How to get media coverage for your charity
The insider’s guide to spreading your fundraising message
Getting noticed by the media can be really difficult, especially when there are so many charities and causes out there all fighting for the limelight. But with a little bit of insider knowledge, and by following some top tips, we can help you to get your charity in front of the big guys.
Here we talk about the benefits of breaking down barriers to get into the media, and the clever things you can do to make this happen.
1. Look for opportunities
When people help charities – whether it’s donating their time, unwanted items or money – the feel-good factor flows. And this is especially true at key times throughout the year. For example, Alcohol Change’s Dry January gets a great deal of press coverage by cleverly using the time of the year when people are making resolutions to spread its message. Meanwhile, the charity Crisis was borne out of the season of goodwill and Christmas remains at the heart of its messaging to get media coverage. So look for obvious links between key events or times of year and how it can support your cause.
2. Be human
Everyone loves to hear a good human interest story, and it’s virtually impossible for the media to by-pass a beautifully-told story about a person. So no matter what the subject, making it about people is the way to get cut-through. Make people care by appealing to their emotions – not in a crass or prurient way or by being overly earnest, but by being human and compassionate in storytelling and letting your passion for your charity pour out of every word.
3. Showcase your stats
The media love statistics and new research, so be sure to include this type of info in your story whenever you can. Research which brings your cause to life in an interesting and quirky way is a sure fire way to get noticed – especially for a busy features editor who needs to turn a story around quickly.
4. Think pics
A picture says a thousand words, as they say. And a good picture makes all the difference about whether or not your story is picked up by the media. It’s amazing how many stories get dismissed simply because there’s no picture available to support it. So remember to always include a good quality, high resolution picture with your story – something surprising, quirky or amusing will help you to stand out and hopefully make the cut.
5. Know your audience
Understanding who you want to hear your message and having a clear idea of the single action you want them to take is really important. There’s simply no point in sending blanket press releases to everyone in your press and PR contacts list as this tends to not get any cut-through. Instead, choose your contacts wisely and sell your story or feature to them with the benefits of why this is newsworthy for their readers or listeners.
Also, think carefully about the language and tone used for each channel to ensure it will engage your audience, as how your story is pitched to a newspaper may be very different to how you approach it via social media, for example.
6. Make it personal
Knowing the name of the person you are sending your idea or story to (no ‘Dear editor’) and being complimentary about their work (‘I loved your recent piece on…’) always helps to get your story picked up. So, grab their attention, keep it short, offer all the access they need to your material and then follow up politely.
7. Listen up
Believe it or not, radio remains one of the most powerful ways of getting your message across to a wider audience. There’s a natural trust between presenters and their audience and local stations in particular are always looking for good stories. So when you contact your local station be sure to pitch your idea to them in a clear and concise way – one or two paragraphs about your cause and your story should be enough to get them interested – and be sure to make it personal and relatable. Try to also think of angles to your story that the presenter could use to throw out to the audience to start a discussion.
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