This is a special year for me personally. That’s because it’s a leap year and I can celebrate my friend Robert’s birthday once more. 2004 also, and undoubtedly more importantly, brings a general election and The Summer Olympic Games.
When plotting your 2004 PR strategy, it’s important to note what some of the big stories will be and when important events fall so you can take advantage of the news cycle. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of stories that I think will dominate headlines and a calendar of important events and holidays.
THE NEWS CYCLE IN 2004
1. The Election: Who will do battle with George W. Bush?
2. Rebuilding Iraq: Money well spent or a quagmire?
3. War On Terror: Will Osama bin Laden been caught? Will there be another big terrorist attack?
4. Middle East: Is peace on the horizon?
5. The Economy: Is it on the rebound? Are we out of the recession?
6. The Olympics: The Games return to Athens, is Greece ready?
Ideas: Anything election related. Is your company helping “get out the vote?” Do you have an employee training for the Olympics? Remember how much free PR Home Depot got by sponsoring and employing Winter Olympic athletes in 2002. Creative thinking should be the cornerstone of your pr strategy.
1. Wall Street Scandals: Will the scandals continue or has everyone finally learned their lesson?
2. The Economy: Unemployment and inflation concerns abound. Will there be an uptick?
3. Venture Capital: This may be the year that private investment returns.
4. Consolidation: As the economy improves, so does merger and acquisition activity.
5. Business Spending: Will businesses begin to spend money again?
6. Overseas Outsourcing: Less jobs for Americans, more job overseas. A trend that continues or dies?
7. Tax Cuts: The economy will feel the effect of tax cuts come January. Could be a nice lift for consumers.
8. The Energy Bill: Once its revived, this will be big news in the biz pages.
Ideas: Is your business finally upgrading its equipment or hiring again? If so, it’s part of a newsworthy trend. Local publications will be on the lookout for companies getting new funding. Local media should be part of your pr strategy – even if you are a national or global company.
1. Voice-Over-IP: The battle for your phone is going to be huge news.
2. Digital Music: Will Napster take over the world again? We’ll find out.
3. Microsoft: The Europeans may finally smack down the monopoly. A big ripple effect across the industry.
4. The Internet: It’s back, everyone run! With a Google IPO on deck, expect the idea of the ‘Net to be hot again.
Ideas: Internet telephony is really a huge story and if you’re in the game, you’ll be getting some ink. The same goes for digital music. Keep an eye on social networking and blogging as well. Those two trends may rear their heads again.
1. Music: Is pop music on its way out and rock on its way back in? Music trends impact everything from clothes to cars.
2. Movies: Another “Harry Potter” movie and another “Spiderman” movie.
3. Debutantes: Will Paris Hilton still be hot? Who cares, but the media pays attention.
4. Poker: Every cable station has a poker show now. At least it seems that way. The new “reality” television.
Ideas: It’s hard to anticipate what will be hot, but you can latch on to trends quickly. Even if your company isn’t a trendsetter, your pr strategy should position those within your company as experts to comment on industry trends.
1. Retail: Christmas isn’t shaping up as big as originally thought, but January may be huge.
2. Bundling: Cable and phone companies will try to bundle services and steal each other’s customers.
3. Automotive: Will automakers finally push more fuel efficient vehicles?
Ideas: Maybe the holidays weren’t big, but with tax cuts bringing in extra cash, gift cards being popular and those post-holiday sales, January will be a big month for retailers to get some PR and move product.
1. The Olympics: The excitement and spirit of competition may be overshadowed by politics and terrorism.
2. Hockey: When the puck stops in June, it may be the end of the NHL for more than a year as labor woes weigh.
3. Baseball: National pastime returns to limelight thanks to Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs being serious contenders.
Ideas: I met someone recently who does PR for a minor league hockey team and they said they’re salivating over a potential NHL strike/lockout. “The best PR opportunity for us ever,” he told me. That’s how you take advantage of the situation – by thinking ahead.
Trade Shows: The year gets off with a huge bang thanks to the Consumer Electronics Show and International Builders’ Show back-to-back in Las Vegas during January. These two shows grab a lot of headlines with the Consumer Electronics Show getting a lot of play in both the consumer and trade press. Trade shows are a good press to meet the media and network. I’ve listed the dates of same major tradeshows, but always keep an eye out for shows in your business arena.
TRADE SHOW CALENDAR
1/5 to 1/9: Macworld Conference & Expo – San Francisco, CA
1/5 to 1/11: Consumer Electronics Show – Las Vegas, NV
1/9 to 1/11: Adventures In Travel Expo – New York, NY
1/19 to 1/22: International Builders’ Show – Las Vegas, NV
1/20 to 1/23: LinuxWorld Conference & Expo – New York, NY
1/20 to 1/24: American Society for Law Enforcement Training Expo – St. Louis, MO
2/11 to 2/13: Retail Advertising Conference – Chicago, IL
3/22 to 3/24: CTIA Wireless – Atlanta, GA
5/24 to 5/26: AD:TECH San Francisco – San Francisco, CA
7/12 to 7/15: Macworld Conference & Expo – Boston, MA
8/2 to 8/5: LinuxWorld Conference & Expo – San Francisco, CA
10/5 to 10/7: PC EXPO/TECHXNY – New York, NY
10/23 to 10/26: Public Relations Society of America Conference – New York, NY
10/25 to 10/27: CTIA Wireless – San Francisco, CA
11/8 to 11/10: AD:TECH New York – New York, NY
11/15 to 11/18: COMDEX Fall – Las Vegas, NV
Source: Tradeshow Week Magazine
Politics: With a general election this year, politics will dominate the headlines. January brings the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, historically the benchmarks for the rest of the year. Keep an eye on March 2, also known as Super Tuesday, when thirteen states – including California, New York and Texas – hold their primaries. The election also means that the two largest political parties will hold their national conventions.
1/19: Democratic Primary – Iowa
1/27: Democratic Primary – New Hampshire
2/3: Democratic Primary – Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, Oklahoma
3/2: Democratic Primary – Minnesota, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont
3/9: Democratic Primary – Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi
6/26 to 6/29: Democratic National Convention – Boston, MA
8/30 to 9/2: Republican National Convention – New York, NY
9/30: Presidential Debate – Coral Gables, FL
10/5: Vice-Presidential Debate – Cleveland, OH
10/8: Presidential Debate – St. Louis, MO
10/13: Presidential Debate – Tempe, AZ
11/2: General Election – National
Source: The Green Papers
Holidays: Valentines Day falls on a Saturday this year and Independence Day is on a Sunday. Keep this in mind when pitching holiday-focused stories. 2004 is a “leap year” which means we add February 29 to the calendar. Try to find a leap year-focused pitch and take advantage of this free day.
1/1: New Year’s Day
1/19: Martin Luther King Day
1/22: Chinese New Year
2/2: Groundhog Day
2/14: Valentines Day
2/19: Presidents Day
2/29: Leap Year
3/17: St. Patrick’s Day
3/20: First Day of Spring
4/4: Palm Sunday
4/9: Good Friday
4/22: Earth Day
4/30: Arbor Day
5/9: Mothers Day
5/15: Armed Forces Day
5/31: Memorial Day
6/14: Flag Day
6/20: Fathers Day
7/4: Independence Day
9/6: Labor Day
9/11: Patriots Day
9/16: Rosh Hashanah
9/25: Yom Kippur
10/11: Columbus Day
11/11: Veterans Day
12/7: Pearl Harbor Day and Hanukkah
12/25: Christmas Day
12/31: New Year’s Eve
Source: Various calendars
8/13 to 8/29: Summer Olympic Games – Athens, Greece
Source: International Olympic Committee
This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.