Have Awareness Days had their day?

Many charities and brands invest a lot of time and resource into named national or international awareness ‘moments’ to help raise their profile, yet every year the same ones dominate mainstream media. So are awareness days, weeks and months still a great way of engaging new and existing audiences, or an ineffective ploy?  

Without a shadow of a doubt, there’s still a place for awareness days, and anything that can help just one person from taking their life (For example, we’ve just had World Suicide Awareness Day – 10 September), or spot the signs and symptoms of breast cancer (Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in October) is never a wasted effort. If planned and executed well, the day/week or month is a welcome bonus to organisations and their overall communications strategy.  

But with so many awareness days, weeks and months on the horizon (we counted over 20 in September alone), we’ve been asking ourselves what organisations can do to succeed in cutting through the noise, where others fail. How we can ensure the proliferation of awareness days doesn’t dilute the ones that ‘really’ matter? 

We’ve pulled together our top tips to involve your organisation in an awareness day, and reach more people with your mission: 

  1. Plan your involvement   

You’ll never be stuck for something to support on social media, there’s an awareness day for everything, but be consistent and choose something you’ll continue to support.  

At least three months prior to the moment consider the type of valuable, and impactful content you want to create.  

Here are some ideas to make the most of your involvement: 

  • Research that highlights the issue and your call to action
  • Photo opportunities that humanise your brand and spread awareness
  • Expert interviews
  • Ambassadors to reach a wider audience
  • Story exclusives
  • A new announcement
  • A collaboration with partners or others across the sector

An awareness day/week/month is an open box, and can help you reach new audiences as a result, but ensure you consider whether it’s the right time, or whether it’ll dilute your message since there’s likely to be so much activity on the same day from competitors.  

  1. Plan your audience’s involvement  

Ensure you’ve got an easy to understand call-to-action and add a clearly defined and thought-provoking message. Don’t forget the vital ‘hashtag’, relevant to the day to ensure you’re part of the same conversation. You can easily find this on Twitter, or on the organiser’s campaign page. Ensure to add it to every post.  

  1. Add something valuable to the conversation 

Organisations that fail at utilising awareness days/weeks/months to enhance their cause or brand simply haven’t backed up their involvement with real action or have aligned themselves to a generic day without offering anything valuable to the conversation. 

Smalltalk is awkward, so as you begin to join in with the conversation across social media, don’t forget to see what others are speaking about, including your audiences, and take your cue from them. Respond by offering them something to support the cause (see above ideas). By sharing your own views, you’ll also be able to demonstrate your expertise and role in the sector.  

  1. Let social media take the lead, but don’t forget other PR tactics 

Ask yourselves which awareness you think journalists will want to write about? Spend time developing your strategy and have a variety of PR tactics to communicate your message effectively. For example, tailor content to different audiences, gather stories and data and use visual tools (such as infographics) to make your case easy to understand.  

There are so many great examples of the benefits of ‘Awareness Days’ to choose from, here are a few of ours: 

  • Inspiring Girls do some excellent campaign work around International Women’s Day (8 March). Last year, they partnered with Google to create video content to tackle gender stereotypes in the tech sector and inspire girls to raise their aspirations. 
  • WHO Suicide Prevention Day  (10 September) In past years, over 300 activities in around 70 countries were reported to International Association of Suicide Prevention. 
  • World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’  (officially 25 September, no ‘Awareness Day’ list would be complete without giving them a mention). Since 1990, Macmillan have been organising a coffee morning to raise funds for the charity. This year, they are encouraging a virtual or social distanced event.  

If you would like to be involved in Awareness activities, or have something coming up, don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss how Skating Panda can add value and help refine your communications strategy.