When a neighborhood, non-profit or charity organization organizes an event, the first step is to decide how it will be publicized. Publicity is crucial to the success of any event. But for a volunteer organization, learning to work with the media and get publicity can be complex because most volunteers don’t have prior public relations experience.
Step 1: Make a Plan and Know Who You’re Dealing With
There are several types of media available and all can be a good source of publicity for local events. Radio, local TV networks, newspapers, are the old standards, but don’t forget about new media. Harness the power of the Internet, reach out to local newsletters, contact any local groups with an email newsletter, website or blog. Make a list and decide which organizations are most applicable for your target audience. Then, focus on this list. Don’t worry about “blasting” everyone. You’ll have better success with a personal touch.
If there is one important thing to keep in mind when learning how to get publicity, it’s to know the deadline of each media source you plan to use. Call ahead and mark the deadlines on a calendar. There’s nothing worse than realizing you missed a chance to be included in the local newspaper by one day.
Step 2: Writing the Article
In the body of press releases, there are five major questions to be answered: Who, What, When, Where and Why. In typical journalistic writing, these are the guidelines that insure a thorough press release content. Keep in mind that often larger media organizations will rewrite the press release to fit their available space. So, you want to make certain that these 5 questions are answered succinctly so the information is easy to find.
If you plan to use radio or TV, be aware that editors will be looking for sound bites from your press release and most of the “fluff” will be edited out. Instead, pare down your release and focus on crafting a few winning phrases to sum up the event.
Small news organizations are more likely run your press release “as is.” They often have smaller staffs so will not have as much time to edit or re-write your release. In this case, it’s nice to fill out the story of your event. Make the press release more like an article. Keep the “marketing speak” to a minimum or editors may decide they don’t have time to strip out advertorial and won’t run the release at all.
Step 3: Honest Evaluation. Is it Really News?
The question to ask after you complete the description, date, time, location and reason for the event is, “Is this really news?” Make your press release fresh, vital and relevant to the audience of the publication you are submitting to.
After editing the first draft, leave the press release for a couple of hours in plain view. When you return to it, glance at it in two seconds or less. Take note of the two-second glance and what you learned from it. Did the press release catch your eye? Using this particular method, can also help you find any errors.
Final Reminder: Play up the Local Angle and Play to Your Strengths
A press release about a local event can more easily capture the attention of a local audience. This is your chance to shine in a way that a national marketing agency can never do. You’re local too, so you have the inside scoop. Take advantage this knowledge and include little hints to let readers know that your organization understands the community. They will identify with you and turn out to support your event.
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