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Check the Calendar to Plan Marketing and PR Activity

by Janet Falk

Marketing and Public Relations professionals often look at the calendar to latch onto a timely news hook that will juice up a campaign or a story idea. This tactic may increase the likelihood of reader, reporter and editor interest. Here are a few ways to get started:

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Holidays: Look two months ahead and find a holiday that aligns with your business agenda. For LaptopMD, a center for repair of laptop computers and iPhones, it was New Year's Day. A pitch letter sent to local newspapers and television stations, Six Resolutions for Your Laptop featured pointers that would make your laptop run smoother and longer, merely by changing certain user behaviors. For example, Don't Drink and Drive, meaning keep liquids away from your laptop. However, if you spill a glass of OJ or water on your machine, here are instructions of what to do immediately, as recounted on TV.

National Whatever Month: Check the websites of National Calendar Day and National Whatever Day for an appropriate date to promote your business or cause. A bookseller might prepare for May 1, National Mother Goose Day, as a time to celebrate reading (and buying) books with nursery rhymes. A conservation nonprofit might remind its supporters of that same date to advocate for its cause: Save the Rhino Day. May is also a time to celebrate ethnic pride: South Asian Heritage Month and Jewish American Heritage Month, not to mention New Zealand Music Month, among others. The information in the two calendar websites overlaps, yielding even more possible dates of interest.

Anniversary: Look beyond the founding year of your company or organization to an established mega-event, such as Super Storm Sandy on October 29. In August 2003, in anticipation of New York area and global media interest in September 11, local and national media were contacted regarding a then-current museum exhibition of photographs of tattoos made in memory of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. The theme and pictures were picked up by Reuters, and the photographs were published in newspapers across the United States and around the world. The extended lead time made it easy for editors to review and select among the digital photos. Happily, there was a significant increase in attendance at the museum as a result of the media coverage.

Live News at a Scheduled Event: Occasionally, an ongoing event produces news that can be connected to your business. Monitor the activity and be alert for an opportunity to piggyback on the developing story. In the stadium hosting the 2013 Super Bowl, there was a brief power outage. During that period, a marketing professional at Oreo tweeted that it was still possible to enjoy the cookie by dunking it in the dark.

Cyclical Events: The Olympics and elections are held every even-numbered year. Leap years are calculated by multiples of four. The Census is conducted every 10 years. These events attract many promotional communications and it may be difficult to be heard in the cacophony. A creative approach to a lesser-known aspect of these events that relates to your services may help elevate your message above the crowd.

Through thoughtful analysis and preparation, calendars offer opportunities that are time-sensitive, as well as evergreen, or time-neutral. If International Juggler's Day and National Animal Crackers Day are on April 18, there definitely is a date that would be a good match for your business or nonprofit.

Janet Falk provides media relations and marketing communications services for nonprofits, small businesses and consultants. Her proactive communication campaigns help them achieve their goals through expanded contact with members, prospects, supporters and influentials. Follow her on Twitter @JanetLFalk.