Grassroots Fundraising Guide: 3 - Creating Ichthyosis Awareness
Creating Ichthyosis Awareness
The more PR attention we can create for FIRST, the better. Many newspapers, cable outlets, local TV stations, bulletin boards at community centers, etc., can be used to advertise an event at no cost. Another successful way to communicate with the media is through a press release.
The staff at the FIRST office will be happy to help you when you create a press release for your event and provide you with guidance when sending it to media outlets in your area.
If you prefer to send out a release on your own, FIRST offers tips to help you.
A press release is a free way to communicate and get noticed by the media outlets: newspapers, radio, and television stations. Having a press release picked up or used by a media outlet is better than an advertisement. A press release is a "news item." It is used to inform, not sell. You use a press release to inform the public about you, your event or the Foundation and why it is important for the public to know about you, your event or FIRST. The public can help by attending your event and supporting your cause.
Writing a good press release can be difficult. To help you in your efforts, FIRST has created a template that you can use. The key is to grab the attention of the contact who decides if your event is newsworthy.
To be successful, you must get it to the right person. Making a phone call to the media outlet(s) in your area, or visiting their website will usually help you determine the appropriate contact for your release. Be specific when telling them why you are calling. Find out the exact name, title and address of this person and properly address it to him/her.
Once the right person sees your press release, you need to grab their attention out of all the other releases they receive. Use a catchy phrase, title, and photo to catch their eye so that they will continue to read the rest of your release.
Now that you have caught their attention, one of three things will happen. Your press release will be published as you have written it; you will receive a call for more information and maybe wider coverage, or your press release will not get picked up. All this will depend on your message and your presentation.
Here are some helpful tips to give you a better chance of the release being published.
- Is my release newsworthy? Your release should compare similarly to the stories in the media at the moment in regards to interest and local flair.
- Should I put all the details in my release? Yes. The goal is to have your release published as written. If the media outlet would like more information, they will call for additional details, but most outlets prefer to have the information ready to be published.
- Are all my details in the release correct? Make sure that all the details are as accurate as possible. Never lie, stretch or bend the truth. This will create negative long-term consequences.
- Should I customize my release for specific news outlets? Absolutely. A release that will work for radio may not work for a newspaper or vice versa. Also, what works for one newspaper may not be appropriate for another servicing the same area. Take some time to tailor your release; it will be repaid by having more successes. Most media reporters or editors have extremely busy schedules and simply do not have the time to sort through all the releases they get. They will pay attention to those that require the least amount of time and attention to make them usable in their format and style.
- Should I include the FIRST logo? Always. The logo sends a message that the release is official. It also should include a name and contact details, should verification or more details be required.
- Are deadlines important? Extremely. Call and find out about all deadlines. Each media outlet will have their own deadlines-learn them and submit your releases accordingly.
- Should I include a photo? Always. Remember the old saying "a picture tells a thousand words.” Ichthyosis is a very visible disorder and by including a photo, it will help draw attention. In the end, the photo may get cut from the printed release, but it will help attract initial attention.
- What should I do after I send my release? A few days after you send it, call the contact person and ask if they require any more details. By making this call, you will have the opportunity to introduce yourself, making your release more personal. It may also bring your release into view, if originally rejected, for reconsideration. You will also be available to answer any questions he/she may have.
- How should I present my release? The release should always be typed and be limited to one page only, if possible. You should also provide FIRST’s phone number, email address, and website. If your release is being sent to only one location, consider having the word "exclusive" some place where it will be easily seen. It is important that you keep the release concise, precise, and to the point.
- What common mistakes should I avoid? Missed deadline; reads too much like an advertisement; too long; too short; poorly written; content unsuitable; untimely; not enough local flair; incorrect address; or too little relevant details.
Press Releases should be delivered via email. Then, follow up with a phone call to the media outlet in a few days.