For any community-led project to be successful you need to involve as many people as possible. This allows
To involve people however, you need to effectively present and promote their activities.
Community groups and individuals can use a range of different communication channels to pass on information to the general public. These include using the media, creating leaflets, posters, adverts, flyers and newsletters.
Step 1. Work with and achieve media coverage
The media can be a valuable tool in promoting projects. It isn’t always easy to get media coverage, but the following paragraphs will help you to maximise future coverage.
News is something that people want to read, listen to or watch. It has to have a narrative that is interesting and involving. News is something outside the normal course of events. The cliché is: ‘man bites dog’ not ‘dog bites man’. Journalists like stories that are topical and dramatic.
Many voluntary organisations feel that journalists are not interested in good news. To make your good news interesting, you need to develop a ‘story’ of the problem, the solution and the benefit. Research is a useful tool in quantifying the problem and the solution.
When you communicate information about your projects and activities try the following:
Consider your story
Some areas that might make stories are:
Test your story
Write down who, what, when, where, how and why about your story above six columns on a sheet of paper. If you cannot answer every question there is a gap in your story. The column with the most answers will often be the news angle.
The ‘so what?’ test
Imagine you were telling a stranger about this story. Would they be interested or would they say ‘so what?’ Don’t assume that your organisation is as important to the public as it is to you.
Timing and Embargoes
Journalists appreciate you sending in your news releases as early as possible, ideally two weeks before any event. This will allow them to do any further research.
Embargoes, which place a restriction on a press release, are useful if you want to alert journalists to something but do not want coverage yet. You can add ‘Embargoed until xx/xx/20xx (i.e. the date)’ on the top of your release.
If you have an event, send in a release beforehand. Send another afterwards detailing what happened and what you will do in the future.
Which media outlet to approach: national or local/regional?
You need to decide whether to approach the local, regional or national press. Sometimes, and when appropriate, you may decide to send something to all of them.
More people read and trust local and regional newspapers than national papers.
If you are appealing for volunteers for a project in, for example Newcastle, you need to be in the local newspapers not the national press.
When you contact the local/regional press, make sure there is an angle that relates to their area. Try to find a case study from their area or come up with quotes or statistics from a relevant business, hospital, school or similar to turn a general story into a local one. Remember that many local papers have different editions for each of the towns and so it is worth targeting them individually.
Adapt your news releases for different markets such as tabloids, broadsheet or weekly and daily newspapers. Remember to alter any press releases to your target audience too. One press release may not reach all of your target audience, and it may even be necessary to release different press release to different markets.
What is a good news release?
A good press release will let the journalist who is reading it, understand it quickly and clearly – a brief example is included in the next section.
Supply a photograph
Almost every newspaper page will have a photograph. Space is often allocated by the quality of the photograph rather than the words. Strong pictures may help your story get chosen over another.
Sending digital images by email is the most common way of ensuring the paper receives your pictures. Write in the press release that photographs are available. If the newspapers picture desk is keen they will contact you.
Step 2. Communicate using paper based promotions- posters, leaflets, flyers, newsletters
Posters, leaflets, flyers and newsletter are effective, traditional methods of communication. The following tips will help you to produce such effective paper based publications.
Posters can be used to promote specific goods, services and events. They can also be used to promote your organisation. Posters get your message across to either complete strangers or to people who have an interest in your work.
To create an effective poster it needs to:
Ask yourself these five key things during the design of your poster. Ask yourself again when you have a draft of your poster.
Most groups, organisations, and in some cases individuals, produce a variety of different leaflets on a variety of different issues. When designing these leaflets consideration has to be given to the template of the leaflet. The template is the pattern that your leaflet will follow. If you are producing a number of different leaflets it is worth having a template, as consistency and repetition will reinforce your branding and help people to recognise your group as well as making the design process a lot easier. Whilst the words will change in your leaflets, the template will ensure a common feel and appearance to your leaflets.
If you design a template you need to think about:
Newsletters come in all shapes and sizes and help to achieve many things. They keep staff, volunteers and clients informed of projects and activities; they keep funders informed; motivate staff and volunteers; promote projects and services; celebrate success; share good practice; and offer ‘added value’ to clients and customers.
In designing your newsletter you need to consider:
Further information, support and guidance on paper based publications is available through the Media Trust.
The key to communicating and involving the wider community in local projects and activities is inclusive communication methods that reach all sections of society. This is not always as straight forward as it may first seem and can involve a multitude of materials and communication formats.
Step 3. Investigate Digital Media
Increasingly, new or digital media is becoming an effective way to communicate. Websites, Twitter, electronic newsletters such as e-zines, blogs and podcasts are increasingly popular and effective communication methods. They are easy to set up and use, and are great at keeping audiences up-to-date on projects and activities.
Media Trust has a number of on-line guides on how new media can work for voluntary and community sector organisations.
To help you to attract media attention effectively, Media Trust has detailed below an essential guide to writing a press release.
How to write an effective press release.
1 The first paragraph: What is your story?
You need to be clear in your own mind about your story. What is it about? and, crucially, what is the most interesting aspect.
2 Subsequent paragraphs
Work through how, who, what, when, where, why of your story.
Quotes are essential and must be written in a slightly different, more conversational style, so it sounds as if a person has said it.
4 Writing style
Write as clearly and concisely as you can. Remember that the journalist reading the news release knows nothing about your organisation, and has little time.
5 Length and layout
Less is more. Ideally, it should be one side of A4 paper or even shorter if you are emailing it.
6 Notes for editors
Include a short additional section of information for editors below the article. This should include some basic information about your organisation.
7 Contact details
The notes for editors must also include the name, title and all contact details (work, mobile and home numbers, email address) for the person within your organisation responsible for the press release.
Funding can be sought from a variety of sources. For up to date free advice and support contact Media Trust (see contact details below).
Alternatively contact your local development agency’s funding adviser who will be able to assist you in finding local and national sources of funding to support your work. Also visit the ‘Fundraising’ factsheet, and the Directory for up to date information on current funding opportunities.
Media Trust work with media organisations and charities to enhance their communications and enable communities to find their voice and make it heard. For any additional advice on achieving media coverage, contact them or visit their website at www.mediatrust.org.
T: 020 7217 3717 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally the Media Trust offer free professional support via an online Media Matching service, which offers free expertise from an expert agency to help your organisation communicate more effectively. Access the service here at www.mediatrust.org/get-support/one-to-one-support/media-matching.
Your local development agency may also be able to provide advice and guidance on communication issues. Full contact details can be found in the Directory.
1 Try to achieve media coverage for all projects and activities
2 Promote information through posters, leaflets, flyers and newsletters
3 Investigate ‘Digital Media’ methods for future communications.
The information in this factsheet has been written by Media Trust, who work with media organisations and charities to enhance their communications and enable communities to find their voice and make it heard.
This factsheet is part of the Brighter Futures Together toolkit and provides a general overview of the different ways to get involved in your community. It is not a comprehensive guide or legal advice document. Please seek further advice and appropriate consent before commencing any projects.
The material in the factsheet is not copyrighted however we ask that you acknowledge the Brighter Futures Together toolkit when you use them. www.brighterfuturestogether.co.uk