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 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. 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 & TrendsAnother 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 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. 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.
1. Choose Your FormatFirst, 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 TypesOnce 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 CadenceNext, 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?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 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 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 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 InformationTo 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 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 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.