A Guide To Creating The Perfect 2023 Public Relations Calendar
What Is A PR Calendar?A PR calendar is a project calendar or plan that maps out all the key components required to pitch and secure PR or media coverage. It can also map them in relation to your other important marketing campaigns and business events, so you can see how your PR schedule aligns with the rest of the business plan. An important note about your PR calendar is that it's not just a calendar of publish dates or final deadlines. It actually breaks down the different steps of the process and all the tasks associated with them into a manageable timeline. All the minor deadlines, campaign-related meetings and appointments, and requests for assets from the design team and quotes from the executives. All the to-dos you can think of in advance required to land great coverage. Of course, which to-dos are required will vary based on your company's individual PR strategy. A sampling of what might go on a PR calendar includes:
- The dates articles or other media coverage go live.
- Publish dates for your brand's content around the campaign (i.e. an award announcement, press release, or sharing news on social media).
- Deadlines for quotes you, your team, or your executives are giving to journalists.
- Shipping dates for sending product samples to reviewers and influencers.
- Deadlines for pitches and award submissions.
Why Do PR & Marketing Teams Need A PR Calendar?There are already business calendars, marketing calendars, content calendars, and more. Why do PR calendars need to exist as well, and why should your team have one? Is it just for the sake of feeling organized?
Aligning Public Relations With Other Business ActivitiesThink of the different calendars in your Google Calendar as different layers of your PR and marketing. They each show a separate view, but all together, you get the whole picture. The overall business calendar is the core that everything else should be based on. The marketing calendar is the second layer — how you communicate your main calendar to your customers through things like launches and campaigns. The content calendar can be a third layer that shows what content you'll use to implement those campaigns. Consider your PR calendar a final layer; showing how you'll use publicity and visibility to amplify your marketing messages. By looking at them all, you get a full understanding of how public relations ties in with other business and marketing activities.
Having a PR calendar is about more than just the organization and color coding.Click To Tweet
Planning PR Around Holidays & TrendsAnother way a PR calendar will make your whole team's work easier is through the ability to plan in advance for any seasonal holidays or trends your brand might want to join for publicity. For example, the gift guides we talked about earlier. Those important, time-sensitive campaigns can sneak up on you quickly when you don't have them — and the prep work they require — mapped out in advance. With a calendar, you can presently block off seasonal trends or events relevant to your industry and add them to your calendar as yearly recurring items — they'll never sneak up again.
Easier Internal & External CollaborationFinally, when you're collaborating as much as public relations requires, you have a lot of different people of which you are accountable — external collaborators, like journalists and publishers, colleagues and co-workers, and freelancers working with your company.
When you're collaborating as much as public relations requires, you have a lot of different people of which you are accountable.Click To Tweet
Year-Over-Year ReturnsLastly, a PR calendar will yield results for years to come. The first calendar created will start each year after it's planning process with a skeleton of ideas. Content – press releases, blog posts, campaigns, etc. – can be creatively repurposed, saving significant time.
1. Choose Your FormatFirst, you need to decide where your PR calendar will live. As much as I love paper calendars and markers, I don't recommend them for entire marketing and PR plans. That means your options are a good old spreadsheet, a basic digital calendar, or a dedicated editorial calendar tool. There are some pros and cons for each option, so consider your own team's needs.
2. Decide On Your Content TypesOnce you've decided where the PR calendar will live, it's time to start building out your campaigns and processes inside it. One of the first steps you'll need is to identify the types of content you'll need to implement and amplify your content and PR coverage.
- PR campaigns
- Blog content
- Social media posts/campaigns
- Print collateral
3. Plan Your Publishing CadenceNext, you'll want to consider how "full" your calendar will get. In words words, how frequently you want content published as part of your strategy, whether that's "earned" or "owned" media. When doing this, you want to take into account a few different factors. First of all, how much publishing owned content and gaining coverage does your team have the capacity for?
How much publishing owned content and gaining coverage does your team have the capacity for?Click To Tweet
4. Brainstorm & Add Content IdeasOnce you've laid out the structure and cadence of your calendar, you can start brainstorming content and PR ideas and adding them into the calendar's empty slots. You'll want to brainstorm things like:
- Story angles to pitch media
- Guest content and thought leadership
- Content for your company blog
- Social media and email campaigns
- Content promoting events, awards, and other PR
5. Add Industry-Specific ContentPR calendars change per industry. The content needed for one business may be entirely unnecessary for another. Drawing attention to industry-specific content tailors the calendar to your needs. Consider adding the following topics:
- Industry Conferences Dates
- Awareness Months
- National Days
- Important Seasonal Events (e.g. back to school season)
- Industry Awards
- Personal Speaking Opportunities
- Community Events
6. Include Contact InformationPR requires the collaboration of numerous people. To create a steady flow of activities, include the contact information for all internal and external communication needed. This includes:
7. Keep Moving Parts OrganizedFinally, you need to actually use and maintain your new calendar. It sounds obvious, but checking the editorial calendar when you start work each day is a new habit to build. Here are a few ways you can make building that habit easier:
- Establish color coding guidelines to make the information easily digestible for "quick checks".
- Block off time to update the calendar every week.
- Bring up the calendar in team meetings (or directly after).
Be FluidYour calendar is not etched in stone. PR opportunities may randomly appear, certain events will call for action afterhand, so be fluid in your approach. Welcoming a change, or reacting to a situation, often sparks innovation.
Account For Lead TimeThe best PR plan is not rushed. Account for proper lead time between project initiation and project completion. An ample timeline allows for deadlines to be met comfortably and for content alterations to be made.
Use Relevant HashtagsUse relevant hashtags to tie content to current events. Creating content in advance saves time but users engage with trends. Keep content fresh by adding a hashtag.
Assess Previous PR ActivitiesAssessing the previous years’ PR activities evaluates successes, highlights areas of improvement, and shows how to best move forward. Ponder the following questions:
- What worked well for you? What flopped?
- What ideas surpassed expectations? How can these ideas be expanded?
- From where did you receive media attention?
- From where did key competitors receive media attention?
Get Started NowA PR calendar will remove the friction and overwhelming feelings of juggling multiple project in multiple stages. However, only when you use it. If you don't have a calendar to wrangle it all yet, it's time to start introducing one to your strategy now.
If you don't have a calendar to wrangle it all yet, it's time to start introducing one to your strategy now.Click To Tweet