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Free media release template
Free email sign-up form template
Free advice on how to get your community news published in local print and digital media
Free advice on how to build and maintain your email lists.
Free resources for local orgs or individuals with a cause!
Are you a Hawkesbury local who has ideas for events or services that keep our community healthy?
I know what it's like to have a great idea and very little money with which to put it into action. Most of us are just everyday people with a lot of passion but not that much money. We can't afford to rent a pop-up shop space, let alone an expensive publicist! Thankfully, you're in luck. I used to do a lot of publicity work in the Sydney live music industry, and I am more than happy to share a few simple tips to help you get your valuable message out there.
For many years, I've found myself working with local groups or individuals who need a little helping hand in how to engage local media and get the word out about their event. One of the things I've found is the least-known thing about publicising an event is the definition and purpose of a media release! I have written a template that people can use. It's available for free download here.
I thought it might be a good idea to create a page right here on the website that you can use whenever you need it. I'll start with a few pointers on the basics!
PUBLICITY FIRST, ADVERTISING SECOND. Publicity is free coverage or attention. Advertising is something you pay for. Always try and get the most you can out of free publicity BEFORE spending all your dosh on advertising!
GET CREATIVE. Everyone is used to seeing flyers and spammy Facebook posts, but what can you do that's a little outside the square? Get out there on the ground in the community and do something that grabs attention. But please don't break the law or annoy people. That would be bad.
THE 6-8 WEEK RULE. If you want attention from newspaper and magazine editors, you will need to bear in mind that they have editorial and print deadlines to meet, and they need 6-8 weeks of headroom so they can give your cause the attention it deserves. Calling one week before your event is WAY too late!
LEARN HOW TO WRITE A GOOD MEDIA RELEASE. A great media release is ONE PAGE ONLY and gives a journalist everything they need to write a story about you. It also gives them an idea of the appropriate tone and language to use, especially if your cause requires sensitive treatment. Don't assume that your preferred terms are the same as other orgs like yours! Dictate the language you'd like used, such as "people who live with disability" as compared to "disabled people". This stuff is not necessary common knowledge to reporters who do not specialise in your area.
MIND YOUR MANNERS. Editors and journos are not obliged to run your story. We do our best but sometimes we're pressured from many different directions. Something, however, that will never fail to put you in good stead for publication now and in the future is to learn our name, and address us personally in your email or letter. Secondly, use polite language! It seems basic, because it is. And definitely do not call or email with abuse when we did not run your story. This is a small community. Word travels fast. ;)
NETWORK, BABY! Take the effort to get to know other people in the community who care about making it a wonderful place. Make friendly contact with people who run awesome local social media accounts, such as Instagram hobbyists and Facebook groups that share things like your cause. Do something for them sometimes and maybe they'll feel like doing something for you, like sharing a pretty custom-made image you've made that spreads the news about your cause. If you want it shared on Instagram, make it a square in high-resolution, and make it really attractive to the eye.
MEET THEM WHERE THEY'RE AT. If the population you want to reach is aged between 15-20, editorial in the Gazette or a Facebook event isn't really gonna rock their socks. Where do they hang out? Focus your energy where the people already like to spend their time both online and in the community.
Dr Ravindra Sahasrabuddhe
Diane Russell, Project Founder of The Hope Walk.
Email lists are a much more direct way to keep people informed and engaged with your cause. When you create email lists, make sure you have two different lists; a fan list and a media list. The "fan" list is one of your most valuable resources, because it's a group of people who have taken the time to check out what you do and decided to stay in touch with you of their own accord.
Whenever you have any kind of gathering, make sure that you pack your bag with business cards, a clipboard, a few email sign-up forms and a couple of pens. Don't be shy about asking people to join up, especially at a high point in the event when they're already feeling curious and highly enthused about what you do. They can always say "no". Do you have a shop space? Put your email sign-up form on the counter with an easy-to-grab pen that works, and train your staff and volunteers to encourage visitors to join the list with EVERY TRANSACTION. Do you have a stall at a local community event? Take your email sign-up list and PUT THAT THANG ON THE TABLE. From time to time, send a very smiley (but not creepy-smiley) staff member or volunteer around to rove about, give away stickers or lollipops, explain what you do, and gather more email addresses.
Let them know that you don't do daily spam and irrelevant emails for no reason - as I'm sure you don't. Reassure your new sign-ups that anything you send is meaningful and relevant. If you run giveaways, definitely mention that. Giving something back as a show of appreciation for peoples' interest in your cause is something nice that you can do sometimes. It can be hard to do that on a low income, but think creatively and strategise for the year ahead so that you can budget for it.
Above all, respect peoples' "no" and don't continue to hassle them if they don't wish to join your list. For the ones that do decide to join, YAY! When you do email your list, keep it to once a week, okay? For a local org, that's heaps.
Keep a different list containing media contacts. Those are the staff writers of local mags, newspapers, digital media outlets, cool people that run local social media accounts with lots of people on them, and so on. Take the time to READ their mags or papers, and find out which writers cover your kinda thing. If that can't be ascertained, get the email address of the Editor. Always take a moment to say hi before you request coverage.