It's important to publicize your event (large or small!), not only to help raise its profile, but also to increase understanding of Parkinson’s disease and the need for support from the local community. Try these basic media promotion strategies.
Writing an Effective Press Release
In general, your release should not exceed one page and should include only the most pertinent information: your contact information, event details (location, time, etc.), a mention of any high-profile figures who may be attending and a quote from someone in the community who is involved.
Refer to the press release template or follow these simple guidelines to create your own:
- Title: Keep it short and to the point, and include a local angle.
- Contact Information: Provide your full name, phone number and email address at the top of the release.
- Body: List all the vital information and key messages — who, what, where, when and why — including the most important information about your event in the first one or two paragraphs. Be sure to clarify that this is a Team Fox event to benefit The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
- End: Add “# # #” at the bottom, which is a universal way to indicate the end of the release.
Selecting Targets and Contacting the Media
Decide which outlets to target. Research local papers or websites that have event calendars or feature local happenings. Read newspapers, event guides, church, school or neighborhood association newsletters, and listen to/watch local TV and radio programs to determine whether that outlet would potentially cover your event. Also, consider enlisting the help of friends and family who can put you in direct contact with their professional and personal connections in local media.
Call or email your target news outlets to connect with the right person. Reporters are busy, so only provide the key details. If they are interested, ask for direct contact information and send them your press release about six weeks before the event. Follow up as needed.
Working with Journalists
Be responsive. If a journalist calls you, provide them with information as fast (and succinctly) as possible. Journalists work on tight deadlines and you likely have competition for their attention.
Use email. Many journalists prefer to receive press releases via email. Call the reporter first and if you get them interested in your news, get their email address.
Follow up. After emailing the release, follow up to confirm that the reporter received it. If you get their voicemail, do not leave a message. Continue calling until the reporter answers.
Take time to prepare. Should a reporter ask for an interview (via either phone, radio or broadcast TV), take a few minutes beforehand to refresh yourself on the event details (start time, registration link, fundraising goal, etc.) and talking points related to Parkinson’s disease and Team Fox.
Be brief. During the interview, keep your responses clear, concise and to the point. If asked something you’re not sure about, refer to outside sources, ask to follow up with the reporter after the interview or re-direct the interview back to your key message:
- Example: You’re asked a question about a recent Parkinson’s study. You can respond, “Expert resources such as michaeljfox.org have updates on the latest in Parkinson’s research. And you can come out on Saturday for our event to help accelerate improved treatments and bring us closer to a cure.”
Don’t forget the call to action. Mention how people can buy tickets/donate/get involved and refer audiences back to michaeljfox.org for more information on Parkinson’s disease and progress toward a cure.
Other Options for Securing Media Coverage
Write a Letter to the Editor. A letter to the editor can be a great way to get attention. Keep it short and concise, around 150 words or less. (Newspapers' websites often list submission guidelines.) Draft a letter that explains your connection to Parkinson’s disease, highlights concern of the need for a cure and informs readers of how they can get involved by participating in your Team Fox event.
Take photographs. It’s difficult for local outlets to send a photographer to your event. Take your own photos (or ask a talented friend for their help) and submit the best shots, including captions and your press release, to interested targets after your event.