How to write a top-notch charity press release
Constructing a good relationship with local media is one of the most important things any charity is going to have to do. From time to time you will need to provide a press release. This is a relatively straightforward method of getting your message out there to the community in a way that doesn’t use up too much of the charity’s vital funds. However, getting it right is key to ensuring maximum success for your campaign. Read on to gather some top tips to make sure your press release hits the mark.
Make sure you know how your local media works. What is the format of both the paper and online newspaper? It makes sense to have looked at these, as well as the TV and radio, to see where your piece would fit in. Find out which journalists cover your area so that you can contact them directly.
- photo – Tsahi Levent-Levi
Writing Your Press Release
Format – How you write your press release is crucial to getting your message across. It should ideally be on one piece of paper and easy for the reader to ascertain the key facts at a glance. Have the words Press Release in large bolded letters at the top. It goes without saying that you should ensure you have proo-read and spelled any names and details correctly, particularly dates and contacts.
Headline – Follow the words Press Release with your headlineand make it punchy. Just like the headline of any newspaper or magazine article, this is the first thing that the reader will see.
Angle – This is the point of the story that you want to tell. Make sure you stick to the important facts. Who does it involve? What does it involve? When this will happen? Where will it happen? Why is this happening? It may be that not every one of these five W’s is relevant to your particular piece, but at least some of them will be, and you need to make sure the important details are succinct and stand out. Consider adding a relevant quote from a person or organisation.
Once you are ready to approach the media with your press release, ensure that you’re professional in your approach. Remember you’re building a potential network for the future and you don’t want to annoy people by being flaky or not having done your homework. If you are emailing, make sure it doesn’t contain any viruses, and include your piece in the body of the email. Follow up initial contact but be reasonable. A second email or phone call the same day is likely to annoy any busy media professional. A phone call a couple of days after an email should be fine. If you don’t have any luck at first then try again later or approach another outlet. It could that there was no space at your time of contact but the local media is always keep to take on human interest stories. Charities and the third sector in general will usually appeal to the public; therefore journalists are likely to be keen to hear your story. Keep trying.
- Sam Wright is a conscientious, caring journalist working in the Third Sector.