Sharing your story with the media is a powerful way to get your message out there and raise awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis.
Local papers, TV and radio are always on the lookout for stories in the community, with a focus on real people with strong stories. You’ll need a newsworthy story – something that is topical, timely, relevant and unique. So, if you want to spread the word about your fundraising challenge, read on to find out how. Often, political representatives read local papers, so this means your story could been seen by decision makers and get Crohn’s and Colitis on their agenda.
It Takes Guts to talk about Crohn’s and Colitis. Our tips below will help you find the words to pitch your story.
Decide the outlet
- Research local media outlets in your area. Spend some time flicking through the paper, visiting online websites and listening to the radio. This will help you see what stories get covered and which journalists are telling the stories.
- Think about different types of media: local newspapers, websites, radio, and TV stations. Remember that TV will require strong visuals and often an activity that can be filmed.
- Could you contact your institution’s communications team – university, school, or even your workplace? They may be able to help with tips and pitch your story.
Get in touch
The contact details for most media outlets should be readily available on their website. Remember local media often have small teams who write a wide range of stories.
- Email the media outlet making sure your story answers the six W’s – who, what, where, when, why and how. Why you are writing; what you’re doing and when; and why you want your story to be heard.
- Send your story in with plenty of time ahead of your event to get in ahead of the deadline.
- Make sure your email subject line is clear to grab attention and give a snapshot of what the story is about. This is your sales pitch.
- Be sure to attach any photos to the email that help tell the story and include links to a Just Giving page if applicable.
- If you don’t receive a response, don’t be disheartened. Journalists are busy people juggling lots of stories. Follow up with another email or look for a phone number to give them a ring.
- Call and explain that you’d like to share your story. Be concise and to the point to draw their attention to the interesting part. It’s always worth following up with an email after your phone call to put anything you discussed in writing or to share relevant pictures or fundraising links.
Your piece is more likely to be featured if you send a photo of yourself or the team of people who are taking on the challenge. If you have one, send a photo of you in a Crohn’s & Colitis UK t-shirt. It’s good to send a variety of images that illustrate your story. Include both landscape and portrait images as this allows flexibility with layout. Bear in mind that any image for publication need to be high resolution, so 1MB or more.
Using your own words, thoughts and feelings brings authenticity to a story. It is a good idea to include a personal quote which can draw readers in and support your cause. Read your quote aloud. If this does not sound like something you would say, then change it. Original writing will grasp attention a lot more than a standard generic quote. You may like to include:
- Your reason for taking on this challenge.
- Why you have chosen to raise funds for Crohn’s & Colitis UK.
- What you will be doing.
- Will you be doing it with anyone else?
- Are you doing it in memory of someone?
After your quote you can insert your Just Giving fundraising link and ask the journalist to include a link to our website so anyone reading can access more information, support and resources about Crohn’s and Colitis by visiting www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk.
Helpful Information to include
For some people, your email might be the first time they have heard or Crohn’s and Colitis. It can be helpful to include some information explaining what the conditions are and why raising awareness is so important. Feel free to use the wording below:
- Right now, an estimated 500,000 people in the UK are living with a lifelong disease that many people have never heard of. Crohn’s and Colitis cause ulcers and inflammation in the gut and there is no cure. Symptoms include the urgent and frequent need to poo (often with blood), extreme fatigue and severe pain. The conditions can impact nearly every part of the body, leading to a lifetime of medication and, in many cases, life-altering surgery. They also impact many areas of life, including mental health and personal relationships.
- Because of the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding these conditions, thousands of people are suffering in silence. By raising awareness, we can support those living with Crohn’s and Colitis and show them that they are not alone.
Letters to editors
You can always consider writing a ‘Letter to Editor’ to get your fundraising efforts published in a newspaper. Keep you letter short and to the point and have a read of letters previously published by the paper to get a feel for stories they like to share.
Preparing for an interview
- Ask the journalist if the interview will be live or pre-recorded.
- If possible, find out what questions might be asked so you can prepare. This can help you prepare answers to any potentially difficult questions.
- However, try not to over-rehearse your answers. Similarly to your quote, be sure to use your own words and not write down a lengthy or densely-worded sentence that wouldn’t sound like you if read aloud. Imagine you are telling a family member, friend, acquaintance about what you’re doing and why it’s important.
- Think about what inspired you to get involved, and share that with the interviewer – you may inspire others!
- It’s ok to not know the answers to everything, remember you can always direct people to the Crohn’s & Colitis UK website to find in-depth information about the conditions and our work.
If you're successful pitching your story to the media, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org