Approaching the press effectively

One of the best ways you can promote your project is through the media. By approaching the press, your outputs or activities can be featured to a wide audience.

But how do you make a start in contacting the media? How can you catch their attention with an effective press release?

On 2 July, we held our first Learning Networks online workshop, which focused on this topic, aligned with the theme of Project Management and Implementation. Read on to discover the insights shared from case studies and the National Agency.

Woman outside of building being interviewed by journalist with a microphone

Write like a journalist

The first thing to consider when contacting the media is whether you have a story. There are several factors you should reflect on, such as whether the story has a local angle, human interest, is timely or has impact.

You also need to consider what opportunities your project presents which may be of interest to journalists and, more importantly, their readers.

For example, many Erasmus+ beneficiaries have featured in the press when they had a key project milestone; from being awarded funding to mobility trips and successful project outputs.

Once you have a story, the next thing to focus on is the press release. When writing a press release, you need to present it in a way that is essentially publication ready and grabs attention from the start. The best way to achieve this is to write like a journalist. We recommend writing your press release in a top-down structure.

Upside-down triangle showing structure of press release, with most newsworthy info at the top

As you can see from the structure, you need to prioritise the most important information first. This means that it’s vital you make an impression with your first paragraph, or introduction, which should cover the most newsworthy element of your story and makes sense on its own. This needs to engage the audience so that they will read on further. 

Elaine McKeown from South Eastern Regional College, one of our case study speakers, gave her top tip: “Keep your press release simple and straightforward. Journalists won’t know everything about you and your project, so avoid technical language and acronyms.”

Approaching the press

With your press release written, it’s now time to think about how to approach journalists. For some beneficiaries, you may already have a press office. If not, you should research relevant media outlets to gather contact details.

Our second speaker, Anne Bailey from Form the Future CIC advised: “Don’t send your press release to every media outlet. Think about where you want to get coverage and which publications are natural homes for the story you’re telling.”

If the publication has a journalist with a relevant specialism (education or community reporter), email them directly. Remember to include your contact details, including a telephone number, as journalists will want to get in touch quickly if they want to follow-up.

Watch the full recording of our workshop below:

One important thing to note is that media outlets receive huge amounts of press releases seeking coverage. Many of these won’t be picked up, whether they be deemed unsuitable, the journalist is too busy or, perhaps, a major breaking story is taking up all the outlet’s resources.

Don’t feel too disheartened if your story isn’t published, and don’t give up as your next press release may well be successful.

Looking for further guidance on press releases and contacting the media? Download our updated press pack (401 KB).