Key dates and awareness days are ideal prompts if you’re struggling to come up with content ideas or a PR plan.

They not only provide ideas for you as a business owner to think outside the box and create new and exciting visitor experiences, they help you to tap into a much wider audience by using the relevant hashtags or promoting yourself to a new target market.

But, like all PR, it’s essential to plan in advance so that you maximise the event. Some need a little more planning than others (especially if you’re basing a campaign on them).

So, how do you use key dates and awareness days in your PR strategy? Let’s break them down…

1) Key dates: These will differ from business to business depending on what you do but there will be a few key dates each year that you should centre a wider campaign around - some will come from within your business itself, such as an anniversary or a big event, and others will be national campaigns that you can tap into.

For example, in tourism, Valentine’s Day is a big key date and if you’re not already thinking about it this year, you should be.

Essential key dates need to be planned and thought about in advance so that you can get your campaign up and running in plenty of time to make deadlines and reach as wide an audience as possible. If you’re targeting a local audience for a Valentine’s Day event, for example, you need your plans in place to publicise it in the local magazines in December at the very latest. It can be tough when all you can think about is Christmas, but don’t forget Christmas promotion starts in July! So by then you should already have everything in place…

Obviously, not everything revolves around local magazines and if you’ve identified that your audience is more social media savvy, then creating a campaign to target them in the new year (when they’ll be thinking about Valentine’s Day) is essential.

If you’re creating a campaign around an internal key date, it will be exclusive to you which should, at least, capture the attention of the local press. But try to think about your audience as well. What can you do to involve them? Competitions or exclusive offers on social media are a great way of including your audience in your campaign and will engage them in your business’ activity.

2) Awareness days: These seemingly random celebrations seem to multiply each year and have either national or global significance but can be used to create quick-fire content if they’re relevant to your business.

It seems there’s a day to celebrate everything these days - from popcorn to champagne! A lot of them do have a motive - as their name suggests, they’re raising awareness - often as an industry-wide campaign, but then there are others that are just random.

Some are bigger than others as well, so you might want to be picky about which ones you choose to support depending on the amount of engagement it’s likely to get you but if, for example, you’re a gin producer, it’d be crazy not to plan a campaign around World Gin Day in June. Perhaps you’d make an experience out of it and offer distillery tours that day to educate followers on how gin is made… or you could just do a tour on social media if you’d prefer.

How you plan your PR is up to you - you might want to go all out and run a full campaign around an awareness day. Or, you might just want to create a couple of posts on Twitter or Instagram so that you can use the associated hashtag and engage with other people in the industry.

But the important thing is that you plan your content in advance.

We’ve put together a handy calendar of key dates and awareness days specifically for the tourism industry which is available to members of our Rural PR Academy Facebook group.

Throughout the year we’ll be sharing content ideas, so if you’re interested in planning some key dates and awareness days into your PR strategy, join in and share your campaigns with us.