How to Create a PR Calendar: Random Content Gets Random Results

28 mins read

An effective PR campaign is the result of a good strategic plan. That begins with creating a plan for earned and branded content, as well as deadlines, milestone events, and industry events. Planning is crucial to successful PR results, and a PR calendar is one essential element. And it’s a secret weapon of many PR agencies and PR managers.

Think of it as your content roadmap that guarantees a steady flow of media coverage, even if you don’t yet know the major news announcements. Creating it is not something flashy or creative, but it is very important for a strong media placement schedule. Here, in this post, you’ll discover why you need to start using a PR calendar and how it can boost earned media outcomes, track goals, and keep all the components of a PR plan aligned.

What is a PR Сalendar?

A PR calendar is a schedule or plan of your project or campaign that shows all the main parts required to pitch and assured PR or media coverage. It can also highlight them in relation to your other important marketing campaigns and business events, so you can track how your PR schedule aligns with the rest of the business plan.

An important note about a PR calendar is that it’s not just a table with dates of publication or final deadlines. It breaks down the different parts of the process and all the tasks associated with them into a handy timeline.

All the minor deadlines, task-related meetings and appointments, and requests for visuals from the design team and content from the executives should be there. All the tasks and activities you can think of in advance are required to provide great coverage.

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Why Do You Need a PR Calendar?

You probably already know about and have business calendars, content calendars, marketing calendars, and more. Why do PR calendars need to be used as well, and why should you and your company have one? Is it just to stay more organized? Yes, and no. It’s able to give you much more, than just a place to land all your thoughts and plans.

 It’s about:

It will help you see more clearly what you are doing and when. You’ll have a quick view of where you have to concentrate in both the short and long term. This means that you can put all your time and efforts into activities that need your help and will help you achieve your brand objectives and target the right audiences more effectively.

A PR calendar will be handy for coordinating public relations with other business activities. Imagine the different calendars in your Google Calendar as different parts of your PR plans and marketing. They each provide you with a separate vision, but by merging them, you may get the whole picture. The general business calendar is the main part that everything else should be based on. The marketing calendar is the second part — how you present your main calendar to your clients or managers through things like launches and campaigns. The PR calendar can be the third part that shows what activities you’ll use to execute your PR strategy and particular campaigns.

It will assist in planning PR around holidays and events. Another way a PR calendar will make your whole team’s work better is through the capability to be prepared in advance for any seasonal holidays or events your team might want to participate in for higher reach, awareness, and a stronger image. Thousands of events and holidays could bring your business some attention with collective promotion, so make sure you look beyond your average activities. Remember to use the relevant ones, though. Those important, time-sensitive activities can catch you at a bad time when you are not ready for them. As a result, the preparation work that must be planned ahead of time becomes critical.

Drawing attention to the dates that are specific to your brand (such as launches of new products, collections, or brand initiatives or anniversaries) will help you plan, align, and schedule activities to promote them. It will demonstrate to you who your targets are and how many weeks or months in advance you need to reach out to them about your forthcoming news—giving you plenty of time to start planning that perfect pitch.

It’s helpful to set up easier internal and external partners as well. When you’re partnering as much as public relations requires, you have a lot of different individuals to whom you are accountable: external collaborators, like reporters and publishers, colleagues and co-workers, and freelancers collaborating with your brand. So a PR calendar will help you avoid delays, budget overruns, and more. 

A PR calendar will create a steady flow of activities that are much more successful than ‘one-off’ PR hits. Constant PR effort can feel tiring, but continuing to do it will keep you visible and relevant. The more activities you have, the more coverage you may acquire and share with your followers, clients, and media network.

How to Create a PR Calendar?

If you’re not having the awareness you planned or you’re feeling like you’ve done everything you could but your efforts are still invisible, then it’s time to recreate your strategy and choose the appropriate strategies.

Once you have your plan done, it’s time to create a PR calendar. Where do you get started? Here’s how to make it:

1. Choose your format

Create an Excel spreadsheet. You can also use Word or another program, but many people find Excel handy to use and useful for being able to change things around and link things together more visually.

Your events, posts, and other activities will be listed in one column below each other (look at the examples at the end of the article). The months of the year will be listed in the columns from left to right.

2. Decide on your content types

Once you’ve chosen where you will fulfill your PR calendar, it’s time to begin creating your campaigns and the processes that go with them. One of the first steps you’ll need to take is to detect the types of content you’ll need to implement and amplify your content and PR coverage.

The topics to include are:

The details of what you need to put in your PR calendar will, of course, depend on your business, and you’ll need to do some research before deciding what is relevant. A successful monthly or annual plan contains quite a bit of preliminary work before you start filling in details on the calendar. Make a brainstorm with your team, and research the elements. Here are some ideas to help you get started on the types of activities to consider and include:

  • High-level dates to include here may be the start and end of the financial year, budget deadlines, planned product launches, the company’s anniversary, and major annual events.
  • Highlight exhibitions the company plans to attend, as well as conferences and speaker opportunities. Does the company participate in a sales conference, an annual think-in, or a corporate team-building exercise?  
  • Press releases: new products, services, initiatives, and collaborations.
  • Awards deadlines.
  • Topic/theme focus for key publications.
  • Awareness days/weeks.
  • Annual events where relevant (for example, the budget).
  • Seasonal events (Easter, Halloween, New Year, Christmas, summer, beginning of school, exam time).
  • Events – you will be hosting or participating in them.
  • Speaker opportunities—to pitch yourself.
  • Feature article placement.
  • Guest blogging.
  • Reviewing/updating materials.
  • Reviewing/updating website.
  • Newsletter, in hard copy or digital format.
  • Blog.
  • Monitoring competitors and news stories.
  • Social media posts.
  • Keeping in touch with key bloggers, influencers, and media contacts.

You can maintain and keep in touch with others if you plan your PR activities in this manner. Putting the calendar together is done alongside doing some research for each part—to find the right opportunities and also to find specific contacts with whom to collaborate. Finding the right media contacts who will be interested in partnering with you, and how to get them interested is a key part of your PR strategy. If you want to make your job easier, check out the PRNEWS.IO service.

PRNews.io is a budget-friendly service for creating content, discovering and pitching relevant journalists, and distributing your content. PRNEWS.IO has years of copywriting and journalism experience in writing engaging articles, advertising posts, and professional press releases. Creating and distributing the content is their service, and the team does it successfully. You can be sure to have your content written, checked, approved by you, and sent out within two days. 

3. Keep moving parts organized

Finally, you need to present the calendar to your team, use it, and maintain it. It seems obvious, but checking the PR calendar when you start working each day is a new habit you should obtain.

Here are a few ways you can make a building that routine easier:

  • Set color-coding guidelines to make the information easily perceived for “quick checks”.
  • Block off time to update the calendar every week.
  • Use the calendar in team meetings (or directly after).

PR Calendar Examples

Even the most basic strategy will prove invaluable in the long run. Creating a PR schedule is a simple next step after developing your strategy. Follow these steps to complete the task successfully. Make a tally sheet in Excel. You could use Word or a similar application, but I feel that Excel’s flexibility and the ease with which I can make visual connections between different sections make it my program of choice. Everything you do will be laid down neatly in a single column. Columns will be labeled from left to right according to the months of the year. And now, at long last, your very own PR calendar is complete and ready for your perusal. Supporting strands of activity with others is made easier with careful planning.

Jessica, Manager at iBoysoft

Industry experts about PR Calendar

Victoria Miville from OpenHousePublicRelations.com

Victoria Miville from OpenHousePublicRelations.com

Great ideas in your original blog post! A timely addition could be monitoring keywords and related trending topics. This could fit into your #2 point along with monitoring competitors and news stories. 

Monitoring trending topics and keywords provides an opportunity to develop timely pitches that do not require a new product/service. Additionally, most media outlets have SEO or affiliate earnings built into their business model so supporting a pitch with trending facts or trending ecommerce stats adds further appeal to the pitch. 

Nikolay Krastev, a freelance SEO specialist from Nikolaykrastev.com

Start by setting goals for your PR efforts. This will help you determine what events, news, and other items you want to include on your calendar.

Consider the timing of your events and news items. For example, if you’re promoting a new product, you might want to schedule a press release and media outreach a few weeks before the product launch.

Be sure to coordinate with other departments, such as marketing and sales, to avoid conflicts and ensure that your PR efforts align with overall company goals.

Use a variety of tactics to reach your target audience, including press releases, media interviews, and social media campaigns.

Monitor and track the success of your PR efforts, and use this information to adjust your calendar and tactics as needed.

Be flexible and willing to adapt to changing circumstances. For example, if a major news event occurs that is relevant to your industry, you may need to adjust your calendar to address it.

Overall, the key to success with a public relations calendar is to have a clear strategy, coordinate with other departments, and be flexible and adaptable.

Thomas Niemczewski, CEO and Founder at Dream Chasers

One of the most important tips for creating a successful public relations calendar is to start planning well in advance. Planning ahead allows businesses to take advantage of long-term opportunities and to make sure they have ample time to prepare for events or campaigns.

While planning ahead is important, it is also important to make room for flexibility in your calendar. No matter how much planning goes into a public relations calendar, unexpected events or opportunities may come up that need to be addressed quickly. By allowing some room for flexibility, businesses can take advantage of these opportunities.

Another key to having a successful public relations calendar is to incorporate multiple media outlets into your plans. From television and radio to digital and print, there are multiple ways to get your message out to the public. Utilizing different media outlets can help to ensure that your message is heard by a wide variety of people.

When creating a public relations calendar, it is important to leverage all of your available resources. From in-house staff to outside agencies and vendors, make sure to include everyone who can help in your planning and execution. Utilizing your resources can help to ensure that any campaigns or initiatives are successful.

Finally, it is important to track your progress and review your calendar regularly. This can help to ensure that campaigns and initiatives are executed on time and to the best of their abilities. It can also help to identify any areas of improvement that need to be addressed.

Jimmy Huh, CEO and Founder | JH SEO

Jimmy Huh, CEO and Founder | JH SEO

The first tip is to plan ahead. Make sure to give yourself enough time to properly plan and execute your PR activities. Establish a timeline, budget, and goals for each activity and allot enough time to complete it successfully. Next is to be organized. Keep track of your PR activities by using a spreadsheet or calendar. This will help you stay organized and avoid any missed deadlines or double bookings. You also need to be flexible. While PR usually requires a lot of planning, it is important to be flexible when necessary. If a media opportunity arises or a timeline needs to be adjusted, don’t be afraid to adjust your public relations calendar. In addition, keep it simple. Stick to the basics and focus on a few key activities that you know you can complete successfully. Lastly is to measure your success. Make sure to track the success of your PR activities. This will help you understand what is working and what needs improvement.

Bill Corbett, Jr., Corbett Public Relations Public 

Public Relations, Crisis PR, PR, Personal Branding Coach, TV Guest Booker, Video, Media Training Expert, Personal Branding Coach - Long Island, New York

Leverage the PR calendar as a tool to develop media pitch ideas. Special awareness days, weeks and months are often used by the media to help them focus on a topic or trend.

Calendars allow you to predict the future. Every year we know that the media will do black Friday stories, which means that they want to speak with retailers. On Cyber Monday they want to speak with ecommerce companies and on April 15, we know they will want to speak with accountants with last min tax tips.

Also knowing that the media will be paying attention to a topic means that the competition to get coverage will also be more challenging. With a calendar and alerts set up well in advance, new media lists, press release, data and pitches can be down well in advance to beat the competition. It is also important to know that the media may be so inundated with pitches that its not a great time to contact them, instead pivot and stay away from pitching a topic on one of these days. For example, Giving Tuesday has received a lot of attention and many charities see to rase funds and secure publicity on this day. There are so many seeking attention more are disappointed than those who get to share their message.

Every month of the year develop a theme where a specific topic or subject will be the focus of attention. These themes can connect with holidays and awareness weeks, but in general they allow for attention to be paid to a topic, and a business’s expertise or knowledge in this area.

Secure editorial calendars for key publications and overly them with your PR calendar.

Calendars are great and very helpful. However, don’t be locked to only working on items that are on your calendar. Use this planning as your foundation and base for PR efforts. However don’t miss out on breaking news and other opportunities that present themselves every week. Leave some time in your calendar to address the issues of the day, if there is a need. Having a calendar will generate work, it should also allow for flexibility.

Don’t over book your calendar. Use your PR calendar to spread out work for the entire year.

David W. Craig, Managing and Founding Partner at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC

We begin to create our Public Relations Calendar by first adding in holidays and special occasions that can’t be changed or replaced so we can craft our schedule around those days. These specific days give us a starting place that we can use to create an impactful, effective PR calendar.

These days include important holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and more.

Then, we fill in the calendar with special occasions that will fit into our editorial calendar, like Pride Month, Black History Month, and more.

These holidays and special occasions give us a starting place and can help us come up with ideas for our PR campaigns.

Then we begin to fill in the rest of the year and create an evenly spaced, strategically planned PR calendar to ensure we’re making the best decisions throughout the year and have enough time to properly plan each step.

This is how we create our PR calendar each year and we’re currently beginning to plan 2023. This easy first step allows us to get started on the right foot and is effective for us

Simon Bacher, Co-Founder of the start-up Simya Solutions, the creator of the Ling App

Plot The Key PR Details

Most PR calendars only include the title or a very short description of the PR activity or project. Because PR calendars are usually placed on Excel Sheets or other digital visual presentations, I recommend clipping the key details to save time and effort going back and forth between the calendar and the PR project plans. Everyone in the PR, marketing, and other related teams can quickly access the calendar without so many follow-up questions because the details are already plotted.

Mika Tomada, a PR Specialist at Pearl Lemon PR

Knowing and getting comfortable with the calendar tool that you use is one tip I highly encourage you to take. This will help make the other processes a whole lot easier, and if you are knowledgeable enough about the tool you are using, your chances of having an effective and creative outcome are high.

Additionally, it is highly beneficial to analyze your market and generate PR ideas alongside your team in order to identify the most successful strategies. Similar to how content ideas are generated, this brainstorming process produces concepts.

Sorting your ideas into several categories will help you stay organized and cut down on time as you think.

Carla Diaz, Cofounder of Broadband

PR calendars are a great way to set out clear objectives for a certain period of time. Rather than just winging it – which will probably get you mediocre results – utilizing a PR calendar will help you to identify core customer needs throughout the year and create content and manage public relations more effectively. My advice for anyone who plans on creating a PR calendar is that you need to align your content to your goals for the year. While you can simply create different content to go out and manage your PR, it’s better to have a clear goal for different points in time. This will help you to create a general theme for your PR strategy throughout the year and thereby give your audience a more consistent experience with your business. Consistency can make a big difference to the way that your customers want to interact with your brand, so this is a great way to increase conversions and manage your business and reputation.

Final Words

A PR calendar will alleviate the strain and overwhelm of juggling multiple projects in multiple steps. However, only when you use it, do you achieve your PR goals and complete your planned tasks on time to the fullest extent. If you don’t have a calendar yet, it’s time to start building one and introducing it to your team now.

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