The aim of this PR Toolkit is to provide you with tools and ideas on how to generate local media coverage and make creating coverage for your activities and events as simple, easy and time efficient as possible.
It covers what you need to know about generating your own local PR, from information about local media, how to do media interviews and managing media relationships – there are also templates for suggested materials, which you can tailor and send to your local media. We hope you find it useful!
1. What is PR and why should I do it?
PR means public relations and is a technique which can be used to raise awareness, build links with the local community and, ultimately, encourage cycling for everyone. PR tends to be news or information about a particular topic or event, where you use the media to promote your story or activity.
An article in a local newspaper highlighting the benefits of cycling will be taken more positively than, say, a paid advert, as a story is not directly selling something. The flip side is that you cannot control what the media say, compared to the control you have over an advert. That said, putting forward a strong, clear story will help your message be reflected in the best way.
So where do you start?
Well, before you write anything make sure you know what it is you’d like the media to highlight. For example, are you hoping to raise awareness of local cycle paths, or encourage an increase in local people cycling to work, or build interest in a local cycling group? It may be in the longer term you’d like to achieve all three, so thinking through when and what you’d like to tell the media could combine to raise awareness of cycling in the local area, then an event you’re running that promotes what your group provides, that ultimately leads to an increase in people cycling to work.
The key is that its locally relevant. Media need to clearly see how the story or topic is relevant to the people who read their news – so if you don’t have this then the media are unlikely to be interested.
2. Generating your own local PR
Every area has different levels of local media. Some areas are very well served by local media and will have a number of local newspapers, local radio stations and a local TV station. Some bigger towns or cities may not have a local paper that is dedicated to their specific area and you may instead have to target a larger regional paper (such as the Yorkshire Post or the Northern Echo). Don’t under-estimate the influence that local newspapers have. Most are online as well as in print; they are widely read by all age-groups and demographics and are always looking for stories about people, places and events in their circulation area. They are far more likely to run a story if they have a relevant photo opportunity, as visual is much more engaging than just words.
Local media publish local stories for local people. Human interest is the bread and butter of all local newspapers; people want to read about what happens to other people in their local area – real life stories. Journalists will look for the human interest element in even the most complicated issues to explain to the person on the street how it might affect them. And remember, they will only report on a certain number of stories on the same topic so find different ways to talk about your subject.
For example; you might want to keep reminding people you run a ride every Saturday morning, so what different ways can you talk about this? How about, from the point of view of an individual who is cycling with a group for the first time? Or a special theme (like a women only ride)? Or celebrating something and raising money for charity? Find the ‘angle’ of your story will really help achieve media interest. Think about – Is it a first? Is it new? Is it the biggest or the best? What does it mean for the local community? Does it involve local people?
So now you’ve got your story, what next?
Newsrooms are flooded with press releases, so yours is one amongst many – even a small local newspaper will receive 50 or more press releases each day. That’s why you have to work hard at making your message relevant and interesting. Highlight what will be of value to the paper – is there a good photograph opportunity? Is there the VIP or expert they can interview? Journalists want to talk to real people to bring a story to life, so identify people who would be willing to speak to the media about the story.
If you’re sending the story to printed papers, do check when their print deadline is. If you miss it, the story may not get used as it could be ‘old news’ by the following week and things have moved on. On the flip side, those with websites may put it up online within a day or two, so make sure you send them everything they need in one go as it will have more chance of being used straight away.
3. Spreading the word widely
Although the news pages may be the most obvious place to communicate your story, don’t forget there are other opportunities including:
o Letters to Editors – respond to a recent article by writing a letter to the newspaper’s editor
o Health pages or supplements – does the publication have topical supplements that might be relevant, for example talking about the health benefits of cycling
o Local radio phone-ins – Radio phone-ins cover a multitude of subjects. Approach relevant radio producers with ideas that you believe would make good phone-ins. Feel free to contribute when the shows are aired.
It’s worth mentioning that offering to do interviews may make your story more appealing to media. Talking on the radio or TV is certainly not for everyone, but if you feel confident and knowledgable about what you want to talk about, it’s worth finding out what your local radio or regional news station find interesting. One simple way to prepare is to:
o Decide on your ‘headline’ – the thing that you absolutely must get across in the interview
o Identify a maximum of three core messages
o Think of examples and anecdotes that are short and relevant, but make sure you can explain the details when asked
o Keep it simple – and don’t be sidetracked
o BE HONEST; if you don’t know the answer to a question — don’t risk a guess, it’s about reporting the story accurately and truthfully.
4. Writing your press release
When writing for the media it is important to remember how many press releases are received, therefore it is important to make yours as attention-grabbing as possible.
The content of a press release is seldom used in its entirety, so prepare the information in priority order. This then makes it easier for the news editor to cut your copy to suit the space available, and still retain the essence of your message and story.
First, include a date so the journalist knows your press release is current and not old news. Write a short headline which sums up the message in one snappy sentence or phrase. Try to be bold, original and creative with your title. In the first few sentences of your press release you need to attract the readers’ attention and summarise your story. In media there are called the five W’s and H.
WHO? (is involved?)
WHAT? (is happening?)
WHERE? (is it happening?)
WHEN? (is it happening?)
WHY? (should anyone be interested?)
HOW? (can the reader get involved/take action?)
Keep sentences short and concise and at the end of the article, write the word ‘Ends’ so the journalist knows this is the story. You can then include any supplementary information, background explanation and also your contact details underneath; head this section up as ‘Notes to Editors’.
Taking your own photography
If you decide to take your own pictures, use a digital camera or smartphone and remember that photographs should be supplied to press at a high resolution (at least 300dpi) as a JPEG or TIFF. This is essential because of the quality level the photo needs to be once printed. If you supply a photo which is really small or a lower resolution, the photo could look blurred and grainy.
All people included in any images that you distribute must have given their consent for you to do so. All children under the age of 16 must have a photography consent form completed and signed by their parent or legal guardian. If your event is on a larger scale and it won’t be feasible to gain individual consent, make sure you notify everyone at the start that photos and/or filming is taking place and they should notify you directly if they do not wish to appear in any footage. Make a note somewhere about any instructions received, and keep consent forms on file in a secure place for reference, should any queries be raised about your publicity.
5. Template and forms
Template Press Release
*** PRESS RELEASE ***
PARA 1: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY
PARA 2: BACKGROUND INFO
PARA 3: QUOTE (INSERT NAME), (INSERT TITLE) said, (INSERT QUOTE)
PARA 4: ADDITIONAL INFO
HOW: For more information on (NAME) please visit (INSERT WEBSITE)
Notes to editors:
For further media information please contact: (INSERT CONTACT DETAILS; NAME, TELEPHONE AND EMAIL)
- Bike Week 2018 runs 9 – 17 June 2018. For more information visit bikeweek.org.uk and follow us on www.facebook.com/CyclingUK and twitter.com/WeAreCyclingUK (using the hashtag #BikeWeekUK)
- Bike Week 2018 is delivered by Cycling UK, supported by Cycling Scotland. bikeweek.org.uk/partners/
Photograph/Video consent form
(Name of your event, date and location)
It is intended to take photographs and or video at the above event for use in the media, including online as well as printed publications. Please sign the appropriate sections to confirm your agreement or decline use.
Section One: To be completed by the participant or an appropriate representative of the individual taking part in the event. (If the individual is aged 16 years or under, or a vulnerable adult, parent/carer permission must be obtained below):
Name (please print):_________________________________________________________
Contact number/email or address:___________________________________________________________
Please sign this statement
I hereby grant/do not grant (delete as applicable) (Event Organiser) the absolute right to use the images/footage resulting from this photo/film shoot. This includes any reproductions or adaptations of the images for all general publicity purposes.
Signature: __________________________________ Date: _____/________/______
Section Two: To be completed by a parent/carer of the participant, if applicable:
Name (please print):________________________________________________________
Contact number/email or address:_________________________________________________________________
Please sign this statement
I hereby grant/do not grant (delete as applicable) (Event Organiser) the absolute right to use the images/footage resulting from photo/film shoot at the event mentioned above. This includes any reproductions or adaptations of the images for all general publicity purposes.
Signature: __________________________________ Date: _____/________/______