Sending a press release to your local newspapers and radio stations can help gain extra publicity and sponsorship. This page explains how to do it.
Make your mailing list
Note down the full name, email address and phone number of each journalist you will send your press release to.
Look online for the email addresses and postal addresses of all the newspapers and local radio stations in your area. Try to target the most relevant journalist, but use the email for ‘Letters to the Editor’ if you cannot find any other contact.
Don’t overlook free publications. Most villages or parishes have a “What’s on in Frognall End” type magazine paid for by advertising.
Depending on the nature of your event, there may also be special interest publications that publish stories similar to yours.
Always follow your press release up the next day by phoning each journalist to check that the press release has been received. Ask if they require any further information for the story to be published.
Write your Press Release
Send your press release in the body of an email, NOT as an attachment.
A press release MUST be short. It should be able to fit easily on one side of A4 paper. Journalists receive too many press releases to read the long ones.
Write the whole press release in the third person. Say “John Smith is taking on the gruelling Ironman Triathlon…” not “I am taking on the Ironman Triathlon…”
Your press release should begin with the centred heading “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”.
Put the date below this.
Next write the title in capitals. This summarises your story like the headline of a newspaper article, so it should include “Lyme disease”, a keyword which states what your fundraising event is (e.g. “Mega bake sale”) and your local connection.
Journalists read every press release looking for the “news angle”. Is someone setting a new record? Will this affect the local community? Is something happening (good or bad) that the local community will want to know about? Your title needs to be exciting and answer one of these questions.
Examples: “HAMPSHIRE HAIRDRESSER TO SET NEW RECORD BY RUNNING FIRST EVER UK MARATHON IN AID OF LYME DISEASE RESEARCH”
“WORCESTER SCHOOL HOSTS REGIONAL TALENT CONTEST IN AID OF VITAL LYME DISEASE RESEARCH”
Write the text of your press release using the following standard structure. Keep it punchy, but try to pack information densely into each sentence.
Subject – State what you are planning to do.
Organisation – State that you are raising money for Caudwell LymeCo Charity in aid of Lyme disease research.
Location – Give the place and time of your event.
Examples: “This March, Stirling English teacher John Adams will take on a sponsored challenge to run the 24.5 kilometres of the Balquhidder Road smugglers path in aid of Lyme disease charity Caudwell LymeCo. This steep, rocky path through the Trossachs was the notorious escape route of Adams’ ancestor Rob Roy MacGregor, and passes several of the Highland rogue’s favourite hiding places. Adams will tackle his gruelling cross-country run on March 7th, anniversary of Rob Roy’s birth.”
“Gloucester primary school St. Swithin’s is to host its first International Children’s Festival in aid of the Caudwell LymeCo Charity research fund to raise money for Lyme disease research. Gloucester’s largest primary school, which now educates children from fourteen different coutries, welcomes all families to the event on Saturday 6th June to learn about different cultures by experiencing their food, music, arts and dance first hand.”
You and your motivation – This paragraph is your chance to share whatever will make strangers care about what you are doing. Are you fundraising in honour of someone who has been affected by Lyme disease? Explain how they touched you. Did they catch it locally? Do you think other local people should be warned? Is there an interesting story behind your choice of activity? Are you known locally for something you do?
Example: “These three teenage runners are all motivated to make this impressive effort in honour of school friend Polly Hennings, who remained so ill after catching Lyme disease on a school camping trip that she dropped out of her studies three years ago and remains house-bound. Talented singer Polly, who still dreams of becoming an opera singer, suffers debilitating symptoms, pain and relentless fevers which her doctors are unable to cure.”
About Lyme disease and LymeCo charity – Describe Lyme disease and the charity’s mission. You can copy the following text.
Example: “Lyme disease can strike anyone at any time. It is an infection spread by tick bites that attacks the nerves, the brain, heart, joints, and eyes, and can also cause skin rashes. The disease is the commonest and fastest-spreading disease in Europe that is caught from biting creatures, spreading at 14% a year throughout Europe. Possibly a third of people who catch Lyme disease still suffer incurable symptoms after treatment.
Despite this, Lyme disease is one of the most under-researched illnesses in the western world. We still lack scientific research on basic questions, including the best way to diagnose Lyme disease, its symptoms, and how to cure the many people who remain ill after treatment. Caudwell LymeCo Charity raises money for vital research, and offers education and advice on Lyme disease and tick bite prevention to patients and the public.”
A direct quotation – A comment in quotation marks can show your passion, motivation and personality. Journalists usually copy these directly into their news article.
Example: “I’ve never taken on the physical challenge of swimming a mile before, but when I see what my brother faces just getting through one day so ill with Lyme disease, it makes the tiredness and pulled muscles seem trivial! I hope this will raise greater awareness of Lyme disease so that more people know that a bite from a bug in their back garden could be life-changing.”
Details of your event – Give the address of your event, describe it in more detail, and add any information not stated already. How do people participate, buy tickets, or sponsor you? Provide web links. How large do you expect the event to be? Remember this is your chance to make people excited about your event and want to get involved.
Contact details – under the sub-heading NOTES FOR EDITORS, list your email and telephone number, the Caudwell LymeCo website, links to your Caudwell LymeCo crowdfunding page, and link to where people can order tickets to your event or find more information.
Provide a Photo
A photograph must ALWAYS be included with a press release and it should be of the highest quality (in terms of sharpness and image resolution). The more appealing the photo, the better your chances of getting your story published.
The picture should be memorable, funny or original. Take a photo of yourself doing something relevant to your fundraising activity and ideally wearing your Caudwell LymeCo Charity branded clothing.
Include free tickets
If you are selling tickets to your event, post two free tickets with a printed version of your press release and write “PRESS” on them. Journalists just might come to the event!
Send each press release individually
Addressing each individual email or letter to the relevant journalist by name may improve the chances of your press release gaining attention.
Press release after the event
Send a press release the day after your event, even to journalists who did not write about it beforehand.
Top tip: Draft your press release before the event so that it is ready for you to just fill in the final details and send it as soon as possible after your event. You may be too tired or excited to start drafting it right after cycling to the top of Mount Snowdon!
Use the PRESENT tense. NEVER use the past tense, as this sounds like stale news.
Example press release title: “YORKSHIRE HOUSEWIVES SET NEW RECORD BAKING BRITAIN’S BIGGEST LARDY CAKE AND RAISE THOUSANDS FOR LYME DISEASE CHARITY.”
Repeat the same details of times, dates and specifics of the event, about Lyme disease, and add information and quotations about how the event went.Your quotation can include a thank you message to everyone who donated, and a statement that your crowdfunding page is still open.
Attach at least one good quality photo to the email. Follow up this second press release with a phone call.
Most sponsored challenges raise about 1/3 of their donations AFTER the event is completed, so include a link to your Caudwell LymeCo crowdfunding page and keep it open for at least 8 weeks after your challenge is completed.