Startup PR is usually susceptible to changes that arise from unexpected circumstances. As such, most of them feel that they are incapable of hiring a PR specialist to help them create a PR calendar. Some startups even think that they should not be spending their resources both financial and non-financial on marketing their products. This is a huge mistake. It is understandable that the company is a small business and at the earlier stages of development but should not underestimate the importance of PR and product marketing. It is no secret that for the startup to grow and succeed there must be a powerful marketing and PR strategy as well as a few other things that will give the company the improvement it needs as effectively as the media coverage.
A PR calendar is one of the most valuable tool for any organization especially for startup companies as it helps to monitor what needs to be done and when to do it. It helps to keep track of the main events and milestones that show momentum and advancement. This should therefore be considered as a continuous process rather than a one-time activity. Startups may begin by setting out a basic list of news releases that needs to be released throughout the year. Whether a company’s event is weekly, monthly or even annual, some things can be forgotten, and the event is likely to miss important media opportunities.
The calendar plans out the news releases for the year in advance and serves as the company’s initial structure and a schedule that can be adhered to throughout the year in order to stay focused on the PR goals. This helps to provide focus and consistency to the company’s PR strategy. For startups, the PR goal is to ensure that the public and the media are well informed about an upcoming event. In the case of the public, last minute PR push can be very useful. On the other hand, media companies have procedures and deadlines and may require lead time to include the company in their editorial calendar. A PR calendar is therefore created to make sure that nothing gets forgotten during the PR planning and preparation processes. Below are seven tips for creating a successful PR calendar:
1. Goal Setting
The public relations goals should serve as the foundation of the PR calendar. They should influence what is to be published and when. The goals should be developed based on the most suitable method that works for the company, and they must be written and measurable. The goals highlight the theme, the media outlets targeted and the type of news to be created. For instance, if a goal is to draw customers, it should demonstrate the excellent work done to the existing customers to build their satisfaction, loyalty, and experience.
2. Create a Plan
Create a spreadsheet like excel or word or any other tracking tool that may be used to keep the content organized for the year. This helps to change certain activities and link content more visually. For each event, the date, working title, the medium, the target audience, the goal, and the progress throughout the process should be incorporated. The company may also want to keep track of the keywords and images used as well as any other PR information. The more information is included in the PR calendar, the easier it is to design new content for the year.
3. Make a Plan for Changes
It is important to create some room to adapt to new ideas and strategies as the year progresses. Any breaking news and current events happenings in the company’s industry should be highlighted as they occur and in which case may facilitate necessary changes in the calendar plan. Keep track on the metrics during the year as certain events may not happen as expected which may warrant the company to carry out some adjustments in the PR calendar. Additionally, observe the competitors to see if they are doing anything new and innovative. As such, the company may be forced to change the PR calendar in order to achieve a competitive edge.
4. Start Planning Backwards
A successful PR calendar must be created by planning backward. Startups may start planning a PR calendar from the furthest date from the company’s actual event date. By doing this, it helps to assure that no event in the PR calendar is overlooked.
5. Stay Ahead of Schedules
Stick to the PR calendar by staying ahead of the dates and deadlines. If necessary, design and draft content weeks or months in advance of the date to be published. In this way, deadlines will not snowball, and events are not backlogged.
6. Team Participation
An effective PR calendars are the results of the active involvement of the team leader and his/her members during the creation process. When the team is actively engaged in scheduling events, they are able to embrace the plan and become more motivated to accomplish it. Whether the team members are in-house or remote, they can provide valuable ideas on when to schedule certain events. It is highly recommended to gather the team members together and to allow them to be part of the calendar creation process.
7. Backup Copy
An effective PR calendar will remain provided it exists. Calendars can be subjected to manhandling, theft, or even misplacement whether it is on paper or stored by electronic means. It is possible, however cumbersome to maintain a backup copy of the paper filed calendar. With the electronically managed calendar, it is possible to create and maintain several copies with just a few clicks.
Food for Thought
Take note that the PR calendar is meant to assist in efficiently managing time. It is there to ensure that everything that needs to be done is incorporated in the program and appropriate time is allocated. What the calendar achieves greatly depends on how effective it is. Creating a PR calendar may seem complex but can help to accomplish PR and marketing goals and objectives. The tips highlighted will assist in a creating a convenient schedule that blends with the PR goals.
We have attached below a free template to illustrate more on this discussion.
Startup PR Roadmap Template
One Year Out
- Edit, save and download photos and videos for the previous year’s events
- Share photos and videos that highlight the employees and relevant stakeholders on social media and blogs
- Cover story – All major industry shows. Key industry executive talk about the creative insights they would be implementing with their teams.
- Sales and media report
- Company updates. The management shares the goals for the company on social media platforms. They incorporate future prospects and what things have been and what can be learnt.
11 Months Out
- Boldfaced listings throughout the printed version
- Featured supplier listings on the buyer’s guide
- See our ad on page. Provides enough information for the viewers to get a feel of what products are being offered and why they should use it
- Brainstorm ideas for future events
10 Months Out
- Create a full page color print ad of the best product for sale and list others on ad
- Share a blog post. Feature latest news for the industry on the company’s blog
- Sales and media report
9 Months Out
- Local news program and national magazine feature on ‘America’s most promising companies’ to demonstrate innovative thinking and strong determination of the movers and shakers.
- Workshop and webinars for entrepreneurs in the country to identify the most influential individuals in their industry.
- Grow the list of reporters, bloggers and social media influencers. The list should contain the contact details of their publications and reporters who pertain to the industry. They should be organized in a manner as to how valuable they are in terms of reaching the target audience.
8 Months Out
- Set up an auto responder on website to respond to sales inquiries
- Upload presentation videos to social media channels
- Update and create a new list of influential reporters, journalists, bloggers and social media influencers. The media list is revised in order to build a database of key reporters.
6 Months Out
- Market reports for retail and service
- Make a speech and give comments on the industry and trade blogs.
- Maintain media partnerships
- Negotiate for Ads, editorials, interviews and onsite coverage
4 Months Out
- Marketing to digital marketing and SEO
- Publish press release on future partnerships, suppliers, community involvement and impact, and new event feature
- Live stream video broadcast and magazine feature on ‘How I got started’. The story provides customers with a better insight into what the company is and why that particular industry was chosen.
3 Months Out
- Launching of new product
- Prepare the media for product launch
- Display ad to attract local customers and businesses
- Speaking opportunity – Lessons and startup sales from big entrepreneurs who were once startups themselves
- Sales and media report
2 Months Out
- More invitations and follow ups are conducted. Necessary arrangements are made for informal meetings to discuss the outlook for the company and the industry.
- Prepare reporter friendlies for product launch
- Set up a meeting
- Respond to calls, queries, and emails from the media
- Incorporate a video and photo coverage
- Trade shows and partner events to share thoughts and give opinions on current news for the industry
- Post pre-campaign teasers
- Share a blog post
- Sales and media report
1 Month Out
- During this month, the company features all holidays on its local calendar, and sets out the goals and objectives to be achieved throughout the year. The company is also committed to introduce a new produce in its portfolio and releases demos for the same. The essence of the PR is to pitch the media and the foundation for any PR program is to develop a solid media list. Once the list is created, time is scheduled on the calendar for media outreach. Each reporter is then contacted to introduce the company.
- Feature all festivities and holidays on the local calendar
- Develop PR prospects and goals for the year
- Speech – Why social media is mandatory for startups success, bold ways to stand out and many more
- Company updates
- Marketing ideas and upcoming events
- Ads for an upcoming seminar and reporter meetings
- Set up media meetings
- Make phone calls and send emails to reporters to confirm their participation
- Capture contact information, schedule and meeting venue for pre-arranged meetings and interviews
- Prepare product launch materials
- Get approval for product launch materials
- Sales and media report
2 Weeks Out
- Featured story in industry trade magazine. Features a testimonial from the founder’s early stages in career
- Sponsorship for an event in Las Vegas
- International conference meeting in New York
5 Days Out
- Press conference to announce the new managing director
- Our Chief PR Officer makes a speech in Europe on the key strengths of the PR industry.
- Event report and photos
- Share community content
- Press release on new product launch
- New and emerging tech conference
- Post a link to content from a blog with short update
- Share a promotional product, discounts, and freebies
- Remind people to join the company’s mailing list and the benefits derived if they do
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