It’s very difficult to break a news story or get lots of publicity on your own. It’s much easier to ‘jump on the media bandwagon’ and add your twist or angle to an existing news story. And the easiest way of doing that is by doing a little DIY media planing: hooking onto an upcoming major event or recognised annual public holiday that is guaranteed tons of media coverage, and putting your spin on the story.
Just because your brand is not automatically associated with the public holiday or event, don’t let that discourage you. In fact it might be easier for you to get coverage. That’s because the more original or unusual your take on the event, the more likely it is to be used.
Let’s take Valentine’s Day for example. Every year it’s on February 14th, and every year there is stacks of press coverage about romance, relationships and what gift to get the special person in your life. If you’re trying to promote a new line of sexy lingerie, you will be in competition with some of the biggest lingerie brands in the world (and their expensively assembled PR teams who would have been working on their campaign for months) for media coverage.
However let’s consider the case of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, who famously do fantastic work re-housing stray and mal-treated dogs and cats. Automatically one wouldn’t associate them with Valentines day. World Pet’s Day? Yes. Valentines Day? No.
However they’ve done something clever by creating an event called ‘Feline Lonely’, an opportunity for people who don’t have a significant other on Valentine’s day to go down to Battersea and spend a few hours stroking and cuddling their cute cats. This is bound to appeal to journalists and bloggers, who are bored of creating the standard articles and content about romance.
Sure enough ‘Feline Lonely’ has been picked up on ‘anti-valentines’ lists such as this one on the Huffington Post.
As well as the regular annual events, the media like to celebrate significant anniversaries of less regularly celebrated events. For example as I write in 2015, a great deal of press coverage is being given to the 800th anniversary of the 1215 signing of the Magna Carta. We don’t celebrate the signing of the Magna Carta every year, but you can bet there will be plenty of people leveraging off the 800th anniversary to get some publicity for themselves.
If you are going to use future planned events to tag a story onto, make sure you get your pitches out to the press well in advance – we recommend at least 6 weeks.
So how do you find out about what’s coming up in the news and is likely to attract a lot of press coverage? There’s two ways. One is easy, but has an attached cost; the other is free but more labour intensive.
Method 1 – Use a ‘forward planning’ service
The easiest way to find out about all sorts of upcoming news is to subscribe to a ‘forward planning’ service such as media planner
A forward planning service is constantly updated by a team who look at what sorts of events are likely to make the news. They list upcoming social, political and economic events; key anniversaries, birthdays, awards & award ceremonies; and celebrity events, parties & whereabouts. They make it their business to have details of the dates of these events for months and even years ahead and can find the most appropriate ones for you. However there is a high cost to this service as it’s aimed at large media and PR organisations. They don’t have a price on their site but it’s likely to be at least three figures per month, rising to four for a full service.
Method 2 – Do your own research
The free, but labour intensive method is just to do some research yourself and create your own forward planning diary.
Here are some links to big events that the media will be looking at in 2015 (if you’re reading this in the future a simple google will reveal similar articles listing important upcoming dates).
Short Cut to Success
A helping hand can be found in our guide to 66 recurring events that always generate media stories which is located elsewhere in the blog. This should give you plenty of ideas for an event to jump on the media bandwagon of.
If you found this guide to DIY media planning useful, we recommend checking out our free 4 part video series training that shows you how to get the media’s attention and build your brand. To get that, click here.