A common refrain among companies is that they can’t get positive stories from media unless it’s for something really big like a major new product launch or a new facility opening. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Sure, big announcements can make great stories. It’s the small stories where the true PR pros really shine. The secret for these pros isn’t really a secret. Companies already have an important tool to success that they look at daily. They just need to look at it differently. That tool is a calendar.
When we start working with a client, the first thing we ask for is calendars because looking at what the company already has upcoming allows us to start building the PR calendar we intend to follow for the coming months. Beyond the obvious stuff (like launch dates or major conferences you’re attending), look deeper at the calendar to identify story opportunities.
Hard dates on the calendar.
Start by looking at the dates on the calendar that don’t change. Halloween, Christmas, July 4th, Valentine’s Day, all of these dates happen every year like clockwork. You have no excuse to claim you didn’t know they were coming, so the question is, how can you create an event around those hard dates?
For example, doing a story around Tax Day (April 15) is an obvious opportunity for a CPA firm. It could be last minute tax filing tips, or a story about how the company got all their filings done early so the entire office went out for lunch together on the filing deadline day since they had nothing to do because they’re simply so great at their job.
Another idea would be a care facility taking advantage of Valentine’s Day to focus on a couple that met and married at the facility or some other appropriate love story.
Media are always going to acknowledge hard dates on a calendar, and media are often looking for a unique way to talk about it. Find a way to insert your company within that hard date to increase your chances of generating a positive story for your organization.
Soft Dates on a Calendar
While the exact date each year might change, school always starts around the same time of year. The baseball season always starts around the same time of year. High School prom and graduation always happen around the same time of year. Take advantage of these annual events and identify a tie-in for your company.
For example, if you work for an air conditioning company, look up what days of the summer are historically the hottest, and watch the temperature. If you’re in Arizona, have a story ready to pitch for the first time that summer the temperature tops 110 (you’ll notice I didn’t say 100 because anyone in Arizona a few years will tell you that 100 isn’t considered that big a deal).
Scheduled Dates on the Calendar
Look at the events your company is scheduled to attend in the next year or any travel key staff may be making related to work. Take advantage of travel plans and other events to generate stories. For example, if your company is exhibiting at an event for disabled Veterans, identify some appropriate involvement stories or employees that are veterans that you can spotlight as part of your acknowledgement of that event.
Made up Dates
It seems like there’s a made-up date for everything. Talk Like a Pirate Day. March 14th is Pi (3.14) Day, May the 4th (be with you) is Star Wars Day. But there are also days, weeks and months for different issue topics. Construction Safety Week is in May. Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Do a search and read through the lists of all the different days, weeks and months. Identify any that could relate to your company or an issue that is consistent with the company’s values and find a way to be part of that calendar event.
There are story ideas everywhere if you’re willing to look for them. Start by looking at the calendar.
by Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations