PR - secrets to success

We all want our story covered in our local newspaper, but the truth is journalists get sent hundreds of press releases and don’t get the time to read through them all. So it’s crucial that you get your information out - in plain language - in easily digestible chunks and in a form that will be used.

Effectively communicating your story requires a combination of traditional media outreach and engaging an increasingly diverse array of bloggers and other social media. This section will provide you with some useful tips to help you reach out to journalists.

Media 101

Getting your event in the press can be pretty straight forward if you match your event to the right media or newspaper feature. Local newspapers, magazines and radio love featuring the local community and if something particularly interesting is happening like a Global Entrepreneurship Week event you are even more likely to gain press attention.

High press coverage may mean that a local celebrity or personality will attend and this will give your event extra buzz. Below are a few ideas on researching and contacting the press.

Different features in newspaper may be right for your event. Think about contacting the:

  • News Editor or News Desk
  • Diarist (or someone that works on the diary page)
  • Features Editor of Features Desk
  • Listings Editor (or someone that works on the Listings and events)
  • Picture editor or Picture Desk

Try the News website http://news.mysociety.org as it has the contact details of every local newspaper in the UK or check out Radio-now.co.uk www.radio-now.co.uk/main.htm to find the local radio stations in your area.

When calling up your local radio station ask to speak to someone from the News desk. However try not to call on the hour as the people on the news desk tend to read the bulletins too!

Tips on Releases

The standard way to contact media outlets is through a press release. You can find contact information in the publication or on their website. It’s important to keep in mind that these places are flooded with releases every day, so you need to get their attention immediately.

  • Find out the publication’s deadline for receiving news stories and send your release well in advance. A lot of times events like the Week will end up in a calendar, and those submissions often have deadlines long before the publication date.
  • Always ask for the contact name and e-mail address of the person you have spoken to, so you can call them again to follow up.
  • Know your media. Make sure you’ve read the publication to which you’re pitching your story. If there is a regular format to the section or page, fit your news idea to suit it. For example, they might have a school column or a local business page.
  • Quirky, unusual or unexpected events and activities are always newsworthy. Your local media will always be interested in a story that may be funny, exciting or cute. So, personalize the release to highlight the off-beat things you are doing.

Tips on Pitching

Another way to gain local media attention is to call reporters and pitch to them directly.

  • Keep your pitch short and to the point. Journalists are busy. Don’t be offended if they sound uninterested at first. Readers also tend to be the best sources of community stories, so let them know why the Week is worth their time to cover.
  • Focus all the key information at the beginning of the conversation – the Global Entrepreneurship Week name, it’s global scope, and details of your local event. Try to get this information across in a meaningful, but efficient way.
  • Highlight how you’re impacting the local community, the youth that are involved, or how entrepreneurs can help the struggling economy – whatever you think would be most newsworthy in your community.
  • Highlight photo opportunities. Newspapers in particular are always looking for more local photos.
  • Be politely persistent. No matter how good your story is, there’s a chance it will get lost in the shuffle of the news room. Make a follow-up call closer to the event.
  • Be aware that interaction with bloggers is different from interaction with traditional media. If the blog is influential, show you’re engaged by spending time commenting on blog posts.
  • Ask a local radio DJ to broadcast from your event, or ask the editor of a local newspaper to be a judge at an event. This will make it more likely that you will get media coverage.

Local connections

Using the connections you may already have is one of the best ways to get your event promoted. And making connections with the local community is a great way of adding a local spirit.

It’s always worth sending information about your events to any community groups like the church. Below are a few ideas and links to networks, business and community group who you can promote your Global Entrepreneurship Week event:

  • If you are a school, college or university look at your local Yellow Pages for businesses (or Yell.com www.yell.com) and get them to advertise your event in their internal communications, newsletter or any other local advertising, such as flyers or direct mail
  • Find your local PTA (Parent Teacher Association) or school governor board and catalyse events through them
  • Contact local church groups to promote your event in their newsletters or via church announcements
  • Find your local WI (Woman Institute) www.thewi.org.uk and make connections with them
  • If you are a business think about twinning with the local Primary and Secondary schools and Further Education Colleges or Universities.