Media Monday: Do awareness days help or hinder your efforts when securing media coverage?
In this week’s Media Monday feature I’m looking at whether awareness days help or hinder your efforts when trying to secure media coverage.
What are awareness days?
Before we start – what are awareness days? An awareness day is a general term given to a day – or sometimes a week or even a month – that is designed to, well, raise awareness about a cause or campaign.
Usually founded by a charity, organisation, or brand, awareness days cover all kinds of different themes. There’s everything from World Book Day and National No Smoking Day, to Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, British Pie Week and even International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
There are loads of free calendars available, including on awarenessdays.com, but how effective are awareness days when it comes to your PR activity?
How can you use awareness days in PR, content and media activity?
- Plan an event. For example, every year thousands of people across the UK take part in Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning to raise money for the cancer charity. Hosting such an event can help you engage face-to-face with people in your local community or in your business.
- Create your own content around the awareness day and share it on your website and across social media. For example, we’re seeing more and more people sharing their experiences for Mental Health Awareness Week. Most awareness days, weeks or months will have relevant hashtags, so it can be a good way to join in conversations online.
- Look at doing something to drive media coverage. Like, you might run a PR survey, put on a stunt, or pitch some opinion pieces on a topic that ties in with the awareness day.
But approach awareness days, PR and media activity with caution
On the whole, I wouldn’t plan your whole PR campaign around awareness days. There are just so many of them, the media often sees them as too promotional so don’t cover anything relating to them at all, plus so many businesses try to tap into them to promote themselves.
Saying that though – there can be media opportunities if you approach awareness days in the right way. Typically, the bigger and more established the awareness day is, the more likely the media is to cover it. If you’re able to share a unique story, different insights or give a human angle, that can also help you to get featured in the media.
Ultimately, before you start putting in time, money and effort into PR activity linked to awareness days, make sure you do your research.
What to consider when using awareness days for PR and media relations
- What is the awareness day?
- Which organisation is behind it and why?
- Why is this awareness day relevant for your brand and audience?
- What activity are you planning?
- Which media outlets would you like to appear in?
- And most importantly does your target media cover that type of content or awareness days in general?
Top awareness days to get featured in the media (radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and online)
Veganuary (January). Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people worldwide to try vegan for January and beyond. Since 2014, its campaign which runs throughout January has become increasingly popular, attracting more and more media attention as a result. In January 2020, Veganuary dominated the headlines with all kinds of content, such as real life stories from vegans, brands jumping on the vegan bandwagon with new products, debates around whether or not businesses should get involved with Veganuary, round ups of the best vegan restaurants, and even articles mocking people in the public eye who are anti-Veganuary.
Blue Monday (January). Originally conceived by a travel company, Blue Monday is the name given to a day in January that’s thought to be the most depressing day of the year. Although it was made up as part of a PR campaign to sell more holidays, over the years Blue Monday has become a convenient way for the media to cover everything from interior design advice and fashion trends, to employee wellbeing guides and roundups of products that help lift your spirits.
World Book Day (March). This UNESCO initiative is hosted every year in March to celebrate authors, illustrators and books, and is marked in more than 100 countries around the world. People mark the occasion by dressing up as their favourite book characters, and the sheer scale of the day, plus the visual nature of people dressing up, provides some great media opportunities across print, online and broadcast. From using the day as a hook to promote political campaigns, as seen here in this Guardian article, to celebrating some of the most creative costumes, as seen here in this Independent article and in this Northern Echo article, this is an awareness day that is widely covered by national and regional media.
Macmillan World’s Largest Coffee Morning (September). The first ever coffee morning was held in 1990 and since then the annual event has raised over £275 million for Macmillan. Every year local newspapers up and down the country cover stories about some of the events that are going to or have taken place in their areas, like this article in the Worcester News and this one in the Yorkshire Post.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). Brands around the world support Breast Cancer Awareness Month by creating limited edition products to sell to help raise money for the cause, which has led to a growing number of shopping articles like this one in Stylist (featuring Unhooked Communication’s client The Careless Collection) and brand collaborations, such as this partnership between Vans and the charity Coppafeel.
Christmas Jumper Day (December). Organised by Save the Children, Christmas Jumper Day in December encourages schools, businesses and other organisations to don some festive knitwear and donate money to the charity. The media has covered everything from information about what Christmas Jumper Day is, to the efforts made by organisers to make the event more sustainable. It's also a great way for local organisations and groups to appear in their local media, as many regional newspapers want to feature pictures of local people taking part.