change the customer journey forever, we can tell you that some things simply aren’t as important as they are made out to be.

Below is a list of the top three things NOT to pay attention to in 2017:

Don’t Feel Compelled to Master Every New Channel: Simply because something is new, it doesn’t mean it deserves our undivided attention.  

As PR and marketing professionals, it is our job to seek out, understand, and capitalize on emerging trends for our clients. We constantly see and read about new channels, each one supposedly better than the last. We spend time trying to master at least one before another wave of new options is introduced. But many of them won’t matter to us in the long-run and some may not even be around much longer. So is this really the best use of our time?  

Be judicious about how much effort, energy, and resource is spent on exploring new channels.

Take the time to learn which ones actually matter to your audience, don’t just jump on whatever is new and popular. Figure out which channels truly help impact the bottom line, rather than focusing on channels where vanity metrics look good.

Only The Data That Helps You Prove Your Point: Use data intelligently to get smart results.

There is increasingly more data available about PR and marketing campaigns. With just a click of a button, we are given access to information that used to take days or weeks to uncover. We can review audience behavior, extract valuable insights, and optimize our campaigns in less time than it takes to catch up on our favorite show.  And, perhaps most importantly, data has changed the way we approach our jobs and allowed us to directly prove the value of our efforts.

With so many advantages, it’s easy to see why we rely so heavily on data-driven decision making. But we must be careful about how we treat and interpret data. We must look at what the information is telling us, instead of just falling into common traps, such as confirmation bias, where we use data to confirm the story we want to tell. By going back to the basics, pairing qualitative and quantitative data together, looking for statistical significance, and ensuring that we have truly representative samples, we can make better short- and long-term decisions.  

Haters: Don’t pay attention to the noise.  Not everyone is going to agree with your PR and marketing strategy and you may encounter naysayers. It’s important to be thick skinned, but equally as important to listen. 

Find out what exactly it is that critics don’t like. Is there an issue with your product or service, maybe something you weren't even aware of? Is there something you can do to help improve their experience or perception?  By understanding who your audience is and listening to both positive and negative feedback, you can gain critical insight into how your brand is actually perceived and catch small issues before they become larger crises.

In today’s rapidly changing environment, it can be challenging to determine how and where to focus your energy.   In 2017, resolve to figure out what you need to pay attention to, and what might not be as important. Because if you do, you’ll have more time for what matters most. 

Written by Amy Jaick, Executive Director of GMI Digital at Goodman Media. For more on how we think, click here.