Key Calendar Events and How to Use Them for PR
Each year is jam packed with events, from seasonal festivities, to trade shows, to the ‘season’ with its’ sporting and social calendar.
Identifying where and how you can make an event a stage for your business’s PR is a skill that requires some discernment, but done right, it can bring real value to your brand profile.
There’s no point stuffing your calendar full of events that you won’t be using, or that are only tenuously linked to you or your industry, but you also want to make sure you have a range of events in there that you can use in different forms. Think about including a selection from the following:
- Seasons – e.g: winter, summer, start of school holidays
- Festivals or religious holidays – e.g: Christmas, Eid al-Fitr, Easter, Holi, Chinese New Year, St Patrick’s Day, Halloween
- National and international business, social, political and sporting events – e.g: Davos, Wimbledon, Glastonbury, Paris Fashion Week, the National Budget announcement
- Trade shows and sector events
- Awareness days, weeks and months – National Apprenticeship Week, World Cancer Day, International Women’s Day, Stress Awareness Week, Plastic Free July, LGBT History Month (These require a slightly different kind of consideration and approach, so we will deal with these in more detail in a separate blog.)
What kind of events will your target audience be affected by, or interested in reading about? Social, sporting, political, business events? Double-check the dates each year, don’t assume it will fall on the same day as previous years. Also, check and note down if there are any themes or special focuses for an event that year that you can tie into the messaging and your strategy.
In line with your PR budget and resources, think about how much time you will have. You need to consider in what way you will be involved, as the strategy you select will depend on the kind of activity you are running for the event. Select the key ones you definitely want to be involved with and will have strong material for, and prioritise those for media contact. Then for the others, keep in hand and don’t forget to engage on social media or with a quick blog post where appropriate.
What do the media want to talk about? Research what has been said in previous years, what do your competitors do, and where is there a gap?
If your business is taking a front and centre role, by hosting its own event, with a high-profile presentation, or your CEO speaking, then an invite to journalists could be relevant. If the journalist is busy or you can’t invite guests, another option is offering a post-event summary of what was said, as well as your specialist insights. If your team is attending, providing services or launching a product, then inviting media or sharing a press release around your activities is another strategy to consider (although bear in mind product releases or promotional material will often be met with a request for payment to feature).
If you aren’t directly involved or attending, a well-done survey with interesting, unique statistics is a great way to set up engagement with the media (and can be set up as an annual activity driving engagement year after year). However, this can require significant time investment for planning and proper implementation. Another option is providing detailed insight and advice from your business that relates to the event . If undertaking a survey, or sharing business data, make sure to consider privacy, as well as the accuracy and scope of your data collection – it must be clear and relevant to the journalist you are pitching to.
If you don’t have anything to say beforehand, keep an eye out for stories that are released about the event and offer an expert response or opinion if relevant.
You generally need to be making contact with the press 1-3 months in advance of the event. Depending on the form of publication (online, print, local, national) lead times will be different. Check to see when your top publications or outlets have historically published stories on the event you are focusing on. Make initial contact well in advance to gauge their response to you providing material to them (but be ready to provide specifics on what you are offering) and also ask them what form of material would be of interest.
After the event, fully review all the coverage received and note how each publication/journalist responded to you. Check what is working and what isn’t. Every year prepare to review – you can’t rehash the same material and expect people to be interested. Think carefully about what you do and don’t let it get tired.