We all know that the best public relations professionals are proactive planners. These people work from an overarching strategy that ensures that each project and job on their schedule is purposeful and goal-oriented. Given that yet another year has come to a close, it’s time to start thinking about your company’s PR strategy for 2022. An annual PR calendar is one of the most effective building elements of a proactive PR strategy. It lays out the year’s media outreach activity and breaks. It is broken down into monthly plans that ensure your team is aware of future, relevant PR opportunities that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Best of all, once your team’s annual PR calendar is developed, it can be utilized as a PR calendar template year after year. With that in mind, let’s discuss why a PR calendar is so important to a business. We’ll also talk about how to develop one with the support of your team, and how to make sure the team uses it to its full potential.
Why is a PR calendar so important?
A PR calendar boosts your company’s public relations strategy by providing time-phased, monthly responsibilities that keep your staff one step ahead of the editorial calendar. More importantly, this calendar helps you lay out what you need to do in advance, rather than reacting to every holiday and national day. With this calendar, you won’t be caught unprepared when a seasonal theme pops up because you’ll know about this in advance. A good PR calendar focuses a company’s efforts on each client, directing your staff through what may be an overwhelming number of story ideas, news angles, and media requests throughout the year. It also casts a focus on potential possibilities that the company’s account managers should start planning for during slower times of the year. There are two more key reasons to adopt a PR calendar at your company:
- It can be used throughout the year. Once your team has committed to the effort of creating a PR calendar, you can easily have a PR calendar template ready to go each year. You should consider your PR calendar a living document. It’s important to make a copy that your entire team can access and amend if new possibilities arise during the year, or if someone learns of an opportunity that the team missed the previous year. You can simply add these to the PR calendar template so you don’t miss them the following year.
- It can “automate” the work of a team on a monthly basis. When used in conjunction with PR software like Pressfarm, a PR calendar is very effective. The PR calendar becomes a launching pad for your company staff to kick off the next steps. These include generating custom media contact lists, composing email pitches, and creating online newsrooms once the right PR tools are in place.
Pressfarm is a PR agency that works with startups and companies to create newsworthy content that can be distributed to media outlets and professionals. The team at Pressfarm is skilled at creating email pitches and press releases, guest posts and press kits. Pressfarm’s PR professionals will work to compile all the information required to create content that can gain media coverage. The PR specialists, expert writers, and certified designers at Pressfarm work with companies to help them understand what it takes to stand out in their niche and create quality content that makes heads turn. With a professional press release, some compelling feature articles and a creative media kit from Pressfarm, your brand can make a splash in your industry.
By submitting your brand to the right media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can boost your online presence, ensuring you rank in relevant search results. With a custom media list as well as a database of 1 million+ bloggers, journalists, and influencers, you can connect with the best storytellers and thought leaders in your niche. One of Pressfarm’s affordable PR packages could be exactly what you need to take your brand to the next level.
Other reasons to use a PR calendar include the following:
- It provides you with clarity about what you are doing and when you are doing it… You get an “at a glance” snapshot of where your time should be spent in the short and long term.
- You can notify the media in advance of product releases, new services, or initiatives. Some magazines plan three months ahead of time, if not more, so you can prepare ideas to show and pitch ahead of time.
You can spot opportunities where you can capitalize on the news and actions of others – also known as newsjacking. There have a number of scheduled awareness days and weeks that can provide an opportunity to draw attention to the company. You must explore spaces outside your core competencies. Examine how you might be innovative in supporting initiatives. Otherwise, you can use your own experience and employees as case studies.
- You can become laser-focused on activities that will help you achieve your goals and communicate with and to the people you wish to reach. This allows you to quit wasting time on things that aren’t on the agenda. That isn’t to say you won’t take advantage of possibilities that present themselves. Rather, a PR calendar helps in keeping you on target rather than being distracted by something that occurs to you in the spur of the moment.
- You may more easily plan, coordinate, and schedule activities that tie in with key topics. For example, you can plan for posting relevant blogs and distributing news releases via social media.
- A good PR calendar generates a continuous stream of activity that is far more effective than a single PR hit. You can benefit from this momentum since you may generate coverage to share with your followers and community. Increasing your company’s visibility ultimately improves its credibility and reputation.
- A PR calendar assists businesses to put into place processes that allow you to generate PR opportunities without relying solely on your own news or ideas to gain attention.
In reality, combining a PR calendar with PR automation software will result in a well-structured monthly project schedule. This schedule will lead your company’s staff through simple, repeatable stages while saving time on project management. It allows you to take a step back and concentrate on more important agency tasks like client acquisition, hiring, and revenue forecasting. The bottom line is that a PR calendar increases the likelihood of your brand being referenced in relevant print, online and social media discussions. These are conversations that your customers see throughout the year.
How to create a PR calendar
1) Begin with a brainstorming session
It’s best to bring in a team into the development of this calendar early on, as this variety of input will ensure that you cover all your bases. You should begin with a team brainstorming session, in which the collective PR knowledge from your team members allows the group to quickly list the most well-known, recurrent annual PR topics. From there, you should then encourage your employees to get creative and write down all holidays, national days and annual themes that come to mind. For example, back to school, spring vacation, New Year’s resolutions, and Black Friday offer loads of opportunities for content creation. Furthermore, you should consider your clients’ industries and incorporate relevant industry events such as conferences and speaking engagements. You must think big. Don’t miss more basic issues related to seasonal business insights such as CEO advice for the New Year or Q4 forecasting.
2) Conduct in-depth research
You should then choose someone to conduct further in-depth research or post an online draft document within a place where everyone can contribute to it. Many firms appreciate the versatility of Excel or Google Sheets in generating these documents. With these platforms, you can ensure your documents have accessible by the entire team in such a way that they can be simply duplicated and altered to create client-specific PR calendars. At this point, you should look into where your clients’ competitors were referenced the next year. It’s also useful to identify what annual events and themes they covered on social media. You should use your research and previous triumphs to learn about fresh prospects and keep track of the editors and influencers who cover brands in your niche.
3) Create the PR calendar
Finally, some PR firms like to keep industry award deadlines and application deadlines close to hand by including them on their PR calendar. In general, you can regard this initiative as a way to merge numerous agency planning objectives. In fact, a sidebar with a list of evergreen material might be beneficial here as well. Once all news subjects mark on your PR calendar, you can consider the calendar halfway done. The next stage is to figure out how far ahead of time you should contact appropriate editors for each event. Teams should factor in these dates, keeping in mind that print periodicals require a longer lead time of 4-6 months compared to the 1-2 months required by internet media outlets. This is where having a color-coded calendar comes in handy.
How to use a PR calendar template effectively
Using a PR calendar template isn’t as simple as taking the template and slapping content wherever you want it. Once you have a master PR calendar ready for the year, you may choose to have each account manager customize one for each of their clients. If you choose this approach, then the account managers should plot the client’s precise release dates in this situation, as well as key news cycles. Make sure your account managers include content that aligns with important holidays and industry seasons. For example, they could highlight New Year’s resolutions for lifestyle clients, and Fashion Week patterns for clothes clients.
If you are looking to get the most out of your PR calendar, here’s a suggestion: share it with each client’s in-house marketing team and discuss potential collaboration options. Your social media staff should also be geared to discuss the themes in the company’s PR calendar and mention national holidays. They should also be ready to use relevant hashtags to boost visibility across all relevant social media channels. You can also include pertinent PR mentions so that the editors and media outlets involved can understand how useful cross-promotion is to the company. Client content writers should also be involved, with relevant subjects for a blog and email newsletter content ideas drawn from the company’s PR calendar.
When you’re developing a PR calendar, it’s also important to consider how effective a cohesive marketing message across all consumer communications will be. Sometimes it’s more effective to develop a calendar that contains a few major themes that relate to your industry than tweak the elements of this calendar for different platforms. After all, especially when it comes to social media content, different audiences relate to brands in different ways. For example, you wouldn’t take your Facebook content and replicate it exactly for use on TikTok.
Whether you’re creating a blog post, an infographic, or a video, you need to find out the most effective way to talk to each audience and adapt your content accordingly. With this strategy, you will achieve maximum engagement for each element of your PR calendar. You will find that developing a yearly PR calendar is a one-time investment that will pay off for years to come. What’s more, once you have your first PR calendar, you will also have an easy-to-use template to start each year’s planning.
If you train your team to update this calendar as new ideas and themes arise throughout the year, it’ll always be up to date. You will also discover that after a year, they will have content that can be repurposed in subsequent years as part of a larger content marketing strategy. Examples of such content include press releases, email pitches, blog entries, and social media content. This means that by the second year, your team will have saved a large amount of time. Every team looks forward to kicking off the new year with an effective PR strategy in place. Developing a PR calendar that everyone in your organization can refer to starts the year off right and sets the tone for nothing but success in the months to come.
By planning out your activities in a PR calendar format, you will also be able to create a sustainable content marketing strategy that helps you to keep putting content out there on a consistent basis. Once you’ve spent a certain amount of time creating content consistently, your brand will become memorable and remain top of mind among the audience that you’re targeting. Pushing content out consistently also helps by ensuring that more eyeballs are on your content when you publish it. After all, once people know your schedule, they will come to you when it’s time for a new piece of content, instead of you having to vie for their attention.
Keep in mind that putting a good calendar together also involves doing research for each element. With this research, you can find the right opportunities and also reach out to the right contacts. Nevertheless, a calendar should not be rigid. It should evolve with a business and always be accommodating. Your calendar is something that you and your team will look at over and over to keep your efforts streamlined and on track. If you really want your PR to succeed, you will do well to invest to develop a PR calendar at the start of every year.