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How to use good timing to get your story in the press

Timing is the secret to getting media coverage. Here are some ways to help your story be in the right place at the right time.


Use your significant dates

What anniversaries are connected with your organisation? Can you identify dates for the first, last, or 100th time for anything connected with your aims? For example, Cardiff Foodbank made headlines opening its first distribution centre in the city.

Your significant dates can be flagged up in advance, to attract support. For example, Emmaus in Dover featured in its local paper for an upcoming dance to mark its 20th anniversary.

The Exeter Gateway Centre, where adults with learning difficulties meet for social and recreational activities, gained coverage marking its 10th anniversary with a story straight after the event.


Keep track of other dates

Take some time to research how you can relate to what else is going on. Sporting groups can get good exposure by taking part in established and new charity challenges and events. Time Outdoors provide a useful calendar.

For example, Torrington Red Cross branch took advantage of both the charity’s 100th anniversary and the outbreak of the First World War to publicise a story about a special find.

Awareness days, weeks and even months offer lots of opportunities to piggyback on media-friendly activities. The calendar of national awareness days lists events as contrasting as National Fish and Chip Day, World Toilet Day and Men’s Health Week.

For example, showcase your volunteers during National Volunteers’ Week, an annual event led by NCVO. Make a mark with fun dates like International Talk Like a Pirate Day or April Fool’s Day (take a look at these great charity April Fool’s from 2015).


Plan ahead - gather timely statistics

Think about how to use the compelling numbers illustrating the work you do. For example, Homeless charity, Harp launched a Christmas appeal to serve 1,000 festive dinners. Education charity Ernest Cook Trust marked 25,000 outdoor visits by schoolchildren.

A look back or round-up of the year always make popular newspaper features. This review from MINT, Norwich College’s employment project, contains plenty of meat for an article. Annual reports are a terrific source for these. The Big Issue Foundation at the start of 2015, looked forward to the coming year and reiterated some great Christmas ideas.


Plan your year

Think about short, medium and long-term opportunities. Set up a calendar for next month, quarter, seasonal events and the year ahead.

Environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage hold a series of Big Beach Cleans each in spring and autumn, in 150 locations around the UK. These offer opportunities for great coverage such as this Northern Echo feature.

The Ellenor Lions Hospice in Northfleet took advantage of a news story about its annual summer fair to flag up an autumn sponsored walk. Hallowe’en images are an annual hit as shown in this story of Liverpool students dressed in costume for a carwash to raise funds for the Fire Fighters Charity (raising £666 was an added news bonus!).

After you’ve done a few events, why not turn it into a news story about the combined achievements. Such as this Eastern Daily Echo’s story featuring 


Manage your stories

To help manage your activity:

  • make a plan - make sure you review it frequently to keep up-to-date with fresh opportunities.
  • build in regular planning sessions at trustee, staff and volunteer meetings.  
  • be flexible - it’s worth going off-calendar to spend time on an unexpected big running story if it’s the right fit for your aims and objectives.

Going further

Once you’ve got your key dates and milestones set and you have planned your coverage, you have the beginnings of a media plan (or strategy).

At the same time you should think about other ways to harness this attention to drive awareness, fundraising or general interaction. For example, how will you use social media? How can you inspire people to share their photos or thoughts with you? What will you do with them? What offline activities will you run? Will you ask for donations (JustGiving’s text donation scheme is great for this)?

All of this could build into a simple comms or content plan for your organisation to help you manage your activity.

Further information

This how-to is based on a blog post written by media expert Karen Hart for Tennyson Insurance now Zurich Insurance


Page last edited Nov 27, 2015 History

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