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Communicating On Key Dates: Guaranteed Impact

6 minute read

Alicia Perez

One of the golden rules in communication is knowing when the perfect moment is to launch your messages. The international calendar is full of key dates that are important to many different cultures — these are the celebrations that everyone wants to be a part of. And now that everything is digital, anyone can participate. That’s what makes these occasions the perfect PR opportunity to focus our content, event planning and even our product launches. And putting a brand into the context of an important day of the year is critical.

However, you’ve got to think strategically. Is launching something on the same day as Christmas or Father’s Day always a good idea? Getting a certain level of impact is important, and you’ve got to make sure what you’re launching fits into the context of the important day. It’s got to complement the occasion to organically gain visibility. Make your community want to engage with your content, that will determine your results.
That’s why it’s important to understand some variables that could affect the overall outcome. Let’s take a look at them:

What happens on key dates?

Events that are celebrated by large numbers of people are ideal for promotion and engagement due to several effects:

  • The “we are all one” effect, making groups easily identify with the message as it represents something everybody has in common.
  • The “just one day” effect which also has a powerful impact on the audience’s unconscious behaviour, generating a feeling of immediacy and urgency to consume content on that day.
  • The “associated values” effect where consumers relate their own values with the brand’s message.
  • The “relevance effect” where a brand’s content is shared across a variety of traditional and online channels and gets major coverage.

However, not all dates on the calendar are as effective. It’s obvious that we are more predisposed to share and consume content that we are emotionally attached to. That’s why brands that communicate on key dates should always assess the day and the groups who celebrate it to ensure that their message is represented the right way.

Let’s take a look as some brands and their communication campaigns where they used a key date to reach a greater audience:

NASA and the selfie of Earth

World Earth Day is celebrated internationally on the April 22nd. The official day was created by Gaylord Nelson as a means for everyone “to recognize planet Earth as our home.” NASA, the US space agency, launched a transmedia campaign that made an interesting association: the search for new life on different planets compared to life on planet Earth. A bit ambitious, don’t you think? To promote it, the created the hashtag #NoPlaceLikeHome and invited their followers on social media to share a selfie taken in their favourite places. Then they created a planet Earth visual made up of all the selfies they received. This was launched in 2014 and continued in 2015 when followers from their community sent in over 36 thousand different selfies to take part in the campaign.

This is the perfect example of the “we are all one” effect. They had so many people participating by transmitting a profound message on a targeted day. The used the tagline “Let’s explore our home planet too,” saying that while it was their mission is to view the Earth from space, that on Earth day they would create an image of Earth made up of all its inhabitants.

Nasa campaign

More and more brands, particularly in the automobile and technology industries have made other interesting associations of that day with green and environmental conservation messages. They have launched campaigns to try to improve their brand’s corporate image and show a more “ecofriendly” side to their business.

Strategic Doodle

Google is a brand that is very good at leveraging the emotional relationship between users and specific dates. When Google publishes a creative and particularly emotional Doodle, their content get attention from practically the entire digital universe. This is what happened on Earth Day, when they outdid themselves with a campaign that invited users to participate by taking a fun test: what type of animal are you? Then they asked users to share their results on social media. They even had the collaboration of influencers as part of their campaign with celebrities such as Edward Norton and Jared Leto talking about their results in a video that encouraged the community to make donations to international conservation organizations.

How to get your message to stand out

Apart from choosing the right day according to your target audience’s values, it’s also crucial to make sure that your message stands out from other campaigns that are vying for consumers’ attention. That’s why anticipation is a key element that can really make all the difference and give your brand a greater overall impact at the end of a campaign. Burger King did it, challenging McDonald´s on World Peace Day 2015.

Interesting idea, isn’t it? Burger King knew that this day was important considering all the armed conflict going on in the world and caught on that their main competitor McDonald’s was planning a campaign to commemorate the occasion. Instead, the two created a new product called the McWhopper, that was made up of ingredients from both brands to show the peace between them.

However, when the time came to announce the campaign, Burger King went on ahead with their own plan without warning McDonald’s. This caused a lot of conflict — some thought that it would gravely affect their reputation, while other saw it as a stroke of genius. Whether you see it as strategic or not, this is a good example of both the benefits and the risks associated on communicating on a key date. Always have your guard up.

Creating your own key date

If you can’t find a date that works for your brand, be a savvy marketer and make on up! That’s what the TV chef Jamie Oliver did by creating Food Revolution Day which became a multimedia campaign that’s put on every year. Jamie caught people’s attention on a massive scale through his change.org petition and created a specific day to support healthy eating habits using several elements:

  • Creating special sites and social media accounts for the campaign.
  • Inviting famous people to join the campaign as ambassadors like Paul McCartney, Hugh Jackman, and Jamie Cullum.
  • Producing videos, one of which featured these artists rapping a hip-hop number followed by the #FoodRevolutionDay hashtag

Jaime put all of this effort into reaching 1 million signatures that convinced G20 member-states to include education for healthy eating in all of their schools.

What key dates have worked best for your communication campaigns? Share them!

Alicia Perez

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