Tying your news to major or minor holidays like Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day can help you generate publicity for your business, but it means competing against other businesses that are doing the same thing. Instead, choose a date on the calendar, anoint it as your own holiday, and use it to publicize your business or a special event you're sponsoring.
American Express, for example, celebrates Small Business Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It encourages people to shop locally. Participating small businesses celebrate, too, with special sales and other promotions. American Express even gives them free marketing packages with logos, banners, signs and social media templates.
But your day doesn't have to be that grandiose or far-reaching. You can limit it to your own community. BookPeople, an independent bookstore in Austin, Texas, has National Bookstore Day this year on Saturday, Aug. 16. That's when patrons can enjoy a poetry-a-thon, learn about new authors, and come for lots of giveaways including cake, champagne and free books.
Instead of creating only a holiday, you might also create your own week of the year and month of the year so you have a bigger window of time for others to promote you.
If you want international recognition, submit your holiday to Chase's Calendar of Events, a giant reference book of special days and celebrations. It's found in most libraries and used by journalists who are looking for story ideas, particularly on slow news days. Go to Chase's website and submit an entry for free. The deadline for inclusion in the annual print edition is the previous April 15, an easy date to remember.
You can also register your date at the National Day Calendar site.
A month or two before your special holiday, you can start promoting. If you're targeting national magazines, promote six months in advance because some publications plan that far ahead.
The secret to generating great publicity is to piggyback an idea, an event or helpful content onto your holiday. The owner of a chain of dog grooming salons wouldn't email a journalist and explain that Nov. 2 is "Hug Your Husky Day" and expect a lot of publicity. Instead, she would add tips, like a video series on how to groom Huskies, or a list of grooming tips along with before-and-after photos of a Husky the salon has groomed.
Here are some promotion ideas to get you started:
Sponsor a contest. Announce the winners on your holiday. Offer a valuable prize to encourage entries, and use social media to promote it.
Create a special event that ties into your holiday and submit it to online calendars. You'll find dozens of free services like Craigslist, Eventful and Eventbrite. There also paid event promotion services that will distribute your event listing to dozens and in some cases hundreds of newspapers, websites, radio stations and email lists for a fee, if you want to save yourself time.
Pitch local media. Fun, wacky holidays attract lots of media attention. If you have visuals, your local TV stations will be more interested.
Create pithy or funny quotations related to your holiday or use quotes from famous people. Dress up the quotes with a graphics program like Quozio or Canva and share on Pinterest. Link to your website where visitors can find more information.
Write a press release. Send it to targeted media, post it at your website, upload it to a free press release site, or use one of the paid press release distribution services.
Tie your holiday to the date of your book launch. This works for fiction and nonfiction.
Create YouTube videos. A series of short videos on the topic of your holiday, optimized for the search engines, will continue to pull traffic all year.
Ask for proclamations. Local and state governments, and even the White House, issue proclamations for a variety of important and unimportant holidays and events.
Tie a holiday, week or month to special sales. Include coupons in newspaper and magazine ads. Offer coupon codes for online shopping.
Create a series of free tips on your topic during your special month. If your month relates to financial fitness, for example, let people opt into an email list and receive a daily tip delivered by autoresponder, every day of the month.
Tell us: Do you have your own holiday? If so, how do you promote it?