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Your promotion doesn’t happen in isolation. You have to compete for attention and links with competitor activity, industry events, new product launches, research reports and breaking news stories.

If you launch a piece of content at the wrong time, your story just might not get noticed. So it’s a good idea to map your campaign ideas and initiatives against what’s happening in your industry.

Once you understand what’s happening in the year ahead, you can plan where to invest your time, resources and energy. You’ll be able to answer questions such as:

  • Should you blow your promotional budget on that one big national event?
  • Should you instead concentrate on smaller local events spread throughout the year?
  • Should you try and do a mixture of both?

Some of what’s going on in your industry might be unpredictable, particularly competitor activity. But most of what’s happening is predictable and will happen at specific times.

Now you probably know most of the major events in your industry, but you probably don’t know them all. So it’s worthwhile doing some research into your industry and build as comprehensive a list as you can. Every one of the events you identify can give you some great link building opportunities.

For example, if you’re link building for your gourmet chocolate website, you should know that:

  • There are lots of stories, featured products, top 10 gift lists and so on created around Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas.
  • American Chocolate Week is held every year around the third week of March – you could take part nationally or you could piggyback and target some stories to bloggers or local press.
  • Over the summer, there are (say) four county festivals all within 100 miles of your business – could you take part, offer demos, interview people at the festival, and so on?

All obvious things to do and very productive if done well. But how about something a little bit different?

For example, from a quick bit of research in a chocolate cookbook, we found that asparagus and chocolate combine well to make a delicious dessert that apparently has aphrodisiac qualities.

That could be turned into a great story or article. How about a piece of content targeted at the start of the asparagus season around May?

And summer might not be your highest sales months so could you stimulate sales by publishing some recipes for chocolate and summer fruits?

Everything that happens in your industry can create link building opportunities. But if you just react and do things at the last minute, you’re not going to get maximum return for your effort.

However, plan ahead and you’ll see many opportunities open up – and you’ll be able to give them the time they deserve in advance.

We’ve created a simple worksheet that allows you to do this easily. Here’s an image of how the sheet starts off but as you add detail it will expand to multiple pages:

PR calendar


Here’s how to use it:

(i) Industry events – what’s happening in your industry?

List all the trade shows, exhibitions, publications (eg, year books, annual research reports) and other events relevant to your business. Even if you don’t have any intention of going, list them so that you can either piggy back on them or avoid a clash.

(ii) Your company events – what’s happening in your company?

Incorporating company events into your link building promotion means you’ll have a good, varied focus for your link building campaigns. And it also means that your return on investment for your other activities will be boosted by the additional traffic your links can attract.

Are you launching new products or ranges, are you running sales events, or special offers? Are you taking part in charitable events or sponsorships? What antics are your staff getting up to?

These are all things that can help your link building and you should be aware of them.

(iii) Relevant holidays – seasonal opportunities

Many businesses have times of the year when demand for their products is high. And interest is also likely to be high among the bloggers and journalists who comment on your industry. Think and act well ahead and you can secure some valuable links.

(iv) Initiatives – events you can create yourself

Complete the first three columns of the worksheet for the full year. You’ll then be able to see any months when nothing is happening.

Ask yourself if you are happy with that. If so fine, but if you’re like us, you’ll be uncomfortable with a month where there is no real promotional activity going on around your company.

So for those blank months, you can create events from nothing. For example if you did sell gourmet chocolate, you might build some content around that ‘chocolate and asparagus’ idea we talked about earlier.

The ‘What If’ plan

If you’ve followed the approach to creating your annual promotion plan, you’ll now have a great array of promotional ideas that will not only bring you business, but will bring you links and media coverage.

Now this next step is probably a bit of a luxury but it’s a fun way to add to the planning process. Get your staff or team together for a brainstorming session and ask yourselves these questions:

What are the predictions for what will happen in your industry?
How will you react if they do happen?

Have some fun and keep a note of any ideas you come up with. If there are some really good ideas in there, you’ll be prepared when unexpected breaking news happens. And you might also get some ideas for making news happen!


Originally published in Link Building Masterclass (2nd edition) by Ken McGaffin and Mark Nunney

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