From the front line of an ongoing publicity campaign
Last month I volunteered to help our local stables and Riding for the Disabled centre. Park Lane Stables is in a residential Teddington side street and threatened by closure because the landlord wants to sell. They need to raise £1million to buy the building for the community.
I’m very much still on the front line, and it’s as stressful as I remembered, but the highs are very high! Last week we secured prime TV coverage on Good Morning Britain, fronted by a local celebrity. We’re glued to the Crowdfunder page watching the donations come in. It’s rewarding.
Here are 10 tips for any of you planning to conduct a PR campaign targeting broadcast media:
- Start by making a list of who you know. Great contacts just open doors. And you can successfully reach out to new ones, especially via Twitter.
- Give your press release a clear focus and a human interest story. It’s essential collateral to get out there, along with good images. These things in combination (plus our celebrity) worked fantastically well as we worked the story up with GMB.
- Write individual covering emails that speak directly to the person or medium addressed. The opening lines are critical. Why do you think it should appeal to them?
- Only propose interviewees you’re confident can deliver, who are articulate and will communicate their passion in the story. (We were told by some donors that they found the story so moving they just had to donate.)
- Be prepared to agree to exclusivity, and honour it. This doesn’t mean you couldn’t do anything else anywhere; it does mean that you should check back if in any doubt, so producers know they can trust you.
- Coach your interviewees. Suggest they identify 3 things they need to say to make sure they remember. Talk through the strategy the day before. The whole interview will be over in what feels like seconds. Too many are over before the main points are made.
- Make sure it’s easy for people to act on what they’ve heard. Some media won’t allow you to give contact details, but you can make sure you’re easy to find on Google. (In our case the Stables’ owner wore a branded baseball cap and stood in front of a board with the Crowdfunder URL prominent.)
- Don’t announce the big coverage until you know it’s definitely in the bag. A lot gets bumped because a bigger story breaks at the last minute. We also didn’t reveal our celebrity out of respect to him, but we did post on all social channels the evening before saying ‘watch tomorrow to find out who it is!’
- The bigger the coverage, the greater the momentum, so milk it, share it, all you can, and encourage everyone to do the same.
- And finally, say thank you to the people who’ve given you the coverage. You may even get follow up time or space.
If you’d like to find out more about this unfolding campaign, do visit the Park Lane Stables Crowdfunder page. You can watch the GMB feature from the latest update, and the supporter comments make wonderful reading. And of course, if the story touches you, be part of it by sharing and/or donating.
I could add an 11th tip to the list above, which is ‘Don’t underestimate how much time a publicity campaign takes’. If you’re lucky enough to be successful, it will take over your life. If that’s something I could help you with, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
16 February 2021