Guest Post by DoJiggy
Distributing press releases and informing the media about your fundraiser provide an excellent way to spread awareness about your upcoming fundraising event. The media is always interested in activities and events happening in the local community, especially when there is a positive angle such as an opportunity for the public to give back to a charitable cause.
The best thing about PR is it’s free! Rather than paying for ads in a local newspaper or online banner ads and blog sponsorships, media coverage helps you publicize your fundraiser at no cost. In addition, editorial coverage often provides more credibility than self-promotion, as it comes from an objective third party who was interested in covering your story. (For more information on why good PR efforts matter for non-profits, read: Fundraising & Public Relations – What’s the Connection?)
Now that you know the benefit of public relations…how does it work? In order to publicize your event effectively, we’ve outlined a few guidelines that might help you break through the clutter.
When to Announce Your Event?
If you think the best time to send out a press release is the day before your event, think again. There are plenty of opportunities to create a buzz for your event in the weeks leading up to and following your event. Here’s a general timeline for distributing releases:
1. Pre-Event Press Release
Distribute a press release a month or two in advance to announce the upcoming fundraising event. This early in the game will not likely result in a cover story, but could get picked up by community event calendars and “what’s happening” magazines that only come out once a month. It also gives editors a heads-up on what’s coming, so they can pencil your event into their schedule.
2. Week of Event Press Release
The week of your fundraising event, send a new press release but this time include all of the event details. At this point you should have sponsors signed up, entertainment booked, and possibly appearances from local celebrities. These are all the “sound-bites” that editors are interested in as they lead to a potential spin-off for a story. You’ll also want to include basic event details such as: location, start time, registration information, and prizes.
3. Post-Event Press Release
Following your fundraising event, you will want to distribute one more press release to summarize your fundraising efforts. Were you able to accomplish your goals? What was the event turnout like? Perhaps mention local businesses or individuals that went above and beyond. Include event photos and interview your Executive Director or the benefiting charity to find out how the funds raised will be used.
Writing Your Event Press Release
Your fundraising event press release needs to state the essentials, but should also be short and sweet, and leave some questions for a reporter to ask. Without the need for questions, there is not much reason for a reporter to attend the event or call to ask for more information.
General Rules for Writing a Release:
- Print the release on organization letterhead
- Write a catchy title to announce your event in bold caps
- Write the main content for the release, remembering to keep it short, but informative including (who, what, when, where, why), and leaving some “interest factor” or element of surprise
- Provide clear instructions (and an online link) to your fundraising website for people to sign-up, make online donations, and learn more.
- Include a human interest factor such as a quote from a representative of the benefiting charity, sponsor or someone well-known in the local community
- Include “attention-grabbing” information such as: celebrity appearances, contests and games, entertainment, etc.
- Write the press release in a professional and objective tone and make sure to proof thoroughly so there are no errors.
- Summarize the details of the event, and include organization contact information.
Integrating Publicity Online
If your fundraising campaign utilizes event registration software for signing participants up online and processing online donations, consider distributing your press release through an online service like PRWeb or PR.com. Online distribution allows you to reach a larger audience with one posting, and provides a direct link back to your site, making it easy for people to learn more, register to participate, and make donations. Many of these services are free, however most do charge for live links (which you’ll want to invest in making it easier for people to click through to your site).
Publicizing your event online has many other advantages such as integration with social networking. Include links to press releases and your online fundraising campaign on your organization’s home page, Facebook page, via Twitter posts, and share with LinkedIn groups. If you get any coverage, be sure to update and share these links. Mention sponsors and partners in your press release, and invite them to post the release on their organizational web site and within their social networking channels for even further outreach.
DoJiggy provides a complete line of online fundraising solutions, for all of the most popular and most effective fundraising events and initiatives.
Photo Credit: therozblog