content planning

Common concerns about the 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner

Thinking about buying my 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner or joining the Media Diary Owners’ Club?

It’s natural to worry about whether you’re making the right decision (and the consequences of making the wrong choice).

If you’re not familiar with the 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner, it’s an A4 desk diary that’s packed with awareness dates and key dates you can use to plan your media content.

If you want support and accountability you can also join the Media Diary Owners’ Club. In addition to your A4 desk diary, you’ll get: 

  • The Content Planning Masterclass (includes a workbook and online classes on content planning/repurposing plus creating shareable content)
  • digital version of the diary (so you can print off specific pages/sections)
  • Additional printables for use alongside the diary to help you plan your content
  • quarterly group coaching call with me to generate ideas for the following quarter and keep you on track.
  • A weekly content inspiration email (full of content ideas using upcoming dates from the diary)

You can find out more about it here.

Here are some of the most common concerns prospective customers raise about buying the Media Diary.

Concern 1: ‘I can’t afford it.’

Some prospective members tell me they love the idea of the 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner and/or Media Diary Owners’ Club and would love join if they could - but they can’t afford it.

My advice

If you’re not making much money - or are in the very early stages of your business - it’s understandable to be nervous about your marketing spend.

But the 2019 Media Diary is not just a diary - it’s packed full of awareness days and key dates you can use to plan your media content for the coming year. Not only will it save you time, it will also help you make more sales in your business.

Investing in the 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner, works out as around 10p a day (less if you grab the pre-order price). If you join the Media Diary Owners’ Club it’s less than 28p a day. So if you’re on a budget, it’s actually a really cost-effective marketing spend.

If you’re reading this post, you’re clearly an entrepreneurial sort. The first thing you need to do is change your mindset. Instead of saying ‘I can’t afford it’ ask yourself ‘‘what could I do to make it affordable?’ This list of ten things you can do to raise the money for training/business development should help you generate some ideas.

You might also want to consider the cost of researching all the awareness days or key dates yourself - do you have days to spare to do this. Or would it be a better use of your time to have them all in one place in your media diary?

Concern 2: 'I bought it last year and didn't use it as much as I hoped'

Some small business owners tell me they bought the 2018 Media Diary but haven't used it as much as they hoped. They're worried that if they buy it again, the same thing will happen.

My advice: 

Don't beat yourself up about it. We’ve all bought resources or signed up to online training programmes we haven’t used as much as we’d like to. Sometimes life or business (or both) just gets in the way. That doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t be able to create a content marketing plan for 2019 – and stick to it.

You should find this blog post helpful: what to do if you bought the 2019 Media Diary (but didn't use it as much as you'd hoped). 

Concern 3: ‘I don’t have time’

Some small business owners tell me they love the idea of the 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner but are so busy they don’t have time to create content - they’re too busy running their business.

My advice:

If you want to generate a constant stream of leads and sales for your business - and not be constantly wondering where your next customer is coming from, you need to give people a reason to visit your website. That means publishing regular content - on your blog/vlog, for your email subscribers, on social media and, ideally, in the press.

It’s great to be busy, but if you’re firefighting at the expense of marketing, in a few months time, you may find you're short of customers/clients. 

Are you really so busy that you can’t spare a few hours a week to invest in the long-term health of your business?

Concern 4: ‘It won’t work for me’

Some prospective customers say they love the idea of the 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner and Owners’ Club, but feel it won’t work for them because they don’t trust themselves to use the diary.

My advice:

If you like the idea of the diary, but are worried you won’t be able to stick to a content plan, I’d recommend you join the Media Diary Owners’ Club for extra accountability. In addition to your A4 desk diary, you’ll get:

  • The Content Planning Masterclass (includes a workbook and online classes on content planning/repurposing plus creating shareable content)
  • digital version of the diary (so you can print off specific pages/sections)
  • Additional printables for use alongside the diary to help you plan your content
  • quarterly group coaching call with me to generate ideas for the following quarter and keep you on track.
  • A weekly content inspiration email (full of content ideas using upcoming dates from the diary)

If you’re still not sure, ask yourself this: ‘Will I be happy if I’m still struggling with content creation this time next year?’

If the answer is ‘no’ you should definitely consider joining.

Concern 5: ‘I'm not based in the UK' 

Some prospective customers tell me they love the idea of the 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner and Owners’ Club, but are concerned that the dates will be UK specific (because that's where I'm based). 

My advice:

Most of the dates in the diary are generic i.e. they are relevant wherever you are in the world. Where they are specific to a particular country, we specify. However do bear in mind that the 2020 Media Diary is not intended to be static document. To get the best results from the diary,  you should use the dates provided as a starting point, then personalise it according the industry/industries that are relevant to you - and where you live.

Concern 6: ‘I do all my media planning online’

Some prospective customers tell me they love the idea of the 2020 Media Diary and Owners’ Club, but feel it’s not suitable for them because they do all their media planning online.

My advice:

If you like the idea of having all the key dates and awareness dates to plan your media content - you should definitely consider joining the Media Diary Owners Club as you’ll get access to a pdf version of the diary with all the key dates and awareness days listed in one place. 

You might also want to consider the cost of researching all the awareness days or key dates yourself - do you have days to spare to do this? Or would it be a better use of your time to have them all in one place in your media diary?

Concern 7: ‘I don’t like the size and layout of the diary’

Some prospective customers tell me they love the idea of the 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner , but don’t like the size and/or layout.

My advice:

Sadly, it’s impossible to create a diary with a size, shape and layout that will please absolutely everyone.

But while there are plenty of marketing planners out there, there are none (I am aware of) that offer hundreds of key dates and awareness days for small business owners. That’s the USP of the media diary.

Because we aim to include several awareness days for each day, it would be difficult to downsize to A5 unfortunately - you’d need a magnifying glass to read them.

If you like this approach to media content planning and want access to all the key dates and awareness days (without having to spend days researching them yourself), you should definitely consider buying one anyway or joining the Media Diary Owners Club as you’ll get access to a pdf version of the diary with all the dates in one place. 

Some media diary owners tell us they buy the diary and use it in conjunction with another diary/planner or notebook because they have their own special way of planning that couldn’t be replicated in any off-the-shelf diary/planner. That’s absolutely fine. In fact, this is exactly how I approach my own planning (although I definitely wouldn’t be without my media diary).

Concern 8: ‘I have a product based business’

Some prospective customers tell me they love the idea of the 2019 Media Diary and Owners’ Club, but don’t think it’s suitable for them because they have a product-based business.

My advice

You can use the same approach to marketing if you have a product or service-based business (and totally should).

Let’s say you choose Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day on January 17 (one of the dates included in the diary). If you’re a public speaking coach (an example of a service-based business), you might create content about New Year’s resolutions you should drop/keep if you want more speaking gigs in 2020. If you make/sell skincare products (an example of a product-based business), you could blog about the resolutions you should drop/keep if you want healthier skin in 2020.  

If you run a product-based business, the key is to position yourself as an expert. Instead of ‘selling’, think about how you can add value to your prospective customers – by sharing relevant advice/tips, for example.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to create some content that explains what your product is and how people can buy it, but if all you’re doing is ‘broadcasting’ about how brilliant your product is, people will soon switch off.

How To Create a Media Calendar for 2019 (and why you need to)

How To Create a Media Calendar  

Do you find it hard to be consistent with content creation?

You’re ‘good’ for a few weeks at time e.g. posting regularly on all your social media networks, blogging/vlogging, sending out your email newsletter….

Then things get busy.

Before you know it, it’s been days (or even weeks) since you’ve published any content. And it’s not always because you’re busy - sometimes you just feel like you’re all out of ideas.

If this sounds like you, please be reassured that you’re not alone. One of the biggest challenges of doing business online is being consistent with your content.

Creating a media calendar - that maps out your content across the entire year - is a great way to stay on top of your content. Not only will it help you stay consistent (what gets written down generally gets done), it will also ensure you never run out of timely content ideas that reflect what people are interested in or talking about at any given time (e.g. a new film, awareness day or a significant world event).

This is particularly important when it comes to pitching to the press, as when you send a pitch to a journalist, they’ll immediately ask themselves ‘why do people need to hear about this now?’

Mapping out your ideas well ahead of time will also help you be more creative with your content, re-purposing your blog posts into social media posts, short videos and infographics for example.

With that in mind, here’s a guide to creating your media calendar for 2019.

How to create a media calendar for 2019

1. Get a wall calendar that has a month-per-view, across the year

Ideally with enough space to write on each day. Or you can download my FREE 2019 media calendar here.

2. Block out half a day (or at least a couple of hours)

And take some time away from your usual place of work if you can, ideally somewhere where you feel relaxed e.g. a favourite cafe or hotel lobby. This is creative job and you need to get your ideas flowing. If you try to do it in fits and starts, not only will it take you longer, you’ll struggle to get into that creative zone where your ideas are flowing (which is exactly where you need to be).

3. Start adding key dates, awareness days and significant events to your calendar.

I suggest you do it in this order:

  • The obvious stuff like Christmas, New Year, Easter, summer, Halloween and so on...this may sound obvious, but when you’re busy with other things it’s easy to get sidetracked. Say you’re a fitness specialist and have some great story ideas around getting the perfect beach body you’d like to pitch to glossy magazines; most consumer magazines work 3-6 months ahead, so leave it until March to pitch it to a journalist and you could find you’ve left it too late. Knowing it was Baby Loss Awareness Week allowed me pitch this article on what to say to someone who has had a miscarriage to the Guardian.  Although it’s an interesting idea, I’m not sure they’d have run the story without that timely ‘hook’. 
  • Important events. This can include political events like budget days, government spending reviews, elections, party conferences, parliamentary debates, select committee meetings and so on. Whether you’re a leadership coach or a hair salon owner you are affected by political issues - from taxation to business law to changes in government policy - and these can all spark ideas for content.
  • Key sporting events can be great too. For example, knowing that the London Marathon was coming up inspired Jennifer Macdonald-Nethercott, marketing manager at  Meatsnacks to create this blog post on marathon recovery - what do you need?  
  • Royal/celebrity weddings, lunar eclipses, anniversaries...if it’s something people will be talking about (and the press will be covering) it should be on your media calendar.
  • Awareness days. From the ‘serious’ e.g. Babyloss Awareness Week, National Cancer Day to the more lighthearted e.g. National Chocolate Day or Eat Your Vegetables Day, awareness days and weeks can be a great ‘hook’ for content.

For example, knowing International Women’s Day was coming up inspired Laure Moyle to pitch this article to the Guardian on why she started her bespoke cake business. She has also used awareness days like National Chocolate Day to create fun content for her blog and social media channels. Beth Searle, founder of baby box business Be So Baby was  inspired to create this stop motion video for Instagram for National Punctuation Day. And Scottish parenting blogger Jenni Fuchs was inspired World Porridge Day to review a porridge cafe in Edinburgh. 

Do see my warning about awareness days though.

  • New films, book and TV programmes: Desert Island Discs can be a great ‘hook’ for media content. For example when music teacher Sally Thomas heard that former footballer David Beckham was going to be on the on iconic BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs she knew everyone would be talking about it, so she made a note of the date. Around the time the show was due to air, she turned this into a piece of content for the Musical Bumps Facebook page where she invited people to vote for the songs they’d listen to if they were stranded on a desert island.
  • Court cases. You might also want to add details of court cases that relate to your industry or sector. Let’s say you run a restaurant, for example. You spot a story about a restaurant owner who is fighting a court battle for the right to be allowed to serve burgers pink in the middle (this really happened, by the way). You make a note of the date the judge is likely to deliver a verdict and contact the media, offering to give your views on the matter.
  • Other key dates in your area of expertise. For example dyslexia expert Debbie Abrahams has key dates in the education sector on her media calendar e.g. GCSE/A level results, school offer day, (when parents are offered school places for their children), the triennial PISA study - all of which she uses to write blog posts and create content for her Facebook page. Having the SATs exams on her radar inspired her to pitch this opinion article to the Independent on why Sats make dyslexic children feel worthless.
  • Your own launches. It sounds obvious...but it’s so easy to forget to do this. Having launches of your own products and services on your calendar will encourage you to plan ahead and be more strategic with your content (for example, this post is part of the launch content for my Media Diary Owners’ Club).

How to find out about awareness days

There are various websites listing awareness days including Awareness Days UK and National Awareness Days. However if you’d like to save time - and get ideas on how to use them in your content - you can grab a copy of my 2019 media diary here

For more ideas on creating your media calendar, listening to my latest podcast episode - how to create a media calendar for 2019 (and why you need to).

Once you’ve marked up your media calendar, not only can you develop content ideas to coincide with those dates (as in the examples I’ve shared above), you can also plan ahead for events you know are coming up but have an uncertain outcome e.g. budget days or court cases (planning along the lines of ‘If the outcome is x, I can create a piece of content that does ‘y’).

And remember your media calendar isn’t a static thing - you should be adding to it throughout the year…

How to prepare for Your Year in PR

Committing to attend Your Year in PR, whether for just one day or for both days, is a big investment of your time and money. To get the most out of the experience, preparation is vital.

There is nothing more annoying than arriving at an event feeling flustered because you’re late, don’t have everything you need – or even that you haven’t got the dress code right for the occasion.

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about preparing for Your Year in PR.

1.Set up a dedicated email folder for Your Year in PR

Redirect any mail relating to Your Year in PR to the folder, so you can find emails relating to the event easily - including when the pre-event call is and the directions you'll need on the day.

Whitelist my email address (i.e. add it to a safe list of emails) to ensure they don’t end up in spam. The method for doing this will vary according to your email provider, but if you Google ‘how to whitelist an address with [INSERT NAME OF EMAIL PROVIDER]’ you can easily find instructions.

2.Introduce yourself in the Your Year in PR Facebook Group and connect with other delegates

Attending live events is not just about the speakers; you also get to connect with like-minded business owners you might end up working with in the future.  But walking into a conference can be hard – particularly when you don’t know many people.

Even if you haven’t met in person, it’s much easier to walk into an event when you ‘know’ people from social media.  There's a private Facebook Group for Your Year in PR delegates. This is the place to get to know people, pose questions (both to myself and other delegates) and have conversations.  Do go ahead and introduce yourself to everyone.

The Your Year in PR delegates 2017

4.Join Twitter (if you haven’t already)

Twitter is the social media network where most journalists hang out - and when you're planning your content and PR for the year ahead, you'll find that Twitter is a great place to share your content. So if you’re not already active on Twitter, you should think about setting up an account and starting to use it.  (It's not essential, just something I recommend). 

If you’re a complete newbie, this article on how to get started with Twitter is a useful guide.

Your Year in PR has a dedicated Twitter hashtag you can use before, during and after the event (#YYIPR17) which can be a great way to find and stay in touch with other delegates.

If you want to get more experience of using Twitter, do join my #soulfulprhour Twitter chat on Sunday evenings 8-9pm (BST). If you're a complete newbie, read my guide on how to take part in a Twitter chat.

You might also want to follow our Your Year in PR Twitter list.

5. Research the venue and book travel in advance

The last thing you want is to arrive at the event late, sweaty and flustered, having spent half an hour running around looking for the venue. So book your travel well in advance if you can, get the exact address of the venue and plan your route from the station/airport/car park. Booking travel well in advance can also help you save money on attending the conference.

Plan to arrive early if you can (the doors open at 9:15am), but unless it is unavoidable, we would ask you not to arrive before that time. The hour or so leading up to the start of an event can be a busy (and sometimes stressful) time. Allowing us to get on with our preparations uninterrupted will help you have a much better conference experience (and give you time to gather your thoughts before you arrive). There are plenty of cafes around, including Shoreditch Grind,  Look Mum No Hands and Central Street Cafe, where you can grab a coffee.

6. Study the conference schedule

Spend some time familiarising yourself with the conference schedule, including the time the doors open and timings for breaks and lunch. This will help you plan for networking opportunities. Many conferences have networking over coffee and/or breakfast before the event start, which can be a great time to connect with others delegates and introduce yourself to speakers.  We'll post the Your Year in PR schedule here as soon as it's confirmed.

7. Do some background reading

If there are topics being covered in the conference that are unfamiliar to you, it can be a good idea to do some background reading.  My book, Your Press Release is Breaking My Heart, is a great starting point for Your Year in PR delegates (but is absolutely not compulsory) and will be particularly helpful if you're fairly new to PR.

 

If you're new to PR my book is a great starting point but is absolutely not compulsory

8. Organise your marketing materials

Make sure you have plenty of up-to-date business cards to share with people you meet at the event and any other materials you might want to share. For example, even if I’m not speaking at an event, I usually take along some copies of my book and media diary which often results in online sales.

9. Consider blogging about your experience

Attending a live event can be overwhelming. There is so much information coming at you, it can be easy to miss things. Reflecting on your experience and setting goals can be a great way to document your experienceYou may also be able to turn it into useful content for your own audience.

I’d recommend writing a ‘before’ and ‘after’ blog post. Stating publicly on your blog that you are attending an event also gives you accountability (telling your audience you’re learning how to plan your PR strategy means you have to follow through, right?).

Here's some content the delegates from my Soulful PR Live event created:-

Why I’ve decided to attend a PR conference by Adanna Bankole

How to overcome secret nerves about attending networking events by Clare Josa

How to prepare for an important conference by Cathy Wassell

Into the lion’s den: five mindset strategies that will have you waking into a conferences feeling like you can take on the world by Rebecca Morley

Keeping your energy high at live events – five top tips by Raphaelle Cox

10. Do a technology check

Your Year in PR delegates are welcome to bring a laptop or tablet to the event, but a pen and paper will do just fine.

If you are bringing some tech, make sure all your electronic devices are fully charged before the event. The venue does have wall sockets, but only a handful – some of which will be in use for the audio and visual equipment – so don’t rely on them being available.

Personally I always carry a portable charger for my phone and it’s definitely worth investing in one. I use the Juice Bar.

It’s also worth checking you have enough memory on your phone for taking photos and videos at the event.

Oh and don’t forget your favourite notebook and pen. We will have spare paper and pens, but collecting your thoughts in one place is usually much better than scribbling on scraps of paper that can easily be lost.  And of course, you'll be picking up your 2018 Media Diary at the event!

11. Plan your outfit (yes really!) 

Your Year in PR delegates are generally casual/smart casual, which is pretty typical of most conferences these days, so anything goes, but if you run your own business, you are your brand. It’s worth thinking about how you want that brand to be perceived and how that is reflected in your personal appearance on the day.

Do bear in mind that you will be sitting around for long periods of time and that the venue is air-conditioned so can get chilly (so having a jumper or cardi in your bag is a good idea). And if you go for killer heels, you might be glad of a change of shoes for the journey home.

12. Design your follow-up strategy (and block out time for it)

It’s easy to leave a conference full of brilliant ideas – that’s what events are all about. Sadly, it’s just as easy to get bogged down the minute you get back to your desk,  forget everything you’ve learned and not follow up on the opportunities you’ve created. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by blocking out a few hours (ideally as soon as you get back to your desk) to reflect on what you’ve learned and follow up on the connections you’ve made.

The great news for Your Year in PR delegates is that we’ve created Day 2 of the event as a content creation day, an opportunity to really get to grips with all the learning from day one, and start to formulate a plan to put into action everything they’ve learnt.

Like the idea of starting 2018 with a fully-fleshed out PR plan for your business?  Why not join me and an inspirational group of like minded people at Your Year in PR in London on November 23 & 24.