Quarter 1 of 2021 is officially done and dusted and as we gear up for the summer months ahead, it’s time to buckle down and get ready for the return of relative ‘normality’ one year on from the start of lockdown measures. The next few weeks are set to be an exciting time: the Rule of 6 is back in play and the upcoming re-opening of non-essential retail, outdoor dining and gyms mean that people’s sense of hope and excitement will spike. If your business is affected by these changes, now is the time to put the work and in place so that you can be prepared for reactive and short-lead ops especially.
TeamEV’s Account Executive, Holly, is back with her round up of top picks, key themes and best things to pitch this month!
KEY AWARENESS DAYS
‘Awareness Days’ are a PR person’s dream and not to be overlooked! If you Google “2021 content calendars” or “National awareness days”, you’ll soon see that there’s a date celebrating everything from smiling to saving the planet. To help you cut through all the noise, here’s April’s highlights:
1st – 30th – Stress Awareness Month and National Pet Month (UK only)
7th – World Health Day
10th – National Siblings Day
13th – Start of Ramadan
21st – World Creativity and Innovation Day
22nd – International Mother Earth Day
LAST MINUTE PITCHES
In terms of notable awareness days, we’d argue that April is actually a little lacklustre compared to many other months of the year. With Easter having arrived extremely early this year – and many lockdown restrictions still in place – there’s definitely been less ‘mainstream’ short-lead ops floating around than usual. However, it’s always worth checking #journorequests on Twitter and keeping an eye on the news to see if you can offer an expert comment or hot-takes on any trending topics.
Regardless, two of the most notable last-minute opportunities this month are Stress Awareness Month (April 1st – 30th) and International Mother Earth Day (April 22nd). From expert comments to unique angles for press releases and PR stunts, there are many avenues you could take with both of these topics. Do you have a case study about how your product or service is linked to reducing stress? Dig out some credible statistics and validate them with an industry expert comment (this can be yourself!) and you’re good to go. For the best chance of success, try to angle your pitch so that it parallels with topical news: e.g. anything stress-related could be tied in with the anniversary of the first lockdown, the imminent return of IRL work or the end of shielding for vulnerable people.
There are also many different angles that you could take with International Mother Earth Day too: from gift guides to profile opportunities, there are several last-minute opportunities out there for both brands and individuals. The key thing to consider is how relevant or innovative your idea is. For example, if you’re a venue banning all forms of single-use plastic, that’s a nice gesture – but it isn’t newsworthy. The most prominent conversation surrounding the environment and conservation is largely around the Netflix original documentary, Seaspiracy, which explores the biggest threats facing the future of the ocean. If your business ties in with sustainability or supports an ocean protection pledge, this could be a great springboard to utilise this month.
As always, don’t forget to have all of your essential information readily available if you’re pitching directly to journalists for inclusion in gift guides and product pages. This includes product or service descriptions, RRPs, ordering and purchasing information, cut-out product shots and high-res lifestyle imagery. Equally, if a journalist requires a physical sample for in-house photography or testing, ensure you’re ready to send it over to them. We’ve got a great guide to creating a press pack over on Pocket Sized PR so check it out!
EV’s Top Tip: Want to get ahead of next year’s crowd for these dates? For long lead titles, December and January 2022 will be the best time to begin pitching, whilst February through to early March is the best time for short-lead press.
SHORT LEAD VS LONG LEAD
Understanding the difference between long and short lead media and how to pitch accordingly is a topic we’ve already covered on EV. Insight; but to keep it short and sweet, the key to differentiating between the two is in the name!
Traditionally, ‘Short Lead’ has a turnaround of about 4-8 weeks from pitching, editing and publishing whereas ‘Long Lead’ follows a much longer timescale of anywhere from 3 – 6 months. However, largely due to the impact of COVID, there has definitely been an increase in the number of short-lead and last-minute opportunities available; if you want the best chance of success, it pays to get everything in order ahead of time.
SHORT LEAD: APRIL FOCUSES
Lighter days and nights are officially here! With the return of hospitality and leisure now firmly on the horizon as of April 12th, excitement is in the air and that’s definitely translating into many short-lead PR ops for both print and digital outlets. Seasonal listicles are always popular no matter what’s happening around us, and many journalists are currently busy compiling guides for new venue launches, re-openings and larger-scale events to look forward to this summer amongst several other topics.
With this in mind, now is the time to ensure that your PR house is in order: if you want to be included in any kind of hot list, digital guide or product page, you’ll need your boilerplate copy, spokesperson and hi-res imagery ready to pitch to journalists. Due to the fast-moving nature of press and media, journalists are very busy people and are constantly being bombarded with emails from PRs and brands. If you have everything clearly labelled and saved to a Dropbox folder or shared area, you’re much more likely to be successful than if a journalist has to chase you for multiple things. Don’t forget to make your email subject line short and sweet, with a couple of good key words in there too as journalists often go back and search their inbox when working on a specific story or feature.
Beyond April, there are several key awareness dates to keep in mind such as Mental Health Awareness Week (May 18th – 23rd) and World Wellbeing Week (May 21st – 28th). Equally, environmentalism will also continue to be making headlines over the next couple of months as May marks National Clean Air Month and also celebrates World Environment Day (May 5th) and Mother Ocean Day (May 10th).
In terms of the lockdown restrictions easing, May 17th is the next key date for your diary – after April 12th – which will see the return of indoor hospitality and leisure facilities such as cinemas and theatres, as well as domestic holidays. As we mentioned in What to pitch in March guide, the onset of National Vegetarian Week (11th – 16th May) and National BBQ Week (25th – 30th May)are also great short-lead opportunities to pitch for trade and consumer product pages, gift guides and listicles throughout this month.
Example Short Lead Forward Features:
Stylist – ‘Work/Life’ – Profile op: An interview page where a female personality and business professional describes their day-to-day work life. (Leadtime: ASAP – 4 weeks)
Closer – ‘Shopping’ – product pages: A full page of nine desirable objects of the week, including fashion, beauty, food & drink and home items. With prices and stockists. (Leadtime: ASAP – 4 weeks.)
House Beautiful – ‘Notebook’ – product page: The latest trends, buys and time-saving innovations for a different room each issue are showcased. With prices and stockists. (Leadtime: ASAP – 4 weeks.)
LONG LEAD: APRIL FOCUSES
Summer is only a few months away now, so it’s time to get ready to pitch for several long-lead features that may seem deceptively further away. This includes Father’s Day (June 20th) and Pride Month throughout June in the UK, whilst July will see a month-long emphasis on ‘plastic-free’ in consumer and sustainable press. From a consumer and product PR focus, we’d suggest keeping your eye on World Chocolate Day (7th July) and World Daquiri Day (19th July). Even if you’re not a chocolatier or a cocktail expert, you could explore collaborations with other businesses for a fun, seasonal angle!
Plus, with June 21st currently earmarked as the return to (relative) normality and the kick-off date for the Great British summer, we’d highly suggest getting ahead of the curve and to begin pitching summer trends, events and experiences to long-lead titles. With hospitality and leisure facilities scheduled to fully re-open with minimal restrictions in place, it’s set to be a summer to remember: on that note, approaching a mixture of regional, trade and national publications and pitching for inclusion in listicles and product pages is something that should firmly be on your April agenda.
As always, don’t forget to pay attention to the news, #journorequests on Twitter and any subsequent updates to pre-planned forward features. The key to success with the current PR landscape is to be flexible, agile and ready to jump into action: if we’ve learnt anything over the past year, it’s that nothing is set in stone.
Example Long Lead Forward Features:
25 Beautiful Homes – Shopping – ‘5 Best Buys’ – product page: 5 Best Buys – New products and collections, emerging trends, eco buys, award for service, best websites, investment buys, high street buys, factory shops, shopping pages. With descriptions, prices and stockists. (Leadtime: up to 3 months)
Good Housekeeping – ‘Bookshelf’ – review: Page showcasing new hardbacks, paperbacks and e-books. Sections include Hot Reads and Book of the Month. (Leadtime: up to 3 months)
Woman’s Health – ‘Food & Drink’ – product pages: Food product page based on a particular theme/food type (typically seasonal or trend-related). Features a ‘Three Of The Best’ round up with prices and stockists. (Leadtime: 2 – 3 months)
And that’s April 2021 wrapped… head on over to @eastvillagepr and let us know how you get on! We hope to see you achieving heaps of coverage, and don’t forget – you can unlock even more PR hints and tips over on Pocket Sized PR!