Dabbling in PR:

After winning the Justgiving video competition, I thought that the story behind it would be of suitable interest to my local media. I’ve been trying to come with an angle other than you might know this guy, he’s running the marathon and this was it.

The first thing I did was to get the news desk email addresses of my local press, the Horncastle News and the Lincolnshire Echo. Easy, I work for a media contacts database for the PR industry, but finding them out really isn’t hard.

The second thing I did was to draft a press release (Justgiving have a sample press release on their hints and tips page). Personally, I’ve never written a press release before but I’ve seen a fair few examples. They MUST start with a catchy subject line so the busy journalist won’t just think SPAM and delete it without even reading it. Ergo…

“Local lad wins London Marathon video competition:”

Key points to include:

  • Who are you?
    James Barnard, an ex Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School pupil, now working in London…
  • Why are you running?
    James (24) is running the Flora London Marathon 2009 in April for his girlfriend’s sister, Katie, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
  • Your story.
    …has won the Justgiving video competition. His entry, which hosts a round-up of blog posts so far at his London Marathon training blog, sirjogalot.com, wins a £100 donation to the MS Society…
  • Your quotes.
    “I’m very happy to have won the competition and the extra money towards my sponsorship target has really made a difference. I’m just glad that I didn’t make a fool of myself for nothing!”
  • A photo.
    This is a little trickier as journalists get thousands of emails every day, which clog up their inboxes. In my case I gave my contact details if they wanted one but you can just as easily host one on the internet using Flickr or Photobox and provide a link to it. This way they won’t have to download your high-res image in their email.
  • Include your charity URL.
    It’s easy to forget but make sure you enter your sponsorship page in as the readers will have no idea how to sponsor you

I might follow up with another email in a couple of days time if you haven’t heard anything back, chances are that they are too busy to respond. However, usually this means that they’ve seen your press release and deleted it. Don’t feel too disheartened. Journalists are always short of time, always on deadline and will discard most things that aren’t breaking news.

It can’t hurt to try. You might get lucky…

The Horncastle News

The circulation of the Horncastle News is 5,190. Not bad. You could try and get a celebrity tweeter to mention your page and get it in front of half-a-million viewers, but who’s counting?

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