If there’s one thing journalists notice, it’s news. And while a press release announcing your new book, latest product development, or business expansion is usually not enough to grab a reporter’s attention, a socially relevant and timely angle is. But what if you can’t find an occasion of consequence to connect your company to? No problem. Simply create your own and promote it, using these two simple steps.
Submit an Event to Chase’s Calendar of Events
The celebratory center of September may be Labor Day, but the month also contains a whole bonanza of interesting events, including International People Skills Month, International Enthusiasm Week (September 1–7), and National Punctuation Day (September 24). While these may not sound sexy, some smart public relations executive cleverly created each one.
According to Chase’s Calendar of Events: The Ultimate Go-to Guide for Special Days, Weeks and Months, there are more than 12,000 entries, covering 194 countries and 365 days. One example: Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore designated July as National Cell Phone Courtesy Month and, over the past few years, she has received wide coverage in USA Today, CNET, and other media outlets.
The following are a few things to consider when creating and promoting an event for your business:
- Has anyone else created a similar event or holiday? Check with Chase’s to see if your idea has already been spoken for. If it has, brainstorm event names and approaches that cover the same topic but are different enough to avoid confusion. For example, Chase’s lists Customer Loyalty Month (April), National Thank Your Customers Week (January 7), and Get to Know Your Customer Day (January 17).
- What type of event would best fit your topic? Should the occasion you fashion be fun and playful or serious and profound? Is a day dedicated to your topic more suitable than a week, or does the subject warrant a full month of focus? The more appropriate you make your event to the theme of what you want to promote, the more seriously it will be taken. For example, Wear Red Day (February 1) seems more appropriate than an International Wear Red Month, which might be a bit over the top.
- Keep the deadlines for submissions in mind. The book for 2010 is closed, but Chase’s Calendar of Events will begin accepting ideas for the 2011 edition beginning October 1, 2009. You can submit an event free of charge.
Promote with a Press Release
Just creating an event is only half the story. Once your event is set up and ready to go, create a marketing plan to put all your promotional ducks in order. Take the following steps:
- Put up a dedicated page on your Web site that contains basic information about the event 90 days before it takes place. Information should include the date and purpose of the event, relevant details, tips, and story ideas the media can pick up, and a copy of the press release.
- Three to four weeks before the event, write and distribute a press release announcing the occasion. Make sure your press release is heavy on content and tips and light on fluff and promotion. If your story has national or international significance, you can e-mail the release (without attachments) to the Associated Press. Also consider target e-mailing your release to niche blogs or publications that would be interested in your event. One caution: Avoid spamming by only sending the release to those outlets where you have a contact or their audience would be a great fit for your occasion.
- Be sure to contact the appropriate editor at your town newspaper and let him or her know you are the inventor of this event. Many smaller papers have a section where they profile locals in the news.
Karen Leland is the president of Sterling Marketing Group and the author of Time Management in an Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day and the blog As Soon as I Finish Carving the Ice Sculpture: True Confessions of an Overachiever.