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Using a Holiday as Your News Hook

Lots of people in many organizations across the world try to find some connection between their organization and a holiday in order to get news coverage for their company, products or services.

The problem is, most of those people don’t dig deep to figure out a very specific, unique, interesting, valuable and – most of all – newsworthy angle for their “story.”

Just because it’s National Smile Day and you’re a dentist, that doesn’t mean you are automatically newsworthy all month – or at any point during the month. Just because it’s National Reading Week and you’re a bookstore… it’s America Saves Week and you’re a financial institution… it’s Black Friday and you’re a store or mall… You get the idea.

You need to dig deep, talk to a lot of people – inside and out of the organization – ask a lot of questions, and play Devil’s advocate for every story you think might be a good idea. That’s one of the main reasons why you should be thinking about spring and summer holidays in January, and winter holidays by June. (The other reason is that a lot of media plan their stories for big holidays and days of recognition well in advance – so you’ll need to pitch them early, too.)

Take American Heart Month, for example. Heart Month begins February 1st. We worked with one of the top 15 cardiovascular hospitals in the country four months in advance of Heart Month to go through process we described above. After a lot of ideas were cut from the list, we landed on something that would: (1) connect real people to something immediately actionable that would help them achieve better heart health, (2) in a way that only a hospital/doctor could advise, (3) that partnered with – and benefitted – a local non-profit to solve an additional community need beyond heart health, and (4) would definitely be of interest to the news.

We suggested that the hospital cover the adoption fees for all dogs at local animal shelters to encourage people to adopt a dog and get more active for better heart health, and the hospital’s cardiovascular doctors served as our spokespeople on-location at the shelters.

Not only did every local media outlet cover this story, but it was picked up by the Associated Press news team and covered all over the country. We then garnered even more news coverage later in the month when we provided updates on how many dogs had been adopted and shared the stories of people who adopted some of those dogs after seeing the first round of news stories.

It takes time. It takes effort. And it won’t be a home run every time. But just because a holiday sounds like it fits with your organization, doesn’t automatically make you newsworthy on that day. So take the time. Put in the effort. Because it WILL be worth it every time.