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Planning a PR calendar is one of those jobs that tends to fall to the bottom of the list. When you’re running a business, there’s enough to keep you busy, right?
But putting aside an afternoon to get together an annual PR calendar can save you a ton of time in the long run. And it helps you to make the most of every PR opportunity that crops up throughout the course of the year.
So how do you go about planning an annual PR calendar? Here are a few of our top tips:
Find a Template
Your first job is finding a template that you can use. You can use an Excel spreadsheet, a standard paper calendar or browse PR calendar templates online. Whatever you choose should be easy to access, especially if you have team members who will all need to consult it.
Add Recurring Annual Events
Whilst you may be thinking – “Duh! I know when Valentine’s Day is” – having the date written into your PR calendar will help you to remember it’s coming up. The same goes for Christmas, New Year, Bonfire Night, Easter, the start of the school summer holidays… And events that are relevant to your business – for instance Wimbledon or London Fashion Week. We have summarised all of the yearly event for you here.
Add Awareness Days, Celebrations and Anniversaries
Be sensitive if you are going to piggyback on a socially or politically delicate issue. But sometimes an awareness day chimes really well with your product. Equally, knowing when big anniversaries or celebrations – like National Chocolate Day (yes! It really exists!) – are going to fall can let you plan a really savvy PR campaign.
Journalists always want to know why your story is relevant now. And social media followers are much more likely to engage with topics that are already trending. So having these days in your calendar helps you to pitch or plan something really topical at just the right time.
Add Industry Events
Industry events are a great opportunity for PR. Sponsoring, speaking at or exhibiting at the right events can give your business a ton of exposure. Put these dates in your calendar. Even if you’re not 100% sure that you’ll want to attend, having the dates to hand will help you decide which to include and exclude from your schedule.
Add Significant Events Related to your Business
Don’t forget to add dates that are significant for your own business over the coming year. It could be a new product launch. Or the anniversary of a particular range. Or a workshop event you’ve been planning. Anything that you’re planning to shout about.
Add Lead Time Dates
So now you have a whole list of dates to create great hooks for your press releases. But you can’t pitch to journalists on these dates as they will have finished their articles. You have to work in advance so you get the journalist when they are writing on the stories. Monthly Magazines typically work 3 months ahead so you need to be prepping your stories 4 months ahead 5 or 6 months for Christmas!). So write this in your diary, and then again 2 months before the date for the weeklies and supplements and 1 month for bloggers.
you turn the page of your PR calendar and you’re surprised to find that the 1st May marks the start of e reminders into your calendar at least a few months before the deadline actually comes round.
Whilst having a PR calendar really helps you to map out your ambitions and your content for the year, it shouldn’t be written in stone. Sometimes PR opportunities come out of nowhere and it pays to be reactive. Update your calendar as the year unfolds and allow yourself some wriggle room in case something exciting comes along.
The best PR isn’t rushed. Planning an annual PR calendar will help you to meet deadlines comfortably. You won’t be scrabbling around last minute to get content together for Mother’s Day. You won’t miss out on that big industry event. And you’ll have the time to maximise your content and its engagement, making your PR efforts much more effective.
Press Loft has a monthly PR calendar to help you easily plan your own PR activity – request a free trial here (open only to users who haven’t already tried Press Loft).
Feel free to get in touch if you would like to talk to someone at Press Loft about your PR! We would be happy to tell you a bit more about how Press Loft can help!