How to promote your trade association’s thought leadership during timely times

There are a number of boxes to check when it comes to raising the visibility of and securing media coverage for your trade association’s thought leaders – from sending out press releases and position statements that include their voices, to having a media-friendly website where reporters can read about their expertise and request their commentary.

But when facing a media landscape in which reporters and editors have a multitude of sources on any and all subjects at their fingertips, it’s crucial for trade associations to invest in the proactive PR that promotes their leaders and experts, and thereby their mission and message, at timely times – that is, whenever they’ll get attention.

Using the Grain Foods Foundation and the members of its Scientific Advisory Board as an example, here are some of the top timely times:

24/7/365 – Given that almost all reporters and freelance writers are working on multiple assignments at a time and facing multiple tight deadlines, many of them use online services – two of our favorites are called Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and qwoted – where they post their calls for sources on a daily basis. Subscribing to these services, scanning the email digests that they send, and offering your experts for potential interviews on relevant topics is the best way to continuously offer your experts’ thought leadership when there’s a need for it.

Annual Holidays – You can count on media to give constant attention to two things: weather and holidays. With this in mind, it can be fruitful to send a pitch tying your experts’ knowledge to a relevant element of the holidays – for example, GFF might offer its experts to discuss the nutritional value of enriched refined grain foods such as hot dog and hamburger buns before July Fourth, or research showing that eating moderate amounts of indulgent grain foods is OK during the holiday baking season leading up to Christmas.

National Oatmeal Day

Annual “National” Days and Months – Since every month and day is labeled as national this or that month or day, you can easily promote individuals’ relevant expertise – for example, GFF could pitch its cardiologists’ latest research on the importance of whole grains for heart health ahead of American Heart Month (February), its Certified Diabetes Educator’s top tips for managing diabetes ahead of National Diabetes Month (November), or its resident dietary fiber experts’ commentary on how many different forms of fiber there are and why they’re all essential to your health before National Oatmeal Day or Whole Grain Sampling Day.

Seasons – Closely related to holidays and designated days and months, you can tie your experts to the “season” that’s on the minds of most consumers – for example, GFF could offer its pediatrician’s guidance on what makes a healthy breakfast and lunch for kids just before school resumes in the fall, or its many resident dietitians’ top tips on adopting a healthy diet and losing weight in a safe and sustainable way in January, when these oh-so-common New Year’s Resolutions are being made.

Current Events – While online sources such as HARO and qwoted can keep your hand on what topics media are covering on a daily or weekly basis, subscribing to some general and topic-specific e-newsletters can inform you of opportunities to tie your experts’ knowledge to current events or policy developments. For example, GFF’s Executive Director could offer commentary on the food supply chain when grocery store shelves are empty due to storms, disasters, or, of course, global pandemics, or some of its PhDs’ expertise during the development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Empty store shelves

Anniversaries – Last but not least, eye-catching anniversaries (e.g. one-, five, or ten-year) of relevant happenings can offer an entry point to your thought leaders’ expertise. For example, GFF’s prenatal expert could offer to discuss the importance of folic acid intake in preventing neural tube defects on the 25th anniversary of the CDC requiring manufacturers to fortify cereal grain products with folic acid (coming up in 2023!), or its Executive Director could offer to discuss how COVID-19 affected consumption trends one year after national lockdowns began.

Capitalize with proactive PR at timely times such as these – whether on your own or with some help – and you’ll keep your experts in the media spotlight all year round.

To learn more about Trade Association marketing, check this out:

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