Archive for the ‘Fundraising’ Category

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,, 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?

Print Your Vest:

My running vest has arrived back. A fellow blogger, Becki Ellsmore, tweeted up her services as a running-top printer a few weeks back. The price? A hell of a lot better than the official printing service offered up by the London Marathon website. Plus all of the proceeds go to the charity she’s running for, Save The Rhino International.

I’ve been told that having your name on the front of your shirt in the latter stages of the race is a hell of a boost. Having a stranger shout “Come on James, lets have a big finish!”, sounds smashing and I’m sure that it’ll help me get over the line. Look out for this vest on the day if you’ll be there. I’ve also printed Sir Jog A Lot on the back so you’ll know who’s passed you…

Garish? No...

This is the first real bit of blog-on-blog loving I’ve done really and I feel a little ashamed. This is because without the help of my fellow FLM bloggers I don’t think this blog would have been nearly as popular (achieving 1000 hits per month now). A special mention to Becki, Tom, Dan and Phil (who does a great round-up of marathon blogs on the weekend). I’m not that generous really though. Every one of the pages I’ve just linked to has a link back to my blog in it! Reciprocal.

There’s a great community out of runners out there so get your journalism hat on and get involved…

Sir Jog A Lot – The Movie:

So you may have noticed that I haven’t written a blog post for a little while. This is because I’ve been hard at work in the ‘studio’ creating Sir Jog A Lot – The Movie!

This year, Justgiving have a competition to create a video that promotes your fundraising efforts for the London Marathon. The prize is a £100 donation to your Justgiving page. Last year Gwan Yips won £500 with this effort (obviously the credit crunch has hit Justgiving as they’ve cut their prize by £400). With my fundraising target still in the distance and sponsorship drying up I thought it couldn’t hurt to sacrifice one Sunday to create an entry for this competition…

…and here it is:

Possibly the most embarrassing Sunday of my life (parading around London like a lunatic and getting filmed doing it) but I console myself with the thought that it’s all for charity. Anyone can do this and I encourage you to give it a go. I made this with a digital camera and Windows Movie Maker and it’s a fantastic way to drive traffic to your sponsorship page.

However, if you are going to do a video then wait until after Friday (as that’s when the competition closes)!

If you’re interested, the backing track is from a song called ‘Mr Munchies’ that myself and a couple of  old school friends, Paul Child and Thom Hawkins, wrote when we were 16. It comes with lyrics too and if you want a copy then let me know. Be warned: The lyrics are very childish, rude and resemble any song by Afro-Man.


A bit of news… 

It’s about time for a quick update on the marathon efforts so far:

  • 24
    The number of hours training I’ve clocked up since I began in early January.  To be exact, 24 hours and 57 minutes. Too many of those were on a treadmill.
  • 7
    The number of pounds I’ve gained in weight since I began training. See the Why am I gaining weight blog post.
  • 938
    The number of pounds (that’s ‘£’s) that I’ve managed to collate in sponsorship for the MS Society. Over 2 months to go until race day so that’s not bad going. I’d just like to take this moment to thank those who have sponsored me and apologise to those who I’ll be emailing personally at the end of this month (after pay day). The email will begin with,     “Long time no speak. The last time I saw you was *insert witty banter here*. Anyway…”
  • 900
    The number of visitors to this blog I’ve had so far. One of the benefits of is that it comes with all sorts of statistics you can keep your eye on. This includes the top google search queries that have resulted in hits to your blog. Here are my favourites:   1.  “is my ankle broken?
    2. “full size john wayne photos
    3. “nipple trainers
    4. “bulge in gray jogging bottoms
    5. (my personal favourite) “rik waller nude” 
  • 3
    The number of pieces of coverage this blog has had so far. These include…   1. The Justgiving London marathon page (Sir Jog A Lot is featured)
    2. The Justgiving London marathon page (Sir Jog A Lot is interviewed)
    3. The MS Society marathon e-newsletter and I quote,”James Barnard, aka “Sir Jog a Lot”, is one of the MS Society Gold Bonders this year and he has set up a blog so popular its even been featured in Justgiving’s London Marathon pages! It includes loads of great fundraising advice, as well as regular updates on his training progress.
  • 1
    The number of races I’ve signed up to between now and the Flora London Marathon 2009. I’ll be running in the Eastbourne half-marathon on Sunday 1st March so expect a blog post or two on my efforts there.

Here ends the narcissistic rant. Thanks to all who have found this blog interesting/useful and I hope my big head hasn’t put you off. Confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings…


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Fundraising for the London Marathon:

Even before the hotly contested 15,000 ballot places for the London Marathon have been allocated, the Golden Bond places have already been sold. These places are sold to the thousands of charities that recognise the marathon as the single biggest fundraising event of the British calendar (the London Marathon raises a whopping £45 million annually). Individual fundraising targets are competitive and are normally around the £1500 – £2000 mark.

This week I began fundraising for the MS Society with a target of £2000. I’d set up my Justgiving page last year in preparation (it took me that long to photoshop this picture for the page)…

...not bad for a Microsoft paint job...

I know what you’re thinking, nice bulge? Seriously though, that’s not me. But my head is that big. By the by, if you’re currently fundraising for the marathon and you haven’t heard of Justgiving then throw away your abacus and sponsorship sheet you old fart and get with it. Not only does it mean that you can grab sponsorship from all of your acquaintances from across the globe but you can claim the tax back as an additional bit of wedge for your charity. God bless the Inland Revenue.

Now, if you’re reading this blog or have written one yourself then you’re probably aware of how powerful social media is as a tool. I started a Facebook group containing links to my sponsorship page and invited every one of my friends to join. This has kick-started things quite nicely. Facebook is probably one of the strongest methods of drawing people to your sponsorship page but there are techniques you can use to maximise the effects of your Facebook campaign. See the Justgiving blog for some fantastic tips but here are a few to get you started:

  • Keep everything up to date
    A boring, old news group will lose its hit count quickly unless you keep it up to date. Keep your news wall up to speed with training targets you’ve met and sponsorship updates. Use your status updates enough to keep people in the loop but try not to do it too often as it might start to irritate your friends.
  • Use video
    I haven’t done this yet but I think it’s a great idea. If it’s funny it’ll generate more traffic for your sponsorship page. I might do one of me dressed up in my black hat and hoody running up some stairs and dub it with the Rocky theme tune. I’m so original.
  • Say thanks, publicly
    When someone sponsors you, take to the time to thank them on their Facebook wall (even if you’ve already thanked them personally). It’ll raise awareness to your page and remind others to do the same.

For those of you who aren’t Facebook friendly then there are some other tips you can try out. The idea is to be as creative as you can. You’re doing a wonderful thing by giving up three months of your life to raise money for a worthy cause so make sure people know it. The girl in this video spelt out the link to her Justgiving page by using a watch with GPS functionality and a website called GPS Visualiser. I wish I’d thought of that (cracking moment when she slips over at the end but well done Jenny). Another chap used eBay to promote his page.

Some people will send the details of their sponsorship to their local paper (Justgiving have a draft press release you can use). Now, I work at gorkana (who provide a  media database to the PR industry) and have the newsdesk email addresses of all papers across the country at my disposal (little plug there – the CEO can thank me later). Do you think my little page could make it in to the Daily Mail? I know enough about the PR industry to know that blanket-emailing the national papers doesn’t work unless your story is an exclusive or really captivating. Maybe if I offer to run it naked? You’ve all seen the picture above…

So far I’ve raised £367. That’s from having my sponsorship page in my email signature at work, emailing the link directly to EVERYONE at my company and having the Facebook group up and running for 3 days. There’s still a long way to go but I’m hopeful. They haven’t seen my Rocky video yet…

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