Utilising awareness days in Digital PR

Rosa McLeod | 29th November 2022 | Digital PR

Nowadays, there seems to be an awareness day for almost anything and everything. With over 80 awareness days and weeks in the UK calendar each year – there are plenty! However, this doesn’t diminish the importance of these milestone dates. Awareness days allow specific groups to be seen and feel heard, bringing a variety of different topics and causes to light.

For example, ‘International Women’s Day’ has been celebrated for well over a century to fight against the injustices faced by women, in the hope to forge positive change and put an end to gender bias. Other days are just a bit of fun. ‘International Pizza Day’ might seem a bit insignificant, but it still brings people together to celebrate something they enjoy which both businesses and individuals profit from.

But whether it’s a public holiday or a niche industry date, we can utilise these awareness days within Digital PR. They add substantial value to campaigns and strengthen outreach emails, while simultaneously increasing brand awareness for a positive cause. 

We’ve looked back at some of our most successful PR campaigns which incorporate awareness days to demonstrate the best way to use these national days in your PR strategy. 

When to use awareness days?

PR campaigns

The most successful campaigns are often those which are time-sensitive and relevant to the media landscape at the time. Incorporating awareness days into campaigns ensures that your work is timely. A recent campaign of ours, which was a huge success, was a data-led piece on fertility rates across England. The piece was created on behalf of our client, fertility supplement specialists, Fertility Family, which we promoted during ‘National Fertility Week’. Promoting the campaign during this week gave it greater meaning and purpose – it enabled the client to add to ongoing conversations about fertility at a time when it was most relevant. The piece received coverage across both national and regional publications. 

Public holidays such as Christmas and Easter are also an opportunity to inspire campaigns as they’re often widely celebrated, non-industry specific and generate plenty of media attention. One of our recent campaigns ‘Three Japanese-inspired summer mocktails to try this bank holiday’ created on behalf of our client, Kelly Loves, generated a high level of engagement with lifestyle and national publications. The reference to the bank holiday added substance to a simple recipe piece.  With people off during the long weekend in August, they’d be more likely to enjoy a refreshing drink in the sun. This was a hook for journalists. 

The most important thing to note when using milestone days in your PR campaigns is that the awareness day itself should not be the story. Simply being ‘National Recycling day’ is not enough as a stand-alone story. Instead, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How is the day relevant to you and what can you add to the conversation or cause?
  •  Is there a specific spokesperson that can provide useful insight?
  • Will the day have repercussions or make an impact on your client and their industry? Can they comment on this? 
  • Are you able to conduct a study related to the cause? 
  • What industry or internal data do you have that is relevant to the day? 
  • Do you have any existing campaigns which can be promoted on the day/week? 

In your outreach email

If not within the campaign itself, awareness days can also be referenced in your outreach email. This, again,  gives journalists an incentive to cover your piece and simply adds a ‘why now?’ element. Below is an example of how best to draft up an email referencing an awareness day which was constructed on behalf of Airflow Developments for ‘World Ventilation Day’.

Campaign pivots

You can recycle, reuse and update campaigns in line with certain national days too. We’re not shy of pivoting a campaign in PR and awareness days can provide a fresh outlook on a piece. This approach is beneficial as it’s quick and easy – especially as you know the success of the original piece. This allows you to make use of quality content time and time again. For example, our campaign on mental health within the construction industry created on behalf of plant tool hire specialists, Herts Tools, was initially promoted on ‘Mental Health Awareness week’ – and was hugely successful. When ‘Anti-Bullying week’ came about, we pivoted the material and data to encompass bullying in the construction industry and gained even more coverage. 

Expert commentary

You can also promote a spokesperson to speak on a particular topic for  awareness days, rather than creating an entire campaign which can involve press releases, on-site content and data gathering. One of the best ways to do this is by engaging on Twitter: tweeting the day itself and the spokesperson you have in mind to speak on the topic. This is something we did recently for ‘National Badger Day’ on behalf of our client, Ark Wildlife. We promoted the founder, Sean McMenemy, to speak on spotting badgers in the wild. This led to interest and further coverage in the Daily Waffle and a number of regional titles. 

Top tips on how to use awareness days in your PR campaign

  1. Create an awareness day calendar which is regularly reviewed. 
  2. Highlight the days which relate to your clients. 
  3. Review your calendar on a monthly basis and share the next three months’ worth of relevant days with your team or account managers. 
  4. Assign somebody to take ownership of the calendar. 
  5. Keep up to date and plan ahead. We tend to plan around three months in advance. 
  6. Create a Comment Bank which you can dip into on specific days. 
  7. Apply awareness days to ideation processes to inspire campaign ideas. 

Importance of client and awareness day coherence

Whilst we love using awareness days to add value to our campaigns, it’s important to note that awareness days should not be exploited. If an awareness day is promoting a particular cause but your client directly contradicts that cause, then perhaps you should consider another one. The values of the subject should align with the values of your client. If not, it could have repercussions and negatively impact the brand image.

To summarise

  • Awareness days can be used in both data-led and thought-led campaigns, ideation, expert commentary opportunities and outreach emails. 
  • The best way to keep on top of these opportunities is by creating an up-to-date awareness calendar. 
  • Assign someone to take ownership of the calendar –  sharing three months upfront with the team and keeping an eye out for any emerging, new days that could be utilised by you too. 

A date in the diary can certainly motivate you to try something new and perhaps add significant commentary to a conversation. There are plenty of days to suit a variety of businesses and the industry they operate in. Just remember, that using awareness days in Digital PR will only work if they’re relevant and of significance to a story. 

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