What do you think of awareness days? Or indeed awareness days, weeks and months? Last week was International Women’s Day, World Book Day, Panic Day, but only in the US; Rare Disease Day came at the end of LGBT+ History Month, and plans are intensifying for Pride Month. Jazz Appreciation Day is 30 April, which is also the anniversary of the death of Hitler – the latter being the only one of the above we’re not invited to mark.
These are all, Hitler excepting, days organised for ‘good things’ and ‘good reasons’. It’s easy to make fun of some – World Book Day saw many a child dressed up as a character in a book they haven’t read, or as a character that doesn’t feature in a book.
People marking International Women’s Day run the gamut of ‘gentlemen’ quipping: ‘When’s International Men’s Day?’
With many of the good causes, many feel it would be nice if the tragedy or injustice that prompts them were taken away – a reason to not need the day/week/month. The sheer number of them can seem dizzying.
I don’t want to make a judgement about any individual awareness event in the calendar. But this week prompts a few thoughts about whether they work.
On one count you can see awareness days a bit like tech start-up companies. There are loads of them – they can’t all get ‘big’, though it’s not obvious when you announce one whether it will.
Three of the above have made it for sure – International Women’s Day, Pride, World Book Day – these are the Amazons and Facebooks of the ‘awareness’ diary dates. They get it all – major press coverage, big businesses desperate to have their support acknowledged.
IWD has become a press bunfight, with PRs hitting the phones to commissioning editors – with increasing desperation as the day before ticks away with no articles placed. These happen year after year, and are not going to be quietly dropped.
Those other days perhaps have a purpose too. Lots of us are energised by belonging to a ‘tribe’ – attending events together, sharing things on social media. The day is a prompt, and for every supporter of a cause who feels a bit jaded another is happy to make a noise, even if only to a few people.
But only a few will ever get really big – we don’t have enough attention for them all. So if you launch your day, week or month, stick at it for a bit and if it doesn’t grow, you’ll need other strategies for standing out and other ways to communicate your message.
If you’d like advice about being heard in the din, perhaps hoping to be ‘big’ one day, I hope you’ll get in touch.