Fundraisers for various non profit organizations can all get a boost with a bit of free publicity in local newspapers.
First, pick your target papers. How often are they published? Weekly papers (usually your free papers — very good places to place your release) generally require your news item at least 2 weeks prior to publication date. Monthly papers may need it as far as 2 months in advance. Daily papers should have it at least 10 days prior; although they are daily, they generally do a weekly living section where local newsworthy items get published. If in doubt, call and ask to speak with the publisher or editor and ask them what the lead time is.
If you live in a small town, you may be able to invite members of the press, or if it’s an unsual fundraiser (maybe you’re hosting a rodeo). Consider the possibility of inviting a reporter and photographer.
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While you’re at it, decide your delivery method. If you plan to deliver it in person, know the address. Most papers will use a post office box for mail, so be sure to find out if you’re using the Post Office. Faxing is also acceptable, know the fax number, as is email. Some email releases are sent to specific email addresses so call to find out what the email to use is for your purpose.
When writing your release, keep if brief and simple. Most items will be cut as space allows so don’t expect sparkling prose to be printed word for word. The newspaper world doesn’t operate that way.
Include where the fund raiser will be held. What the fundraiser is for. For example, are you raising funds for a sports team jerseys? For a church organization? To cut the costs of a beauty pageant? Be exact and explicit. Include when. Don’t laugh. I’ve edited many releases at a newspaper where the occasional release neglected to include when the event was scheduled. Include both date and time. And double check your calendar. I’ve had people call because the date on the release proved to be incorrect.
If this is the first such event, mention that. If not, then mention how many years this event has been held. Also give a few sentences of information on the group that the fundraiser is for. If it’s a sports team, are the funds going for money for jerseys or equipment? Are you raising money to pay the kids’ way to a championship? Are you raising building funds for an addition to the church? Or for a Sunday School program?
Should the press show up at your event, be sure to take the time to thank them. Weekend reporters spend time away from their families for their jobs and often, they are not appreciated for their presence. Be sure to show them around and explain what the funds are for. Take time to speak with them. Your effort to make it easier for them may pay off with a nice article on your goal. And that in turn, may bring in more funds in the form of donations even after your fund raiser has taken place.
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