This is a guest post from Jamie Wilson, Lead Publisher at Bottle PR.
Pitching a story to the media around an awareness day can sometimes feel a bit like planning your perfect New Year’s party: there’s a lot of pressure to have the best day ever but there’s always the risk that the expectation ends up greater than the reality. Oh, and don’t forget the FOMO – or in this case the fear of missing out to one of your competitor’s campaigns…
There’s no doubt that awareness days can provide brands with a timely hook to elevate a key message or align themselves with a particular topic or discussion. But with over 1,500 awareness days taking place over the course of a single year, identifying the ones that are worth your time and effort can be tricky and time consuming.
The biggest challenge you’re likely to face is working out the ones that journalists will be interested in covering that year. From the widely recognised household names like Mental Health Week, there are a few heavyweights that every editorial team will be aware of.
Then you’ve got the more humorous ones – the Gorgeous Grandma Days and the Lost Sock Memorial Days. Often designed to amuse and delight, these can make for great social content, but you shouldn’t be too quick to discount them as a possible media hook.
While you can’t predict which of the awareness days will be taking a journalist’s fancy, you can be your best PR-self and ask yourself a few important questions before creating an associated story.
Does the awareness day align with longer-term brand messages?
Inclusive PR isn’t about selling in stories at various points throughout the year because you want to be part of a wide-reaching conversation. It’s about building a brand that consistently shows a target audience what you stand for. Remember, the topics that are important to that audience are just as important to you as a brand. Many brands are being called out now for marketing rainbow-coloured products just to be associated with Pride Month. But in reality, the LGBTQ community seek support and recognition every day. Be selective with the awareness days you want to tell a story around and be certain it tallies up with your other PR activity.
What relevant assets do you have in your content bank?
The simple mantra to keep repeating to yourself is ‘do I have something new and exciting to offer?’. Too many brands simply jump on the bandwagon with lukewarm content that’s pre-destined to get lost in the noise. Remember, an awareness day is not a story in itself. Therefore, if you want a journalist to cover your content, you need to have something worth covering. This could be new research, the launch of a campaign, or simply doing something out of the ordinary.
What angle are the competitor brands likely to take?
You should also remember that you’ll be competing with other brands on the day. Therefore, preparation becomes key. Identifying the most important awareness days for your client should be first up on the agenda. Then beaver through what your competitors’ key PR messages have been in the last three months, say. With your PR head on, you can probably work out what theme they’ll write their story on, so you can sense-check you don’t double up (and worse, lose out).
Have I left enough time to nail this awareness day or am I panic-reacting?
Prep and pitch your story at least a couple of weeks in advance. This means you stand a better chance in cutting through on your chosen awareness hook. And of course, pipping those competitors to it. With that (good) story prepped, pitched and secured ahead of the day itself, not even a Hollywood actress or the latest politician fumble (as I almost lost out to around World Bee Day), can get in your way.
In such a crowded arena, and with no guarantee of success, pitching your story or campaign around an awareness day can be a daunting task. However, that’s not to say it won’t be worth it. On the contrary, a lot of homework and elbow grease, mixed together with a dash of good luck, can bring big results.
The lesson here: nailing a media story on a global awareness day takes serious graft. Give yourself as much time as possible: those few extra weeks can be make or break when it comes to long-lead journalists. Rest assured, though – with a truly unique story and the right preparation, the day will be one worth remembering!