To start planning for 2016, a good first step is to use “calendar” as a verb. “Start with given industry events and milestones, like CES and SXSW. Then add company, competitor and partner milestones/events, like earnings reports, annual conferences, etc.,” says Katherine Eller, founder and principal at ROAM Communications. Calendaring allows you to work with news cycles and avoid forcing coverage. With a master calendar you can anticipate holes in the news cycle and find opportunities to pitch stories
- Events that likely will figure into your planning are the Olympics (Rio, Aug. 5) and the 2016 presidential elections (Nov. 8). With the elections, normal coverage and social media may take a backseat. “You need to assess the best times to pitch…to have the most realistic chance of coverage,” says Chris Goddard, president, CGPR Public Relations. Yet PR pros can get creative and piggyback on trends from the political campaigns. Be careful about reaching out to writers and editors when pitching, though. Just as you would during a normal period, make certain your pitch is relevant to the reporter you’re pitching.
- Few global moments create as much frenzy as the Olympics. “The level of noise, especially in the final 100 days before Aug. 5, is extraordinary. So think about the timing of your campaign and adjust accordingly,” says Shane Winn, EVP/GM of Alpaytac. “While many brands try to get creative to ride the wave of Olympic fever, far too many are crushed beneath the surf and scrape helplessly along the rocks, where no one is swimming.”
- When it comes to calendaring, make sure you incorporate editorial calendars from publications as part of your strategy. Many magazines and other publishing outlets provide editorial calendars that list themed issues as well as annual awards. Knowing these dates allows you to craft strategies to ensure your executives are considered for these accolades, says Maïté Conway Ross, managing partner at Wagstaff Worldwide. Editorial calendars also give you insight into trends the media expects will be hot in the coming year. “You can tailor your pitching to align with these trends, which should resonate with the media,” Conway Ross says
- Integration isn’t a fad. 2016 will see continued strong growth in integrated PR. For brands this means looking at existing silos with an eye toward integration. Agencies will need to offer a diverse range of specialties. And consider integrated reporting, which mixes financial data with non-financial info.
Needless to say 2016 will have its difficulties. Below are tips to overcome some of them.
- That the newsroom is shrinking is far from a new concept. Yet as it gets smaller, PR pros are competing for the attention of a smaller number of journalists. As “more digital and traditional outlets continue to blur the lines between advertising and editorial, that pool shrinks even more. As such, you see a proliferation of contributor opportunities at outlets like Fast Company , Forbes and Entrepreneur” that allow brands and clients to “have a voice and better control the message,” says Megan Severs, VP, client strategy, Geben Communication.
- As attention spans decrease, the public demands high-quality messages in a short amount of time. “PR pros will have to move faster than ever” in 2016, says Greg Hakim, VP, Corporate Ink Integrated PR and Marketing. “The challenge for PR professionals is being intentional with your key messages in a compelling, compact and timely manner. So move fast, be relevant, add value and take a stance.” Despite or perhaps because of the proliferation of available channels, finding the right platform for your message is another hurdle.
- Budgeting in a changing environment will continue to be problematic. “We try to plan as far in advance as we can; however, in the fast-changing world of PR, planning often doesn’t go as we originally anticipated,” says Erin Kirkpatrick, director of PR at Delucchi Plus. “Social media advertising is a great way to plan for the unexpected as you are able to turn ad campaigns on and off at the drop of a dime, and also keep super current content top-of-mind.”
This article originally appeared in the November 16, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.