With the most recent flip of the calendar last Friday, I was reminded of how little time remains in the fall semester and how much work is still to be done before the end of 2013. In higher education, November can be a particularly busy and stressful time, with long year-end to-do lists and lots of time-consuming holiday-related distractions.
 
I feel fortunate this year, however, to have started November feeling energized, rather than anxious. For me, November hit on the heels of an amazing few days of meetings on a university campus. Almost immediately after meeting in person with various faculty and administrators, we had a list of new story ideas and expertise that could be tied into upcoming news events. Rather than feeling stuck in that end-of-semester rut I had experienced in prior years, I felt excited and motivated to start pitching some truly fantastic stories for the remainder of this year and into 2014.
 
I’m the first to acknowledge that it’s difficult to make time for story mining, and I know that calendars don’t have a lot of open slots this time of year, but meeting with people over a cup of coffee (or in my case last week, a burrito), can reap big rewards. It’s at our busiest times that identifying new stories and building new campus relations can be most important—for our own professional development, for our faculty’s and institutions’ reputations, and, for our personal well-being in a time of high stress.
 
My campus experience last week reminded me to approach this time of year as an opportunity to close out 2013 with a bang of big media hits, rather than a burden, with items to be ticked off a list. I highly encourage making time this month not only to catch up with “tried and true” story sources and journalists, but also to get to know some new people. After all, good media relations is truly dependent on relationships, and it’s hard to keep relationships strong when you’re hunkered down at your desk. Setting aside an hour a week this November to focus on building and strengthening relationships will be time very well spent.