How to write a press release for local media
Your fundraising for vital blood cancer research may be of interest to the media. Here’s some tips for how to write a press release for regional newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and TV stations, and a press release template.
What is a press release, and why use one?
A press release is a written communication that gives journalists the information they need to write stories. A press release can be a good way of generating media coverage.
Your press release should contain the key elements outlined below and in the template press release. There are no guarantees it will be printed, and it may be edited or completely rewritten, but there are ways to ensure your press release is effective and stands out.
A snappy headline
This is a good chance to grab the journalist’s attention and lead them into the first paragraph.
A gripping first paragraph
The first paragraph is crucial – it must hook the journalist and contain the key news you want to convey. Start with the news (‘the five Ws’) and add the background later in the release.
The right language
Most journalism requires short sentences and words, plain language and no jargon. Be sure to check your release before sending it out, because spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can be off-putting.
Your release should use a quote from a named person – this could be you or the Bloodwise Regional Relationship Manager of your region. While the rest of the press release should be written in the third person and be factual, a quote can be written in the first person and can contain an opinion about the event or occasion being promoted. For example:
Miss Jones said: “The summer fete promises to be a fun day out for families across [area]. Everyone is welcome, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the sun will be shining.”
All material sent to the media should include a contact name, number and email address in case a journalist needs more information on the story or fundraising activity which you are publicising (see template press release). The contact details of your Regional Relationship Manager should always be included for any enquiries about Bloodwise and all enquiries about the charity and its services should be referred to your Regional Relationship Manager.
Notes to editors
Notes to editors are useful supporting information for journalists about Bloodwise. These should be included at the end of the press release (see template press release as an example). Up-to-date notes to editors will be provided for you and should be included at the end of all your releases.
If the release includes anything about a personal blood cancer story, include a high-quality image of the person(s) at the centre of the story, if they are happy to share their image. These images should ideally be at least 1MB in size – any photo taken on a phone is usually this size.
How to send your release out to the media
1. At the top of the body of the email always include the sentence: This press release has been issued by (insert your name) for Bloodwise.
2. Include the headline of your release in the subject line of the email.
Send your full release – including notes to editors and contact details – in the body of an email, separately to each newsdesk of the local media you are targeting and/or to a named journalist. Attach any photos to the email. Your Regional Relationship Manager may be able to provide you with a contact at the paper or contact details can often be found online or through social media (such as Facebook or Twitter). If an online submission form is the only available contact, include a summary of your release and contact details for more information.
Approaching the media with your story at the right time is crucial. Check the paper’s print publication day and send your release accordingly. In most cases the media would prefer to be informed around two weeks before the fundraising activity takes place, or soon afterwards if you are letting people know of its success and the amount of money raised. If your fundraising activity took place two weeks ago, it is far less likely to be of interest to the media than if it happened yesterday.
Tip: Think of your press release as an inverted triangle in terms of importance of information. The most important part of the press release is the first paragraph. If you were to delete everything else in the release, this paragraph alone should tell the five Ws:
Who’s involved? e.g. Bloodwise supporters, volunteers or local dignitaries
What are you doing? e.g. holding a village fair
Where are you doing it? e.g. at a local community centre
When are you doing it? Always make sure your news story is not out-of-date
Why are you doing it? See our key fundraising message below
Tip: Send a dummy copy to yourself to check grammar, punctuation, and formatting.
Consider how frequently you are contacting your local media. The key is to always have a newsworthy story. Sending several press releases to a media outlet in a short period of time may irritate a journalist or reduce the chances of coverage for another more important piece of news you would like to publicise.
Press release template
FUNDRAISING EVENT PRESS RELEASE TEMPLATE
Complete the information in red, remembering to change all copy to black after you’ve finished editing the template.
[**Case study interview available** only keep if appropriate]
Name of town resident/cancer patient/survivor celebrating raising ££ for blood cancer charity/holding/organising/taking on name of event for blood cancer charity/in memory of…
A insert name of town resident/blood cancer patient/dad/couple etc. is/are holding/organising/taking part in type of eventon date to raise money for blood cancer research charity Bloodwise, after [include very brief motivation/personal reasons here if happy to disclose].
Name, age, is taking part in/organising the name of event on date after [If you’ve a blood cancer story to tell, include details here. This could include the type of blood cancer you’ve been affected by, how it came to be diagnosed, if there were symptoms, what the key dates were (diagnosis, remission), and the current situation.]
You can share as little or as much detail as you are comfortable with, though we recommend keeping this to one or two short paragraphs.
[e.g. Joanne Bloggs is hosting the afternoon tea fundraiser after her husband was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in September 2012, at the age of 43. He’d been experiencing extreme tiredness and night sweats, and after visiting the doctors for a blood test, was diagnosed with the disease.]
Your name says: “[First part of quote could include more details on your blood cancer story or motivation for your fundraising]”. [We recommend keeping this to one paragraph].
[Additional information about the challenge e.g. how far, where exactly it starts, whether it’s been done before/anything quirky about it/how people can get involved etc.].
Your name continues: “[Second part of quote could include more details of how and why you chose the challenge/event/fundraiser, why fundraising for Bloodwise is important to you and how much you hope to raise].” [We recommend keeping this to one paragraph].
The money name raises/has raised will be invested in research into blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, as well as patient support services for those affected by the disease.
Siobhan Handley, Deputy Director of Public Fundraising and Individual Giving at Bloodwise, says: “Thanks to fundraisers like name, we can continue to fund research projects that will find more effective and less harsh treatments for blood cancer, a disease which kills more people each year than breast or prostate cancer. We are incredibly grateful to him/her/them for taking on this challenge and to all those who have donated/signed up in support him/her/them so far [include as relevant to your fundraiser/event].”
To support name/to sign up to name of event please visit: [insert link to fundraising page/information about how to get involved.]
Notes to Editors
For further information, please contact Your Name [or relevant contact] on phone or email
Bloodwise Press Office:
Email: email@example.com | Tel: 020 7504 2219
Bloodwise is the UK’s specialist blood cancer charity dedicated to improving the lives of patients. Around 40,000 people of all ages, from children to adults, are diagnosed with blood cancers and related disorders every year in the UK. For more information visit bloodwise.org.uk