How to construct a Valentine’s Day event that gets your organization some love

A clever holiday-focused media event can turn a story that would normally be ignored into one worth covering

Some of my favorite media stunts relate to Valentine’s Day. I’ll share examples in a moment, but first let’s examine the anatomy of how to construct a holiday focused media event.

They key is blending two unique components, or visuals, into the same story.

Part one is to identify the unique visuals for your organization so that when someone sees it, they immediately think of you. An easy example for a transportation-related company is its fleet of vehicles. When you see a FedEx truck, you know what they do without having to think about it. When you see someone wearing scrubs and a stethoscope, you immediately think of health care professionals.

Visuals for an ambulance service would be the ambulance itself, and a crew in uniform.

Part two is to list the visuals that are universally synonymous with established events or holidays. For example, a Christmas tree for Christmas or carved pumpkins for Halloween. Visuals for Valentine’s Day could be anything with a heart or romance related.

Now the hard part: create a media event that combines your work-related visual with the holiday visual, in the same screenshot/story. Let me share a few examples.

Example #1: Learn Hands-Only CPR Today, Save Mouth-to-Mouth for Valentine’s Day

This headline/teaser was used for one of my favorite media stunts. We had a paramedic in uniform standing in front of an ambulance, with a mannequin on a gurney in front of him so that we could teach how to do hands-only CPR. The mannequin was surrounded with lots of Valentine’s Day items like candy hearts, balloons, etc. By combining the ambulance service’s visuals with Valentine’s Day visuals and adding some puns, we turned a story the media would normally ignore into one that got coverage.

In addition to inviting media to the training, we created our own social media videos. I had one out-of-state operation send me video clips which I directed remotely and I edited them into the following YouTube video:

On this story, the local PIO gave me one of the greatest compliments I can recall. After sending out her media advisory for the event that included my recommended headline, one of the assignment desk editors responded, telling her that the headline was in the running for their internal collection of best press advisory subject lines/headlines of the year.

Example #2: A Special Valentine’s Day Date

One of my all-time favorite media stories was for an ambulance service that used its vehicle to transport a husband who lived in one nursing home to a special lunch with his wife, who lived in another nursing home. You can watch that story here:

While it’s a great story that viewers loved, the true business benefit came from the process. In searching for a patient, we increased the company’s awareness within care facilities to increase transport requests.

Once we offered the transport to a care facility, the administrator asked facility nurses and case managers if they knew of any candidates. Those same nurses and case managers also choose which ambulance provider to call for scheduled transports.

Even when they couldn’t find a candidate, they appreciated the thought and remembered who offered. The best case scenario was actually when a facility said they couldn’t identify a patient. This allowed us to start the process anew with another facility, getting us noticed by even more nurses and case managers.

Once the story ran, we then sent a link of the story to the care facility, resulting in numerous facility staff compliments and their thanks.

When planning your event, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Small and simple often get the best results. Once you find a formula that works for holidays, you can repeat the event year after year.

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