Wednesday, August 22, 2007

planning around the calendar: resources

This week, a discussion on NPR's Diane Rehm Show about benchmarks in Iraq prompted a caller to ask why September 11 had been chosen for the delivery of the Congressionally mandated report on progress toward benchmarks in the war: Didn't the White House understand the significance of that date, the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Discussants walked us through the calendar, and planning process, just as any smart communicator would do. The law requires the report to be made by September 15; the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah falls on the 13th and 14th; and Labor Day, September 3, is a federal holiday that falls the week prior. The conclusion: It's a crowded calendar, not an intentional slight, that prompts the schedule this time.

The calendar for your announcements only gets more complicated as we move into an election year. To plan ahead, consult these resources:
-ABC News's "The Note" publishes a full "futures" calendar for election-related events, including major television appearances, primaries, fundraisers, debates and other news events from now to election day 2008. Even if your event is nonpartisan, it pays to know when you face competition in the national news -- or during a campaign stop in your market.
- Chase's Calendar of Events is the standard reference -- started by a social scientist and a former newspaper librarian -- for all the special weeks, days and months in a given year. Updated annually in book and CD-ROM form, the Chase's website gives you a taste of holidays for the current six-week period here and lists all the special months here.
-The National Press Club's web page lists major speeches and announcements at the club for today and forthcoming weeks; the full calendar is here. Looking ahead to a major newsmaker's speech can help you avoid a conflict or dovetail your own related announcement.
Why all the calendars? If you're issuing news when other foreseeable news could trump yours, you'll either lose your impact or be accused of burying bad news. At the same time, calendars give you ideas, angles, and advantages if you make the most of them. Take the time to flesh out your own organization's calendar of issues, deadlines and announcements for 2008 now, and overlay the national events, conflicts and potential angles you've culled from others' calendars. It's the simplest and most effective planning step you can take for next year's communications.

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