Contact newspapers that are available to buy or are given out for free in the area your project is based. If you are unsure which area they cover you can always ring and ask. Think about contacting your local BBC radio station as well as any commercial stations in your area. See if there are any local websites or blogs who might be interested in your story.
Editors, journalists, broadcasters and reporters receive dozens of press releases and story ideas every day. Not all of them even get looked at. Think of it as if you are entering a competition – your story, release or phone call has to be better than all the rest. Make sure it’s relevant, has a news hook, and will be a compelling story for their readership.
All media want just one name to be dealing with, rather than a clutch of different people. Work out who has the time, inclination and personal style to be your media representative. You might want to choose someone with credentials or experience, to add gravitas.
Remember that newsrooms are busy and receive lots of content. What makes your project unique? Why should the reporter or journalist spend their time covering your project or interviewing your representative? What makes it special?
Work out how to sum up your activity in one short sentence. Avoid bland ‘it will change lives.’ More along the lines of; ‘people’s health in the region will be improved as they engage with more creative activities.’ Use this as a subheading in your press release.
Always try to avoid sending your release to any generic email queue, such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s easy for releases to get lost in these very busy queues. Take time to ring up and find the name of the best person to send your release to. Or look online. Many journalists share their contact details via Twitter – search the name of the news outlet, and filter by people. You’ll find loads there!
All journalists want good stories. What they don’t want is intricate architectural details or dimensions of rooms etc (unless you’re dealing with a specific architectural/historical magazine.) Keep it light and fun, and remember the human element. Think about the senses – what will people see, think, feel, and experience as a result of engaging with your project.
Space is at a premium in newspapers and long, wordy quotes never go down well. Prepare your messages and keep focused on what you want to get across. Start with the most relevant information first, and filter down to the ‘colour’ – journalists cut from the bottom up.
Most journalists will only respond to a press release if they want more details or images – no reply doesn’t mean they haven’t seen it. If you want to follow up, approach with care – and if it’s a weekly paper/magazine, ensure you don’t ring up on press day. Don’t hound them – you want to keep your relationship professional and friendly.
Being interviewed on television might sound daunting, but it is no different to any other kind of performance. Try to get an idea of the sort of questions you will be asked, and have your answers ready.
Be aware of waffling. Answer the question that you have been asked, and no more. Don’t re-state the same point twice – and don’t keep talking because you’re afraid of a silence – it’s the reporter’s job to keep the conversation going.
Work out what the aim of doing the interview is and stick to it. Is it to raise the profile? To get more people to visit? Make sure you get the necessary information across, whether that’s a website or contact number. Ask to have it put on the screen while you are talking.
Firstly, establish the basis for the interview. How long will it be? Who else will be there? Is it a straight one-on-one interview or a round-table chat? And find out what sort of age and type of people listen to the show – and tailor your answers accordingly.
It’s imperative to let people know where they can get more information. Write down all the relevant info; website, email, Twitter feed, Facebook page – and make sure that you mention it, ideally more than once.
Although listeners can’t see you, talk as if they are sitting opposite you. If you normally move and gesticulate when you talk, don’t change for radio; an animated style is even more important when all people have to go on is your voice.
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