Leveraging Holidays, Observances, and Trends.
Every day, week, and month of the year is a holiday or observance celebrating something — just check one of the many calendar websites to discover whether it’s National IT Professionals Day (September 20) or National Donut Day (June 3). Of course, some of these are more widely recognized than others, like next month’s Employee Appreciation Day (March 13), while others have grown more popular and gained widespread recognition like Juneteenth (June 19), which is now a federal holiday, and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October).
In PR, an effective way to garner attention for a client or reach a community is to leverage them in a way that allows you to reach your audience. The term "newsjacking" has become popular to describe leveraging clients, topics, or spokespeople during current events or breaking news cycles. For observances and holidays, it’s good to plan "pre-newsjacking” — that’s when account leads try to figure out what reporters may write about during a certain time of year based on these celebrations and/or seasonal trends and pitch those ahead of time.
One of our clients, Sallie Mae, is the leader in helping students and parents make better decisions about planning and paying for college. Account lead Laura Beth Telep always tries to track key observances during the calendar year to pitch reporters on "news you can use" pieces for Sallie Mae. For example, National Scholarship Awareness Month is in November, so she starts pitching Sallie Mae's data and Scholarship Search Tool in October to create timely stories. Also in the fall, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application opens up on October 1. So she aims for pitching relevant Sallie Mae data and spokespeople in September to get a jump on the FAFSA awareness stories.
While creating a communications campaign in tandem with a related observance is a fairly widespread tactic used across industries, what can bring these campaigns to the next level? When tying campaigns to observances to create something meaningful, it's crucial to build a plan that can be extended beyond the shelf-life of a day-, week-, or month-long observance.
Clyde Group’s Heidi Becker recently worked with a client based in the Pacific Northwest to create an initiative geared toward generating awareness of the mental toll wildfires can take on wildland firefighters. The campaign launched in May, coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month, Wildfire Awareness Month, and the start of wildfire season. The observances provided a platform for education and resources to firefighters and their families about issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and addictions, and firefighter suicides. While the effort was launched in May to align with these two observances, it also extended throughout the whole year, making it a full-fledged campaign that provided much-needed resources and support to the firefighters beyond the observances themselves.
Other health-related awareness months frequently appear on clients’ observance calendars — especially clients whose goal is to reach communities, not just the media. One of Clyde Group’s many healthcare clients, which aims to engage populations who are underrepresented in medical research, utilizes observances to honor those communities while connecting to them, too. Each February, Clyde Group’s Samantha Santoro and Emma Kelly, help this client celebrate Black History Month by developing social media tool kits, graphics highlighting Black researchers, and many other assets that can be shared with local communities. These provide a great way to engage with these communities in a meaningful way while connecting them back to the client.
Another Clyde Group client, the global polling and research firm Ipsos, releases its LGBT+ Pride Global Survey in time for Pride Month in June. The 2021 report was a comprehensive look at attitudes toward LGBTQ+ rights across 27 countries, how individuals define their gender identity and sexuality, and the levels of exposure to LGBTQ+ people in life and media. In promoting it, Ipsos’ goals were to maximize the visibility of the report, elevate Ipsos’ standing among its global competitors, and ensure coverage that provided high-quality analysis of many facets of the data.
With such a large volume of data, Clyde Group needed to identify the right journalist at the right outlet who would elevate the findings. After some deep research, the account lead, Joe Connelly, identified Julie Moreau, a contributor at NBC and Professor of Political Science and Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. Her experience in academia and reporting made her the perfect candidate to write a deep, data-driven piece about the Ipsos findings. Moreover, partnering with NBC provided the possibility of syndicated coverage at local affiliates, further boosting the visibility of Ipsos and its research.
In May 2021, a month before Pride Month kicked off, Clyde Group pitched Moreau on writing an exclusive for NBC and facilitated several interviews between Moreau and Ipsos Senior Vice President Nicolas Boyon to discuss the findings. Clyde Group and Ipsos’ efforts culminated in NBC running an exclusive story of over 1,500 words in June that was tagged to Pride Month celebrations and included numerous quotes from Boyon adding color and analysis to the data. This piece was syndicated across several NBC affiliates and high-impact outlets like Yahoo! News, MSN, and AOL, and was also shared more than 10,000 times across Twitter and Facebook. Following the publication, Clyde Group conducted broader outreach around the survey to drive additional coverage and engaged our partners at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to further amplify the research later during Pride Month.
These are just a few examples of how tying a client's news or activities to the right observance or trend can result in larger, amplified impact across all media channels. All it takes is some advance planning and scouting out potential dates on the calendar that line up with the client’s topic and objectives. With these combined efforts, clients can amplify their coverage and increase awareness in a much larger way than if they were sending their information out into a tag-free vacuum. So check the calendar and find those days, weeks, and months that will make your client’s work relevant at the right time — and then watch the results grow.