If you’re serious about getting media exposure it’s important to keep your calendar up to date. Make a note of important events to your organisation, but also look out for regular dates on the social, political and development calendar that may give you a ‘hook’ for a story you can pitch to the media.
Dates to look out for include public holidays in your country, seasonal events such as New Year and Easter, school and university terms and holidays, and so on. Plan way ahead, and think about story ideas and angles that link to these in some way. For example, if you’re an organisation concerned with animal welfare, you’ll want to put out messages around the time of school holidays, reminding people to make plans for their pets before they go away on vacation.
Even a brief look at the Sangonet calendar will make one thing obvious — there are a lot of international ‘Days’, dedicated to almost anything and everything you can think of, from the well-known World Aids Day on the 1st of December, to more obscure dates such as International Left-handers Day (August 13). This provides opportunities for story ideas, but also challenges. There are a lot of organisations and causes out there — and everybody is looking for media attention. You have to think of ways to break through the clutter and stand out.
Think creatively too. If you’re working in the area of health, don’t only pay attention to dates such as World Health Day and World Aids Day. Why not come up with a photographic project featuring health-related stories, to coincide with World Photography Day (August 19)?
And, while having a dedicated ‘Day’ or ‘Week’ provides a great excuse or hook for a story or news-worthy event, remember that no journalist will be interested in your story just because a given date is some or other ‘Day’. That’s just your entry point. You still have to have something new and significant to say, a story full of human interest, and something that’s tailored to appeal to the audiences of the media you’re approaching.