Maximize participation by paying attention to holidays.
You may recall I’ve advised that a story idea pitched to a reporter may become more timely by pegging it to a date on the calendar at least one month ahead. Some examples are:
- secular celebrations (Memorial Day, Boston Marathon);
- cyclical events (elections, Oscars);
- anniversaries (9/11, Hurricane Maria);
- and National Whatever Month.
Perhaps you noticed this list does not mention religious holidays; that was deliberate. Religious holidays may be fixed (December 25) or float according to lunar calculations, so it’s vital to check the calendar to avoid scheduling a gathering on such a day.
Accordingly, when planning an event, consider the opposite of the linking scenario; keep an eye on dates that might be detrimental to attendance.
In recent weeks, I was invited to three programs — a networking breakfast and two webinars – all on Wednesday, September 19. FYI, Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, was celebrated on that date in 2018.
As soon as I realized I was unable to participate in these gatherings, I contacted the organizer of each event and explained the overlap. I asked about re-scheduling the networking breakfast (which was five weeks later and had not yet been announced) and about receiving a recording of the webinars. The email also included a link to a Jewish calendar, so that the host might check it when planning another event.
Here are the replies:
From the host of the networking breakfast: “Thanks for the heads up — I will do my best to reschedule.”
From the Director of Sales & Events at the first webinar host: “Apologies for the oversight and thank you for pointing this out! We will certainly make note for future events. We are a diverse and inclusive company with absolutely no intention of shutting anyone out. The webinar will be recorded and the slides will be available to download later.”
From the Director of Marketing at the second webinar host: “[Company] tries their best to work around schedules including those of the presenters and staff, but we will be sure to keep all religious calendars in mind for future scheduling.”
These polite responses are appreciated and surely the scheduling conflict was inadvertent. Yet, it would have been so simple to check the calendar in advance to make sure the proposed date did not coincide with a religious holiday or other observance.
If there is an overlap with such a date, and the significance of a religious holiday is unfamiliar, the host should consult the appropriate clergy or someone knowledgeable to learn whether or not the holiday observance will interfere with a business event.
For example, many Christians worship in church on Ash Wednesday; this holy day is celebrated in February or March, according to the lunar calendar. After a holiday mass, these observers go to work as usual. Apparently, there is no conflict with holding a mid-morning, lunch, afternoon or evening program on that day.
In addition, it may be wise to note when corporate announcements by competitors are expected. No technology industry activities are held on a day when Apple plans to introduce a product, because all eyes are on that announcement event.
As a service to her clients, at the beginning of each year, Dottie Jeffries, a Public Relations colleague who is not Jewish, emails them a list of the dates of the principal Jewish holidays (Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), as well as a few other days of religious observance. This helps her clients mark their calendars in advance and they are most appreciative of her reminder.
This Month’s Tip
Make it easy to find an available date on the calendar by blocking out federal and state holidays, plus days of religious observance. Here are links to religious calendars for 2018; adherents of these five religions account for 66% of the US population:
At what stage in planning an event should you check the calendar? As soon as possible, to ensure the maximum attendance. If you need help with scheduling, call me at 212.677.5770 or email at Janet@JanetLFalk.com. Let’s not allow a conflict with a holiday rain on the parade of your successful event.
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