In preparing for my wedding anniversary this month, one of my tasks was to pick out a card at the store. Staring at the shelves there were lots of card options, yet many of them seemed familiar. I found myself trying to make sure that I didn’t purchase a card that I had already given her previously.
From a work perspective, it’s similar to pitching an event to media on an annual basis. It’s okay to do the same successful media event year-after-year, just like it is okay to give an anniversary card to your spouse every year. You simply don’t want to always give the exact same card.
Let me share an example. Years ago I was the Public Information Officer for an ambulance service provider. Every year in May, the industry celebrates national EMS Week where Paramedics and EMTs are acknowledged and thanked by the company and the public.
We were able to receive excellent media coverage by hosting an event where reporters and videographers got to drive an ambulance on a closed course. We had a bunch of drills like serpentine through cones, tire spotting, etc. for them to complete. During the driving demonstrations, we had the opportunity to talk about our amazing employees and to explain the extensive training each EMT driver completed before they were allowed to drive the ambulance on real roads and in emergency situations.
The media loved it, and several stations did stories. Some did multiple segments throughout the morning newscasts live. All the coverage talked about thanking employees during EMS Week and that driving an ambulance is harder than it appears and requires a lot of training.
The next year we wanted to offer ambulance driving event again, but we were worried about doing the exact same story. So we made a minor change. This time instead of media driving the ambulances, we invited Mayors and elected officials. We even had an informal contest between some of the municipalities. The elected officials loved it. Media loved it too, as the elected officials driving gave them excellent visuals and each interviewed politician thanked our crews on camera for all that we do for their local community and its residents.
The third year we came up with yet another variation, inviting sports team mascots to drive the ambulances. Media enjoyed this too, even though most mascots literally couldn’t fit behind the wheel. Instead we had to make up an obstacle course and different types of games for them to do and interact. Reporters loved it—especially as the mascots wrapped up the reporter in gauze and other medical supplies on camera as part of their reporting.
My point is that it’s okay to do the same basic thing every year when it’s a crowd pleaser that gets the desired result. The key is making a slight tweak to the annual plan to keep it fresh and fun. It’s the thought that counts.