The Virgin Money London Marathon is the largest annual fundraising event on the planet and every runner is keen to make a meaningful charitable contribution. You can raise plenty of cash for good causes by reaching out to friends, family and colleagues – but if you can share your story with the public your fundraising can reach new heights.
We asked a selection of editors and journalists for tips on how people can get their stories into the press. Here’s what they told us…
Create a press release
PR professionals send journalists press releases to try to get their story covered. Use Microsoft Word to create a single-page document that tells your story in a concise and impactful way. If you nail it, a journalist should be able to write a story about you without even speaking to you. Focus on ‘the 5 Ws and the H’ (who, where, what, why, when, how) and the newsworthy aspect of your story – and don’t forget a link to your fundraising page! Sum up the story in the first sentence or two and write in the third person, include some arresting quotes, do your best to make the document look as professional as possible – and make sure to turn it into a PDF before sending it off.
Choose the right publication
Since you’re running the Virgin Money London Marathon, perhaps a health and fitness magazine is the right place for your story. Can you seek out a publication covering a topic related to the charity you’re raising money for? Or perhaps local publications might be interested in your story because of your ties to the area. Think of as many different angles for stories as possible and make a hit list for where you might place them.
Consider blogs and websites
Some specialist websites and blogs get far more readers than magazines and newspapers, plus their audiences are often very engaged. Another tip is to look for outlets with big followings on social media so they can help to spread your story.
Journalists love powerful human interest stories. If you’re raising funds in memory of someone special it may be difficult to talk about that person with strangers, but if you’re open with your emotions it’s more likely that readers will connect with you.
Be image conscious
Every article needs at least one accompanying photograph and since budgets are often too small to send out photographers, editors appreciate being given high-quality images. So include a couple of good photos with your email. They don’t have to be professional quality pics, but they must be in focus and relevant to your story (maybe pictures of you training or wearing your marathon costume). If you’re contacting a print publication, make sure the photos are hi-resolution.
Know your audience
Editors love it when you’re familiar with their publication. If you demonstrate your knowledge of their magazine or newspaper, they’re more likely to give you their attention because they’ll know you haven’t just sent the same email to 30 different publications. A little flattery goes a long way: compliment them on specific articles, and specify the section of their publication you think your story would fit into.
Tell a good story
Running the marathon is not enough in itself to get your story media coverage. More than 40,000 people participate so your story will need to stand out – there must be something unusual or newsworthy about it. So the first step is to ask yourself the question ‘will anybody actually care?’ If the answer is ‘yes’, it’s worth trying to get media coverage. Editors and journalists are always looking for stories that inspire and move people.
We’re #RunningLondon with you
Virgin Money Giving will be hosting a whole load of Virgin Money London Marathon content for runners, fundraisers and fans. Check back for regular content between now and 22 April and don’t forget to keep an eye on our twitter and Facebook.