How to use national awareness days as a PR tool

Find out why national awareness days can be a brilliant PR tool for small businesses. And how to plan your calendar to make the most of them.

National awareness days were once the domain of the USA. However, in recent years they’ve become popular across the world, and even expanded to incorporate whole months.

Popular examples include International Women’s Day and World Book Day, and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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The downside, however, is that it can almost feel that there’s now an awareness day/week or campaign for everything! Talk Like a Pirate Day and Winnie the Pooh Day anyone? And as a result, journalists are becoming increasingly wary of commissioning stories around them.

So whereas fundraising on a national awareness day would have gained you social media (and possibly even press) exposure in years gone by, today it’s unlikely to get a mention.

Why YOU’RE the PR story, not the day

This doesn’t mean that national awareness days aren’t still a useful PR tool for small businesses. Instead, you just need to bear in mind that the awareness day itself is not a story – but your activity to mark it should be.

So rather than just roll out an unimaginative response to a national awareness day, you need to be creative and think how you can make it interesting and relevant to YOUR business and YOUR customers. Or add extra value.

For example, can you tweak Black Friday so it’s themed around your business? Such as Green Friday if you sell eco-friendly products? Or can you do some research and publish statistics or tips for businesses about the day?

Last year, The Independent published research showing that just 10% of British customers did their shopping in store on Black Friday, which meant that a huge 90% shopped online.

They also revealed that, while Black Friday is originally an American holiday, it has become one of the retailer’s favourites here in the UK, with Brits spending an estimated £1.23bn online that day.

You may not have the funds or reach to commission research of this scale yourself, but are there other ways you can generate or create interesting insights about your chosen national awareness days to share?

Want to get your story in the press? Find out how to write a professional press release

Plan well ahead

If you want to leverage a national awareness day or month for your business, it’s important to plan ahead – especially if you want to target the print media.

Glossy monthly magazines work three to four months ahead, national newspapers often six weeks ahead, while more local and regional media can take stories three weeks ahead.

So it’s wise to plan your PR in January and choose which national awareness days fit your strategy then. Select dates that have the most synergy with your brand, as many may be related to your niche, or of interest to your audience.

Once you’ve picked your national awareness days, brainstorm creative ways your business can support them, then identify the most appropriate PR plan to maximise your coverage.

Use social media to spread the word

While the main social media activity will take place for each national awareness day on the actual day, it’s important to plan your activity well in advance so you can schedule beforehand, then be ready to engage on the day.

Remember to use any hashtags for the day, so your content can be found. And again, DO be creative with your posts. Simply posting “Happy #InternationalWomensDay!” on Twitter isn’t going to gain you many retweets.

Instead consider how you can creatively use images or video, for example. (Making sure your logo and/or website are on them, so if they’re shared people will know they’re by you.)

Get yourself a national awareness day calendar!

To really get PR value from national awareness days, you need two calendars. A national awareness day calendar to plan which days are the best fit for your business. And a social media calendar, so you can plan content in advance and make sure you always have high quality information to share.

And remember to use social media analytics to help you understand what type of content your audience likes and responds to, and when they are reading them. So you can do more of what works.

Ready to plan your 2018 PR activity? Scarlett PR have put together a free national awareness days content calendar for you. Download your free copy here.

Photo by Cathryn Lavery