By Climate Love founder Charlotte Squire
You’re on the brink of launching your amazing, low carbon project and you’re ready for some media lovin’. You’ve got your branding all sorted, your website up and running, and you think you’re offering pretty something awesome to the world.
There’s only one problem: so far the media attention has been lukewarm. Actually that’s overstating it. Think: tumbleweeds on barren, dusty streets.
So how can you win the attention of your local paper, or that magazine you’ve dreaming of appearing in?
Ok, here’s some stuff you need to know.
Editors – the people who oversee newspapers and magazines – are always on the look out for new stories. So this is a good start for you. They want: new, different, and novel. They want a new spin on an old story. They want a unique personality that they haven’t heard of before. Your new business or project could be just what they’re looking for.
The same can apply to magazines – if you’re covering a subject they are obviously passionate about and they like to write about – there’s hope my friend. It can help to check out their ‘writer’s guidelines’ online and know their style in general, to get a feel for the type of articles they’re publishing. Find magazines with green stories that you love. Low carbon is becoming sexier with every month that passes, so there will be opportunities out there, I just know it!
If you’re going for the attention of your local media (and this could include TV and radio) chances are higher that you’ll get covered simply because you’re part of their community and you’re doing something new.
Just to let you know – there are many different types of articles. There are news pieces, profiles, opinion columns, features and many more. Don’t ask for a feature article. A feature is a long, detailed article. The launch of your project is probably going to be more along the lines of a news article, or a business story.
So, you can either email the editors a press release, or a less formal short pitch, or both.
A press release is a formal story about your new project. And the ‘less formal pitch’ is literally a friendly, specific, concise paragraph about your mission.
Here’s a short run down on how to write a press release:
- Start with the main point you want to make about your project and make that your first paragraph. You can write it in the past or present tense. For example: ‘Carbon neutral, organic veggie boxes sourced within a 20 km radius are now available to the Whitfield community.’
- Next – write the second most important information in paragraph two, for example ‘The veggie box scheme is being launched by growers Abbie Smith and Polly King. The pair have sourced food from ten different growers. Their carbon offsetting will help keep the nearby St George forest intact.’
- Follow on with a few more short, simple, informative paragraphs. As an editor once said to me as I struggled with over-complication-writer’s-anxiety: “Just write what’s happening.”
- Make sure you cover the ‘who, what, when, how, why, who’ basic information. Be clear. Be specific.
- Keep it strictly to the point, backing up the announcement you made in the first paragraph. One short (like two to three short lines) paragraph at a time.
- Should you write about the long, winding, sometimes tragic, other times hilarious history of your new project? Nope. What about how hard it was to find a good place to run the business from? No. Your parsley supply issues? Um, no. Just keep it very simple. If they want to know more, they’ll ask you.
- Finish with your contact details at the very end.
- If you want to you can include a photo – with your main subject matter filling the frame of the shot (so not 50 metres away, a mere spec on the horizon, but close enough that the editor can clearly see your sunny smile).
- Email your press release to the editor (or editors) and leave it with them. Ideally they’ll notice it and run with it. This means they could rewrite it and use it, give it to a reporter who will call you, or simply use it as it is (if it’s well written).
Option number two – you write a short email pitch that could read something like this:
‘Hi, my name’s Abbie Smith and I’m starting up a new carbon-neutral, organic veggie box scheme with my friend Polly King, here in Whitfield. We’ll be sourcing all produce from within a 20 km radius of our house. Our project will help keep the St George forest intact. We’re launching December 1st. Would you be willing to write a story about us? With thanks for your time, Abbie.’
Can you follow up with a phone call? YES! Chase them up and at the very worst they’ll say ‘no’. But hopefully, fingers crossed, you’ll get yourself some nice media coverage.
You can send editors both the press release and the short pitch (at the top), or just the short pitch. Just make sure you cover the ‘who, what, when, how, why, who’ stuff.
Best of luck with the launch of your most awesome climate loving project and thanks for making the world an even more amazing place with your passion. Keep trusting that inner spark of yours!
Charlotte Squire believes everyone has something to offer a low carbon world. She encourages people to dream big and believe in their eco-friendly dreams via Climate Love – which is both a new low carbon newspaper based in Nelson Tasman, New Zealand, AND a communication support service for people who are taking the low carbon leap. She has been a reporter for fifteen years for multiple newspapers and magazines. She also established and sold Happyzine – a Kiwi good news website.She recently wrote her first short novel – The Springs – about five highly intuitive people who saved Te Waikoropupu Springs.
Find her at: charlottesquire.wordpress.com