Memorial Day flag

Across the country, Americans are gearing up for Memorial Day—a day to remember the men and women who died serving in all the U.S. Armed Forces.

While many mark the last Monday in May as a day off work or the start of summer, it’s important to honor the sacrifices made by these brave individuals in service of our country.

Stories of remembrance during Memorial Day are often told through the news media covering parades or honoring the heroic actions of individuals and units.

An influx of social media posts also will address a plethora of sales and exclusive deals for brands across the country.

Before you wave a flag to gain shares on social media, here are a few PR lessons to learn from Memorial Day.

Know the facts

From a knowledgeable politician to a random person on the street, many people tend to get the meaning of Memorial Day confused.

Memorial Day is not a day that requires a gleeful salutation, like “Happy Memorial Day.”

There is no such thing.

This is a day to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in combat.

Veterans are real people—alive or dead, serving or retired—who deserve honor because of the sacrifice they all chose to offer in defense of our country.

Have your sale.

Salute the start to Summer.

But if you’re going to put your brand out there on a day of remembrance make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

Take note: It’s more about matching sentiment than pushing your brand message. 

You want your message to resonate with your audience.

If your post comes off as actively trying to take advantage of a meaningful event or situation it never goes down well.

No matter what your intent was.

Remember, words carry weight. Always.

If you’re going to publicize, promote, or post directly commemorating an event like Memorial Day, make sure it doesn’t come off as trivializing it. 

Fight the good fight

Memorial Day is a lot like the famous line in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities—it can be both the best of times for some and the worst of times for others.

Sure, Charles may have been writing about the spring of hope and the winter of despair, but it serves as a great reminder that every person has either good or bad memories associated with the holiday.

While I’m not suggesting you read each and every one of your customers’ minds, I am suggesting you learn to fight the good fight.

Promoting your brand and putting out PR pitch after PR pitch without getting a bite can be discouraging.

During times of conflict and times of resolve, those who have served our country have done their job despite how things are going.

Again, not that any PR activity can even remotely relate to the moments our military members have seen. However, as the face or voice of your brand or business, it’s your job to keep at when the going gets tough.

Be prepared to get one no after another.

Yes, it can feel discouraging after a while.

But, regardless of their role, reporters get pitched hundreds of story ideas daily and do not have the ability to pursue every media lead that comes their way.

The key is to keep at it, adapt your messaging to fit the outlet you are pitching, and learn as you go along.

Still being rejected?

Make sure you are pitching the right media contacts and that you’ve done your research.  Double-check your pitch and make sure it is on message but still relevant.

It also is important to be persistent with your follow ups until you land that coveted yes from a media outlet who is interested in covering your story.

You have a job to do. Do it with pride.

Try something different

With the limited amount of time building a brand or being an entrepreneur leaves for thinking outside the box promotions-wise, it’s easy to get into the “It’s a holiday, let’s have a sale! Here’s what the marketing copy should be and make sure it looks patriotic” trap.

What if this year you dared to do something different?

Perhaps try a new approach in 2019 and share moving stories, such as:

  • Offer a unique point-of-view around the holiday and how it has impacted your brand.

  • Create a conversation in support of those fighting for our country, the families supporting those who are fighting for our country, or supporting your employees who have served our country.

  • Share the story of how freedom, and those who sacrificed for it, has helped to mold you, your brand, or your business.

Be social

An all-volunteer military force requires a substantial recruiting effort on all fronts.

One way the U.S. Armed Forces communicates its stories and shares key messages is through the social media of each branch to potential service members.

Let’s be real: Soldiers don’t go in the military for the money or because it’s an easy job where they lounge by the pool and drink umbrella drinks.

Each service member has his or her own reasons.

If you follow any of our military branches on social, you’ll see quickly the job of connecting with those diverse reasons is best accomplished through images, video, and other engaging media designed for sharing.

What does this mean to you?

As a brand or business, you need to understand the interests, needs, and goals of those you wish to engage—through social or otherwise.

No matter if it’s potential customers, current customers, the media, influencers, or investors.

When a business can create compelling stories that connect the interests of its target audience with the key messages of its brand, the results are impressive.

If wise men say a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s safe to assume a video is worth millions.

Please note: The magic of video isn’t just the format, it’s in the message, and the storytelling that matters.

Make sure you investigate the role that a rich and meaningful media experience can play for attracting, engaging, and persuading your target audience.

What lessons from Memorial Day can you apply to your PR practices? 

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