Press releases are a quick way to let the media know about your event or project.
What do I need to consider?
Press releases can be written before and after an event, but preferably before.
That way you may get coverage before and after the event, and a photographer may come along to take pictureS.
If the event repeats a past success, you may want to send out a good picture of the previous event with the release.
Make sure that you send the press release in plenty of time (no less than a week before) to ensure that it is picked up.
If it is after an event, try and send a good picture, especially for weekly newspapers.
Make sure that all the details and contact details are correct, and that the contact person will be available to handle enquiries. You can put more than one contact on the press release.
How do I send it?
Email is the preferred option for all newspapers.
Do not send the press release as an email attachment, simply paste it into the body of the email.
It often helps to call the paper before you send the press release to them. An editor can then direct you to the specific person that the story may be suitable for, rather than just sending it to a generic news desk address.
Who do I send it to?
Local papers: What newspapers cover your parish? The Liverpool Echo covers all of Merseyside. The Lancashire Evening Post, the MEN and the Wigan Reporter and Wigan Post cover the Wigan area.
Weeklies: Weekly papers such as Merseymart / Champion / Herald / Weekly News / Wigan Reporter / St Helens Star etc are also ideal as they are delivered to people within your target area. Most weekly papers go to print on a Wednesday, so it is best to send a press release on the Thursday or Friday of the preceding week.
Radio: BBC Radio Merseyside, Radio Lancashire, City Talk or community radio are other key ways to publicise your event. You may even be invited on to speak about it, especially on community radio.
Events websites: there are a number of websites that adverttise local events. Contact details are available on the websites themselves.
What do I do now?
If your story is picked up, it is vital that someone is available to handle any follow-up calls.
A journalist may require more information, or want to interview key people such as a vicar or a parishioner, or come along and take their own photograph.
They will presume that if you have sent out the press release you are happy for this to happen.
You need all people involved to know that this may happen, and make sure that some of them are willing to take part in any follow up work.
Please don’t make promises you can’t keep to a journalist - they may be wary of dealing with you again.
Download the ‘Considerations when writing a press release’ help sheet from the box on the right.
What type of photographs do editors want?
You may want to send a photograoh with the press release before of after the event.
Action shots may sound like a good idea, but they do not often make the best photographs, as there can be a lot of unfilled space and people can often duck out if the way when they realise they are having their photo taken!
Don’t be afraid to ‘stage’ a photo e.g. people doing an art or craft / playing a musical instrument etc.
You don’t need too many people on a photograph - five at the most, and if possible, have the key people in your story on the picture.
Remember with all photos:
If someone else has taken the photo, you must have their permission to use it
If children feature on the photo, you must have the express permission (preferably written) of the child’s parent or guardian that you can use it.
However, a lot of papers prefer to send their own photographer - try and let news desks know beforehand so they can send someone.