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New Years, birthdays, graduations are all typically marked with a countdown. It’s common practice to look forward to any anticipated special event. And even though these special events are now consisting of drive-through birthday parades, Zoom happy hours and other alternatives, these celebrations are still something to look forward to.

So, why not capitalize on this practice for your next PR or marketing outreach campaign? Whether it’s an upcoming virtual conference, webinar, or new product launch, countdowns are a strategic (and fun!) way to get your audience prepared and excited for the news or event.

It's the Final Countdown

Probably not the countdown you had in mind

Countdowns allow you to build momentum towards your event or news, which keeps your brand in the spotlight longer.

You might have an amazing event planned, but if there is little promotion beforehand, then you’re left relying only on the splash the event makes during the scheduled dates. A countdown campaign is a smart way to keep your target audience focused on you for a longer period of time. Doesn’t that sound great? If not, you could always hire these guys instead.

Here are four basic steps to help you get started in creating an impactful countdown campaign for your big news or event:

1. Create a countdown calendar.

Where do you begin? Well, at the end actually. Start by nailing down the date for the event and working backwards. You have a few decisions you have to make about the duration and frequency of your countdown – is it going to last 10 days, weeks, or months? Are you going to post daily, weekly, or monthly? You might have a webinar scheduled and decide to post daily for the 10 days leading up to it, or you might have a big conference and decide to post weekly for the preceding 10 weeks.

Once you decide your duration and frequency, create a calendar to plan the content for your posts. Pick a topic or general theme for each post in your countdown. Planning ahead ensures that you have enough content to last through your whole countdown. You don’t want to start posting only to realize you have run out of content right in the middle!

2. Prepare your content.

Now that you’ve created your countdown calendar and have picked the general themes and ideas for each countdown post, it’s time to get creative. There are lots of directions you can go in with countdown posts.

For example, you might decide to write blogs on the top five reasons why people should attend your webinar. Or, you could gather quotes from your event attendees or speakers on why they are excited to be part of your event. These quotes can be turned into handy graphics that are great to share on social media and help you visually stand out:

IEEE Doug Zuckerman

Image courtesy of IEEE Technology Time Machine

One more tip for content creation: create it early. Be sure to leave enough time for the review process, so you’re not scrambling to get your posts out on time.

3. Post your content.

The time has come to kick off your countdown and post all that wonderful content you’ve prepared. Stick to your calendar and post at your chosen frequency and duration.

Whatever route you go with content, remember to intertwine your media efforts when it comes time to post. If you write a blog, make sure you share it via your social channels. If you create eye-catching graphics, make sure they get posted on your website. Use your content in multiple places to make the most of your countdown.

4. Listen and evaluate.

You are sailing through your countdown and it’s going well… you think? You need to take time to listen and evaluate each post. Don’t just post your countdown content mindlessly. Are people commenting on the blog, retweeting your tweets, or liking your Facebook posts? If you are seeing traction, great!

Capitalize on this by interacting with your audience, making sure to answer their questions, address their comments, or engage with their tweets. Are you not seeing the movement you were hoping for? Take some time to re-evaluate the post and decide if there are any tweaks you can make to your remaining countdown posts to make them more effective.

By following these simple steps of creating a countdown calendar, preparing content, posting, and listening and evaluating along the way, you are ready to create a strategic countdown for your next webinar, event, or announcement.

When creating your PR and marketing goals, consider using countdowns for some extra attention. If you need any help in creating a countdown plan or content, such as blogs, social media posts, or graphics, the Interprose team would be happy to help. Contact us today!

This article was originally published in February 2017 and has since been updated.

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