And Other Ways to Use Offbeat Holidays and Observances
Every month about this time, we pull out our big “Chase’s Calendar of Events” book — or open the CD version — to see what historical anniversaries, special observances and not-so-obvious holidays we’ll be celebrating in the weeks ahead.
It’s a lot of fun, especially for planning impromptu office parties. Today, for example, we could all dress in black and sing “Ring of Fire” in honor of Johnny Cash’s 81st birthday. Or I could pick up a cheesecake and balloons to celebrate my husband, Steve, who fixes me a delicious lunch every day — yup, today’s also National Personal Chef Day.
What does this have to do with marketing your company, product or book, you ask?
When we pitch to the mass media on behalf of our clients (and ourselves), or post on social media, we look for “news hooks” — events, issues and trends people are talking about. For instance, earlier this month, President Obama talked about cyber warfare in his State of the Union address. Within the same week, the Pentagon announced it was creating a Distinguished Warfare Medal to recognize soldiers who excel in cyber and drone attacks.
Those developments were wonderful hooks for one of our authors, a client who’s well-versed in organized hacking and whose novel features a detailed plot against the U.S. Treasury.
But the news doesn’t always cooperate, and that’s where “Chase’s Calendar of Events” becomes a handy tool. The media like offbeat calendar observances as much as we do. Case in point: Last Friday was National Margarita Day. The Washington Post and the New York Daily News wrote about it; it was a trending topic on Twitter; and its eponymous Facebook page got more then 40,000 “likes”.
Toward the end of every month, we look ahead to the next two months and make a list of which “holidays” may be good news hooks for the clients we have on board. We do this at least every month — and frequently more often — for two reasons:
1) We get new clients with different messages and areas of expertise all the time, so we double-check on their behalf if there’s nothing suitable for them going on in the news.
2) Many print publications work weeks or months in advance. Tomorrow’s “holiday” is already old news for them, so we look ahead, just as they do.
Wondering how you could possibly turn Dress in Blue Day (March 1) into a pitch for your own publicity efforts? It would be easy if you’re a doctor or other health-care professional; if you make natural remedies and supplements; or if you’ve ever had a loved one diagnosed with colon cancer. That’s because Dress in Blue Day is a reminder for people to get checked for colon cancer.
Here are a few real-life examples of successful pitches we’ve done, tying clients into Chase calendar observances.
- Repeal Day: Dec. 5 marks the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. (What? You forgot to toast?) That dovetailed nicely with a client who’d written a novel — based on heavy research — about Prohibition-era bootleggers. In her Repeal Day pitch to talk radio shows, we had her discussing the pivotal changes that came about in the United States as a result of the ban on alcohol sales from 1920 to 1933.
- National Fresh Breath Day (August): We booked a client who is a dentist, with products he developed for bad breath, on a number of radio shows providing tips for freshening up.
- Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month (June): A singer with a big soft spot for animals, particularly cats, touted the virtues of feline pets and got in a plug for his music video on YouTube — a song about a particularly beloved pet cat.
- National Write a Business Plan Month (December): We used this designation as a hook for our own EMSI Public Relations, with tips for incorporating marketing into your business plan. It got us great interviews on national talk radio and, among other big print placements, a bylined feature in Entrepreneur magazine
Remember, when seeking publicity, your goal is to provide useful content to the media — not to try to sell yourself (that’s what advertising’s for). So if you can find a news hook or observance that somehow relates to what you’re promoting, all you have to do is come up with relevant, interesting content to share. That will get exposure for your name, your web address, and the name of whatever you’re promoting, with the added benefit of branding yourself as an expert.
At EMSI, we invest in a new, updated copy of Chase’s calendar each year. But you can also Google around the internet and find some less comprehensive lists. Just be sure that you have the correct date and other pertinent information for the current year. Accuracy is important if you want the media to trust you.
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity.