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How to Turn Events into Link Building Opportunities

Ken McGaffin
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festivalSEO and public relations have much potential for synergy. Not only can you get media coverage, you can encourage editorial links.

One basic PR practice that works well for link building is the 12-month planner. Everything that happens in your industry can create link building opportunities. But if you just react and do things at the last minute, you aren't 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.

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.

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 building links for a gourmet chocolate website, you should know that:

  • July 28 is National Milk Chocolate Day in the U.S. – indeed there are 28 National chocolate holidays according to Foodimentary.com, a blog about food history, origins, celebrations, and holidays.
  • 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.

Why are these types of events useful?

  • Journalists are likely to be aware of such holidays and so will be on the look out for stories – especially if the stories have a creative or unusual angle.
  • Sometimes the organizations behind the holidays don't do a good job of promoting them and may be open to working with others.
  • It also gives you an excuse to create a story that might otherwise be seen as a spurious, publicity stunt.

In the PR industry, Chase's Calendar of Events is a terrific resource – it lists over 12,500 events worldwide and costs around $75. And if you're looking for something free, specific to the U.S., check out www.brownielocks.com, not the prettiest site in the world, but it lists daily, weekly, and monthly events. Great material if you're stuck for inspiration.

And from a quick bit of research in a chocolate cookbook, I 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 piece of link bait. How about a piece of content targeted at the start of the asparagus season around May?

Here's a very simple template for the planner:

annual-plan-template

And here's how to use it:

1. Industry Events – What's Happening in Your Industry?

List all the trade shows, exhibitions, and other events relevant to your business. Even if you don't have any intention of going, list them so that you can either piggyback on the publicity they attract or avoid a clash.

2. Your Company Events – What's Happening in Your Company Each Month?

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

3. 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.

4. Initiatives – Events You 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 uncomfortable with a month where there is no real promotional activity going on around your company, that's the perfect month to create an initiative.

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.

This template for planning is simple yet extremely effective in helping your public relations and link building activities work together.


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