Promoting your project

The media always want exciting, local news stories, especially if your story has a human interest e.g. something that readers can relate to.

As a condition of your grant you are required to publicise that you’ve received a grant from us. This gives you a great opportunity to raise public awareness of your work, tell people who you are, what you are doing and how the community will benefit. Publicity can also lead to additional fundraising opportunities or people volunteering to help your project.

This guide gives you some basic hints and tips on how to write a press release and talk to the local media about promoting your story.

So what’s a good news story?

Before contacting the media with a story you must decide what you want to say. Make sure your news will be of interest to someone outside of your organisation. Editors are interested in news that will appeal to their readers and is, for example:

  • Dramatic
  • An appeal
  • Humorous
  • News of a Trust event
  • Quirky
  • New appointments
  • Family or individual experiences
  • Triumph over tragedy
  • Out of the ordinary
  • Information campaign
  • Research news
  • Extension of a service
  • Launch/opening of a new project
  • Opinion forming

Writing a press release

Editors receive hundreds of press releases on a daily basis. So make sure yours stands out from the crowd.

Decide on the key messages you want to communicate. Make sure the main message is in the first paragraph and use the remaining press release to back up your main message.

Press releases need to be produced on headed paper and include:

  1. Name of the organisation 
  2. Date 
  3. Headline – keep this short and summarising the story. Journalists will write their own fancy titles for the paper
  4. First paragraph – make sure that it tells the story in two or three sentences. Consider using phrases such as; cash boost, launch of appeal, reprieved from closure, new service launched etc
  5. Second paragraph – use this to explain the key elements of your story e.g. who, what, why, when, where and how
  6. Third paragraph – if possible, include short quotes from one or two people involved with your story. If you would like a quote from The Harpur Trust  please contact Lucy Bardner, Community Programmes Director on 01234 369500 or lbardner@harpurtrust.org.uk
  7. Ends – put the word ‘Ends’ at the end of your press release to indicate the main text of the story has finished.
  8. Notes for Editors – in this section include background information on your organisation (including a web address, Facebook & Twitter accounts) that journalists may find useful. Using this section for the detail on your organisation allows you to keep the press release short and snappy. Please also include information about The Harpur Trust – see below
  9. Contact details – include the name and phone number of someone who can be contacted outside of office hours and can answer journalist’s questions
  10. Referring to The Harpur Trust – please ensure the press release states we have supported your project. When referring to The Trust please use our full name when first referring to us i.e. The Harpur Trust and then in subsequent references you may simply use The Trust. When acknowledging we have supported your project please use phrases such as: ‘supported by’, ‘funded by’ or ‘received a grant from’.

Issuing your press release

  1. Decide when to issue the press release.  A story that’s too old, even if it’s a great story, won’t get used.
  2. Decide which newspapers, radio or TV channels you want to send your press release to. Call them to confirm their copy deadline and which journalist will deal with a news story like yours. Try and get their direct phone line and email address.
  3. Decide how to issue the release:
    • If possible talk to the journalist first and tell them about your story and then email the release for their attention. Send the release in the body of the email, not as an attachment as they may not bother to read it
    • NB: Ensure that each journalist, at each publication receives an individual email; do not send out a group email to all of your media contacts.
  4. Check the journalist has received your email and if they need anymore information.
  5. Add a copy of the press release and photos to your organisation’s website making sure the story can be easily accessed from the home page. You can also add a snapshot of the story to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Photographs

Eye-catching and interesting photos are vital and increase the chances of your story being used. Make sure they’re good quality. If you don’t have a photo, tell journalists if there’s an opportunity for their photographer to take photos.

If you work with children and vulnerable groups, ensure that written permission is gained for their photographs to be taken and/or used.

Remember to include a picture caption for each photograph. Make sure it includes the names of people in the photo, why they are relevant to the story, where they are and what they are doing.

Your contact details

Make sure you’re accessible once you’ve issued a press release. Include your name, phone number and email address. A mobile number also helps especially if a journalist wants to contact you when you’re not in the office.

Signing off press releases

Our External Relations Manager will be happy to offer advice and guidance on generating publicity and can be contacted through the Community Programmes Director, Lucy Bardner, at lbardner@harpurtrust.org.uk. Any press releases you plan on issuing to the media that refer to The Trust or use our logo must be approved by the External Relations Manager.

Further information

The Media Trust provides a host of information for Charities on PR, Communications and Marketing their project/service. For more information visit http://resources.mediatrust.org/

You can download a PDF copy of this media guide, including an example press release template here.