What - describe the event and what you will be doing
Where - details of where and when the event taking place
Why – tell them why you are motivated to participate. Have you or your family or friends been affected by the conditions we fund? Is there a personal reason such as a lifestyle change behind your motivation? Tell them how much you are hoping to raise and why you support Action Medical Research.
Always include your contact details at the end and details of your Facebook page or Twitter account, plus relevant hashtag
Use our notes to editors in the template release to tell journalists who we are and that we are a registered charity
There is an art to making a press release work as well as it can for you, to secure as much coverage – free editorial publicity – for the charity as possible. Writing a good release is only half of the battle; the other half is ensuring you use the best tactics for sending it out and make sure the right people see it.
When you’ve gone to the time and effort of writing a snappy, relevant and interesting press release the last thing you want it to do is to fall at the final hurdle. Investing just a little bit of extra time in this part of the process can generate much more rewarding results.
The following tips aim to help you when you are issuing a press release:
Your email In almost all cases, press releases are now issued by email. Making sure your email is in the best format can help avoid it being thrown out by spam filters, missed, or simply ignored by busy journalists who are bombarded with hundreds of press releases every day.
The subject line: Always make sure this is filled in, never leave it blank. It is the first thing that will be seen; you want to ensure the journalist reads on, not hits delete. The easiest thing to use is your press release heading which, of course, should always be interesting. If you are targeting specific local titles it can also help to ensure there is something in this heading that marks it out as relevant to their readers, such as a town or county name.
Main text and attachments:As a general rule, you should copy and paste the text of your press release into the main body of your email so it can be seen instantly without the need to open attachments. Remove logos and use our house style and font. It is usually safest to avoid attachments wherever possible, especially large image files – if you have accompanying photography you can say it is available on request in the notes to editors, or in a covering message at the top of your email.
Be careful with mass emails for distribution:Time pressure can make it extremely tempting to mass mail your entire list. A more personalised approach is generally more effective but if you are mass mailing please be sure to blind CC (BCC) the addresses so that recipients cannot see everybody else’s personal details. It is best to break the list down into chunks of no more than 20-25 recipients per email sent, as firewalls can throw out obvious mass mailings.
Selective targeting for a more personal approach It is a good idea to try to pick out the media outlets that you think are most important in your media list – such as the major regional newspapers or a popular local radio station that you feel may help most to drive recruitment – and send them the press release individually with a short message highlighting why you’re contacting them.
Follow-up phone calls Again, it is worth picking out those media outlets that you feel will best help you to attract participants and give them a call a few days after you have sent your press release to check if somebody has seen it and ask if they would like any further information. Just be wary of calling on deadline, and don’t take it personally if journalists are a little brief on the phone – just give them a brief outline of your story and tell them you’ll resend it if they haven’t seen it.
Consider the needs of different media outlets and adapt your approach
These differ depending on the type of media you’re targeting – newspapers, magazines, radio and TV each have specific requirements that can make or break a story. Your basic press release will usually be fine for print outlets but if you’re trying to attract radio coverage, then you will need to think in terms of what will work on air and indicate this in a covering message at the top of your email. Radio relies on voices so stating that somebody is available to be interviewed and speak about the event on air will make your press release a more attractive proposition. Television is the most demanding medium of all and requires visual appeal, as well as interviewees to form a strong package. Think about what you can offer to make your story more appealing to different types of media outlet.
Top tips for media interviews
If the media are interested in your story / event they may want to interview you. Most local radio and newspaper interviews take place over the telephone unless they want to take a picture.
Some radio stations may ask if you have a smart phone and the ability to record your half of the conversation. They may then ask if you can email the, the subsequent audio file so that they can have better quality audio to eidt. If your phone doesn’t already have a Dictaphone app or something similar, you can always download one for free in the app store or android equivalent.
Occasionally radio or TV interviews will be transmitted live, but most will be recorded in advance. You can call the Communications team at Action (T 01403 327480) if you’d like help to prepare.
Plan what you want to say in advance – remember to think of the key messages you need to include from the who, what, why, where and when
Check if it is going to be live or recorded and find out what type of questions they are going to ask
If you are nervous, rehearse with a friend or call the Comms team at Action Medical Research for advice/support
Try to mention us by name and not ‘the charity’
Don’t tell the journalist or presenter anything that you do not want to appear in print or be heard on radio or seen on TV!
Top tips for social media Journalists also trawl social media for stories, photographs and other content and volunteers using social media as ambassadors for the charity and its events need to represent us professionally and accurately.
If you’re active on Facebook…
Be short and to the point – people prefer to read status updates that are around 225 characters long
Make it valuable and look at the timing of your posts such as early in the morning and afternoon and Saturday
Be visual - if you’re posting photos or video make sure the picture relates to the post and, if you can, include the Action logo. If you’ve taken a photo of children, please ensure you have a written consent from parents or guardians.
Be positive and be yourself.
If you’re active on Twitter…
Keep it short and sweet – tweets that contain less than 100 characters receive 17% higher engagement than longer tweets
Provide links to the relevant information
Tweets with image links have twice the engagement rates of tweets without images AND tweets with pics get 94% more retweets
Asking followers to retweet means you will receive higher retweet rates than those that don’t.
Key times to tweet are between 8am-7pm when interaction rates are 30% higher
Where relevant use the established event-specific hashtags – just have a look at the @actionmedres or @amr_events tweets to copy these.
Extra help If you need more guidance or specific advice, or want to chat through ideas you have for media stories to promote your rides then please contact Peter Denton in Communications.
E firstname.lastname@example.org T 01403 327480