Your tour fundraising calendar is complete and all the necessary details have been coordinated. All that’s left is for you to cross your fingers and hope people show up, right? Wrong…The next step is to increase awareness and build community support. One of the best ways to do this is by partnering with your local media and pitching them your student tour as a hometown news story. Local newspapers in particular, are a terrific way to spread awareness and build interest, but before you approach community news editors and reporters you should be prepared with the right message and materials. Below are 5 tips you should consider when pitching your story.
Define your message
The primary role of any editor is to produce news that attracts readers. Keep that in mind as you craft your message. Consider highlighting some of the ways students will benefit from the experience. For example, the message of your pitch could illustrate the global experience and 21st century skills that students gain through international travel and cultural immersion. Above all, ask yourself, what is the editor really going to be interested in? What will engage readers?
Identify your point of contact
The easiest way to determine the right point of contact is to visit the newspaper’s website. Most newspapers will provide a list of editors and writers on their contact page along with their contact information. Check to see if there is an education editor or a local community news reporter. Depending on the publication’s size some newspapers may only have one editor. Before you reach out to them read some of their past stories. This will help you determine what their interests are and what additional information you may want to include.
Craft your pitch
After finalizing your message and identifying your contact it’s time to craft your pitch. Your pitch should be simple, concise and creative, but most of all it should follow the 5 w’s. After reading the first paragraph the editor should be able to pinpoint the: who, what, when, where, and why. The “why” should be what drives your pitch and explains what makes it newsworthy.
Make the reporters job as easy as possible
Time is of the essence for anyone working in a newsroom. Most often editors and reporters are working long hours in an incredibly fast paced environment. The easier it is for them to craft a story around your pitch the more likely it is that your story gets published. Be sure to attach photos, quotes, and/or provide interviews. Not only will this help the reporter, but this will also help support and clarify the message of your pitch.
Follow up at the right time
Editors and reporters receive a large quantity of emails each day. The best way to climb out of the clutter is to make sure you’re following up at the right time of day. Generally the best time to reach a reporter is Monday through Thursday between 9:30 to 11:30 or 1:30 to 3:30. When you call be sure to keep it direct, but casual at the same time.
If your story gets published continue looking for ways to increase your program’s reach and awareness. Oftentimes newspapers have event calendars on their website that are a perfect fit for local fundraisers. Also, be sure to share the story across your social networks, and don’t be afraid to ask the editor if they would also be willing to share the story on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Most importantly enjoy the spotlight of the students. Their hard work and commitment to fundraising has opened up doors to new and inspiring global experiences that should most definitely be celebrated.