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How to use PR to generate awareness

Adam Batstone, former BBC editor, shares his top PR tips

Public relations, even with little investment, can return positive exposure of your cause, amongst an audience that are likely to engage – local residents and peers.

adam batstone

People are more likely to read their local news than national news. There are local newspapers, websites, radio stations and TV stations that cover local news in every corner of the country, looking for stories about what is happening in their local community. As a community group,

you have a great story to tell, so that’s where we come in to help your cause be seen and heard.

Contacting a newspaper or radio station about your community project may seem daunting, so to help you raise awareness for your project, here are some tips from Adam on how best to share your story with your local media.

Top PR tips

  1. Have a news hook – the fact that you are looking for local support is a news hook in itself, but the media will also want to know what your project is about, how the funds would make a difference to the community and what the funding would mean for the future of your group.
  2. Look for reactive opportunities – over the year, there are many opportunities to ‘piggy back’ on. Buy a year wall planner and map out your key activity for the year. Pay particular attention to relevant holidays, awareness weeks and special events. Use websites to find out what's coming up in the year ahead. For example, many magazines start planning Christmas editions in the August – could you flag to them an event you’re running for Christmas then?
  3. Create relevant content – the local media will be genuinely interested to hear about your work in the area, but they are time poor. Therefore, you need to create assets that can help them write up your story. Most important are a press release and a selection of 3 images
  4. Be concise – in your press release and email, summarise the story in one or two paragraphs
  5. Be accurate – a journalist will often do research but they will take your information as fact. If you make mistakes – these will feature in the coverage
  6. Make it as local as possible – see if you can use local events to raise your profile. And with all stories, provide pictures and names of local people involved. Local people will buy a paper if someone they know is pictured or known – and this makes it desirable to media
  7. Pick up the phone – visit the website of your local newspaper or radio station where its contact details will be listed. Ask the news editor, get through, introduce yourself and explain why you are calling and what your story is about. Best time to call is between 9am and midday
  8. Develop a relationship – the next time you have another story about the work you do, go back to the same journalist you spoke to. They will remember you and it saves having to explain who you are and what you do all over again! You also know more about the field you work in, so you could become a “go-to expert” and asked for comment for this issue in your area
  9. The power of influencers – try contacting a local blogger or celebrity. They could visit your group, but even something as small as a social post can help generate awareness
  10. Stunts – can you think of anything you could do to grab attention. Many groups try World Record attempts – could you be a record breaker? 

Find out more

You can find out loads more at the Aviva Community Fund website, including how the competition works and what previous winners have done.

Promoting your project

Find hints, tips and advice on how to make your community cause stand out all year round

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