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Helpful tips when writing a press release for your charity

Editors and feature writers are extremely busy and they get inundated with press releases. However they are looking for new editorial content. So here are some tips to help get your press release read and get the attention, and column inches that your charity or worthy cause deserves.

1: Take a little time to research for the relevant person to submit your press release to

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the newspaper or magazine then the more specialised feature writers there will. So for instance if you were considering sending your press release to the Telegraph daily newspaper then they have a health news Editor and a health features Editor. Far better to send your press release to the person your story resonates with, rather than simply sending it to the Editor and besides of which, if you send your story to the wrong person, they seldom forward it on internally. 

2: Telephone first to ascertain the correct person’s name and email

It’s well worth taking the extra time to telephone your desired title and try to get the correct person’s name and email. If that particular organisation has a no names policy and many do then try typing in some key words into Google. For instance: “health editor the telegraph”. Often you can gather the details from the internet and another trick is to ask the receptionist for a particular department, have a pen at the ready, as you will almost certainly get a voicemail, and then jot his or her name down. Also most contacts have a pattern to their email addresses. The Telegraph pattern is first name dot last name at telegraph.co.uk.  

3: The subject title in your email

Again the larger the organisation, the more sensitive their spam filters. The Telegraph is notorious for this and an Editor there once told me that often even government emails end up in their spam filter. To help avoid your email doing the same, think carefully what you type into the subject field. Whether you have had a thirty second conversation with a contact in the publishers, or enjoyed a good conversation, put in the subject field: “Following my conversation with Natasha”. Then on the same line put a dash then write: Re: National Heart awareness day, or something short and succinct which is highly relative to your campaign.

4:   Geographical relevance

Your story will either have regional, national or international relevance. So for instance if you have a regional story and you are based in Kent, then with the best will in the World, trying to get your story published in a Sussex title will be unlikely to be successful unless you can make a link in the copy to Sussex.

5:  Topical, timely, or human interest

Generally speaking, Editors look for your story to fall into one of the above, what is known as “pegs”. Of course your story could be argued that it naturally falls into all three; however you are sadly competing with a lot of charities seeking column inches. So when you are writing your press release consider whether you can tie it in with something which is current news. For instance does your charity look after the vulnerable young homeless people? Could you draw upon comparisons in the recent riots?

6:  Wording and double spacing

Try to keep your word count to between - 350- 500 words; the fewer the better. The purpose of your copy is grab attention. Editors seldom print word for word. If your press release resonates with them then they are likely to telephone you for further information or arrange a reporter visit you. Double spacing is old fashioned but do use a modern easy to speed read, typeface and try to keep your press release on one page.

7: The Headline

Make your headline or title stand out. For example: “Media alert - £2 a week can supply clean water to the Children of Deli”.

8: Photographs

Editors like pictures, so where possible send them. They like pictures of people in action shots. So for example if you have a photograph of Children drinking clean water from a new well in their village then these are the sort of images they like.

We hope that the above has been helpful!  

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