Fundraising: our guide to approaching your local media

September 1, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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When you have registered for your Gap Medics placement, the next thing you need to start considering is how to raise the money to go. Although it is definitely a serious commitment, plenty of our students have successfully fundraised the whole lot – your student experience manager will still be able to send you our fundraising guide full of ideas!

So once you’ve decided on your bake sale, sponsored swim or crowdfunding campaign, how do you let the whole world know? One of the best ways is by contacting your local media outlets – and we’ve put together a few tips to help you do just that.

Hot off the Press

Local newspapers are always looking for interesting stories relating to the areas they cover, and because news moves fast, they need as much news as possible. That doesn’t mean they’ll come to you, though – you’ve got to be proactive!

To let your local press know about your fundraising efforts, ring their news desk and ask for the most appropriate contact email (if you send it to a generic address, it might get lost or deleted). When you email them, be sure to include a document called a press release with all of the information news outlets need – the charity Friends of the Earth have this great template that you can use to build your own document.

Press releases don’t need to be really long – in fact, the more to the point the better! Don’t forget to include a picture of yourself (preferably in your Gap Medics t-shirt!) and a link to our page or your fundraising site.

Get yourself on air

Radio stations are another good option for some publicity for your trip. Whilst we’re sure Radio 1 would love to help everyone that listens, think more locally such as your region’s BBC station or other commercial ones like Capital, Heart or Metro – you can find a list of your local stations here.

As with newspapers, a general email address will probably receive hundreds of messages per day. Most radio stations will have a switchboard so you can ring them and ask to be put through to the news desk. You may also like to try speaking to the producers of the mid-morning or early afternoon shows, who may do lifestyle or charity-related pieces and have some more time to speak to you. A quick search of the station’s website should let you know who presents these shows, so you know who to ask for.

As tempting as it might be, don’t contact the live show via the number you hear on air – it would be extremely unlikely the production team would put you on air that day and you risk actually annoying the station rather than providing them with a great story to cover.

Contact your school, college or university

It’s not surprising that places of learning love to share stories about their current and former students – after all, it paints them in a great light if you’re off doing fantastic things!

Your commitment to coming on the adventure of a lifetime would make a great alumni story, so be sure to get in touch with your school or college (even if you’re not there anymore) and they may be willing to share your fundraising information on their blog, newsletter, or social media.

All major universities will have a press office which works to collect exciting student stories as well as promoting the research or discoveries made by the institution. They would be delighted to hear what you’re up to and may share the information on their blog or email it across the different university departments. Make sure you send your press release so that they get all of the information they need.

What if the journalists don’t reply?

Journalists have an extremely stressful job, and there is no such thing as a ‘slow news day’. If you find that your interview or newspaper article has not appeared when you expected, don’t be disheartened. News outlets have to respond to breaking stories all the time and make tough decisions about what to report on. They will always try to use a good story, even if it is a few hours or a few days later than planned.

If you’re having trouble getting a response at all, the best thing to do is call the person you’ve emailed. They may have put your message to one side and forgotten about it, or need a little push. It’s possible you are not reaching the most relevant person – you could try phoning the switchboard again and asking for a better contact.

Phone calls can feel a lot scarier than emails but they are far better at reaching the right person.

Best of luck!

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.