A Guide To Creating The Perfect 2023 Public Relations Calendar

How to create a PR calendar with a simple template header. One of the most important components of successful public relations is timeliness. Timeliness gives media and their audiences a reason to care about your brand. The struggle comes in aligning what's timely for your brand, what's timely for target media outlets, and what's timely for everyone's audiences — all at the same time. Doing so requires not just keeping up with the trends in your industry, but to see them coming before almost anyone else. Although it’s easier said than done. How can you stay on top of trends, seasons, what media outlets are doing, what your company has going on, and make it all work together? If you're like any of the PR pros I know, a meticulous calendar sure helps — a master calendar that combines the seasonal calendar with your brand's marketing calendar and the editorial calendars of media you want coverage from. This kind of PR content calendar is more than a big list of dates. It's a strategy and project in itself, mapping out everything that's needed for PR coverage and working backward from your target coverage, goals, and campaigns. This guide will help you create one of your own.
Public Relations Calendar Importance

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. In full, you can see how your PR schedule aligns with the rest of the business plan. Of course, which to-dos are required will vary based on your company's individual PR strategy. Consider including publish dates, deadlines for quotes, and shipping dates in your PR calendar. Anything you need to do or remember in order to land coverage is fair game.

Why Do PR & Marketing Teams Need A PR Calendar?

Don't underestimate the damage that chaos can have on your marketing team. If your team doesn't know what's going on, confusion will lead to project delays and errors. That's why having a PR calendar is about more than just organization and color coding. It's about:

Aligning Public Relations With Other Business Activities

Think 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. Consider your PR calendar a final layer; on top of business, content, and marketing calendars, 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.

Planning PR Around Holidays & Trends

Another way a PR calendar will amplify your team's work is through the ability to plan in advance for seasonal holidays or trends. 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 Collaboration

Finally, 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.

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A PR calendar can be shared with everyone involved in the projects, and it will help you in working together and communicate more easily without missing external deadlines that could sacrifice coverage.

Year-Over-Year Returns

Lastly, a PR calendar will yield results for years to come. Once you create your first calendar, it’s sure to grow with you. The entirety of your content- press releases, blog posts, campaigns, etc. – can be creatively repurposed, saving significant time.
How To Create & Manage A PR Calendar In 7 Steps
Experience full clarity and organization within your team. Here’s how to get started:

1. Choose Your Format

First, you need to decide where your PR calendar will live. To break down your options; consider a good old spreadsheet, a basic digital calendar, or a dedicated editorial calendar tool. There are some pros and cons for each option, so take the time to consider your own team's needs.

2. Decide On Your Content Types

Once you've decided where the PR calendar will live, it's time to start building out your campaigns and processes inside it. Jump in by identifying the types of content you'll need to implement and amplify your content and PR coverage. If it’s PR, it can (and should be) be planned on a calendar. A good way to structure things is to give each content format its own category in whatever tool you're using.

3. Plan Your Publishing Cadence

Next, determine 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 published owned content does your team have the capacity for?

How much published owned content does your team have the capacity for?

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No matter the size of your team, you need to make deadlines for the rest of your team attainable. Give yourself free time to respond to timelier trends and events as they pop up. Second, what seasonal trends or campaigns will have the most impact? You want to stay top of mind for your target audience as much as possible, but it's also worth spacing out content during "quieter" times. Once you know the constraints you're working with, you can set goals for your content cadence, like monthly videos, weekly blog posts and daily social posts.

4. Brainstorm & Add Content Ideas

Once you've laid out the structure and cadence of your calendar, you can start brainstorming content and PR ideas and add them to the calendar's empty slots. You'll want to organize things around relevant themes or seasonal trends as much as possible.

5. Add Industry-Specific Content

PR 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 fit your needs. Consider adding the following topics:
  • Industry Conferences Dates
  • Awareness Months
  • National Days
  • Important Seasonal Events
  • Industry Awards
  • Personal Speaking Opportunities
  • Community Events

6. Include Contact Information

To create a steady flow of activities, include the contact information for all internal and external communication needed. Think reporters, freelancers, designers, etc.

7. Keep Moving Parts Organized

Finally, 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 game changer. Here are some tips when you check in on your calendar:
  • Implement color coding to make information easily digestible for "quick checks"
  • Block off time to update the calendar every week.
  • Touch base on the calendar in team meetings.
Additionally, if you're using a dedicated editorial calendar tool, like CoSchedule's social calendar, you can plan out content by connecting the calendar to your WordPress blog, social media profiles, and email marketing tool. Allowing you to draft and schedule your outgoing content from the same calendar. Dedicated tools also make it easier to break down projects into specific actions using project and task templates, features that might not be available in a spreadsheet you build yourself.
Applying The PR Calendar In Practice
A PR calendar removes the stress of juggling multiple projects in multiple steps. But only when a calendar is maximized to its fullest extent can PR objectives be achieved. Use the following four ideas to ensure your calendar reaches full potential.

Be Fluid

Your calendar is not etched in stone. PR opportunities may randomly appear, and certain events will call for action afterward, so be fluid in your approach. Welcoming a change, or reacting to a situation, often sparks innovation.

Account For Lead Time

The 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 Hashtags

Use relevant hashtags to tie content to current events. It’s no surprise that users engage with trends. So keep content fresh by adding a hashtag.

Assess Previous PR Activities

Looking back on past PR activities can reveal successes, highlight areas of improvement, and show your team how to best move forward. Divert attention to what worked well, things that didn’t meet expectations, and source of media attention. From here, use your answers to thoughtfully adjust your PR Calendar so it stays ahead of the game for years to come. This post was originally published July 1, 2020. It was updated on December 2021; December 2022; August 2023. Contributions from Paige Nordstrom.
About the Author

Brittany Berger is a content marketing and repurposing consultant. She helps overwhelmed marketers meet their content marketing goals with less stress, less overwhelm, and less content. She works with content marketers, creators, and entrepreneurs and assists them in refreshing their old content to get new customers. She also educates them through consulting and digital products that teach them how to remix content themselves. When she’s not helping other businesses with their content, she’s creating her own. She continually creates content through her Brittany Berger blog, Work Brighter blog, or YouTube channel. In addition to consulting on strategy and remixing, she writes long-form high-ranking blog posts for SaaS companies.