How to tell your story

Want some media coverage for your story or event? Before you start contacting journalists, you’ll need to grab their attention with a great press release or media alert.

How to write media alerts

A short media alert is a statement for the print and broadcast press, which tells them about your event a few days in advance. That way, they can decide whether they are interested in covering it.

You should include the following information in your media alert:

  • What your event is about, who is hosting it, what is happening and any special guests attending.
  • Details of when (date and time) and where (full address with postcode) the event is taking place and any media opportunities – such as a photo opportunity of a star athlete, meeting local volunteers, and if people will be available for interview/photos at a certain time.
  • Details of why the event is taking place.
  • Remember that you may want media to talk about or publish details of your event in advance – for example, if you want to invite members of the public to attend.

How to write a good press release

It’s a great idea to issue a press release on the day of your event. This way, journalists who didn’t attend can still cover the story. If you cannot do it on the day, issue a press release as soon as you can after the event – and include some photos. Here’s our press release checklist:

  • Does your headline grab people’s attention?
    Make sure your press release has a memorable headline and that you summarise what’s happened at the event in the first paragraph. For example: “Join In, the home of sports volunteers, has launched a summer long drive in Manchester to encourage people to volunteer in their local communities. The charity kicked off the campaign with an event at Manchester town hall.”
  • First person
    Remember to include catchy quotes from club members – or any VIPs that are attending an event. If your press release is a volunteer story, try to build a bigger picture of your club by adding two or three other voices.
  • Think visually
    If possible, send out photographs with your press release – it’s more likely to get picked up if you have accompanying pictures. (See below for more tips on photography.)
  • Further info
    Remember to include some ‘Notes to Editors’ at the end of your release – this should contain further information and any additional background information about your club, or where your event is taking place.
  • Remember Join In
    If your story is about volunteers, we’d really appreciate it if can mention you’re part of Join In, and include some information about Join In and its partners.

How to take great photographs

When it comes to press releases, a picture is worth a thousand words. When you send out your press releases or media alerts, make sure you include at least one high resolution image. Here are our top tips:

  • Quality is key
    The better the picture, the more likely a newspaper is to run it – if you can, enlist the help of a professional photographer to take high quality images. Newspapers are unlikely to run photos taken on a smartphone, as the resolution and quality probably won’t be high enough.
  • Less is more
    Get as close as possible – so the action is clearly visible.
  • Go behind the scenes
    Sport clubs are all about people. So make sure you capture the volunteers who do the work that many people take for granted, and your members in action. This will help add authenticity to your story.
  • Location, location, location
    Think about where you are setting up your shot – what’s in the background? Does it look good? To make your story really stand out, be imaginative when setting up your picture. Think about the shots in advance and keep snapping until you get the best ones. And remember to look in each corner of the frame before pushing the button.
  • Find a volunteer photographer
    If you don’t have an official photographer, why not update your club page and see if there’s a local photographer who would be happy to lend their skills?

How Join In can help boost your story

If you have a story that you’d like to share with media, please feel free to get in touch with Join In. We run many different campaigns every year focused on local sport – and by linking to one of them, you can make your story more newsworthy and attract a wider audience.

We also have a number of statistics, case studies and images, which could help turn your story into a bigger feature. We’re happy to share these assets to help you build your story.

 Mel Woodards
Mel Woodards

How Mel shared her story

Mel Woodards is an incredible football volunteer with an inspirational story. She was keen to tell that story – and, in 2014, Join In gave her the chance to do it.

From appearing in local papers to winning the Helen Rollason award for Inspiration live on Sky television, Mel flourished in front of the camera and in interviews. How did she do it? Mel had almost no media experience when she started. Here are her Top 3 tips for anyone new to the media:
  • “With media, the most important thing is to be yourself and enjoy it. Note down five key things you want to say and apply them to different situations or stories, then practise what you want to say. If you get three out of the 5 into the interview, you've done well."
  • "I get quite fidgety when I'm on TV so I always take a paperclip to unravel so I'm not playing with my hair."
  • "When you get the opportunity, speak to Join In – as they can help give you good key points to make. Remember that many people never get the opportunity to deal with the media, it's a new experience and you should enjoy it. It also gets easier and easier the more you do it."
– Read Mel's story here.