What happens if no one knows you’re fundraising? The answer is exactly nothing. If, however, everyone knows you’re planning a string of exciting events for a good cause, lots of things could happen. If you publicise your story in the right ways in the right places and at the right time, a company could spot it and decide to pay for your placement for you.
Read on if you want to learn how to make that happen.
It’s all about awareness en-masse. You need to get your message in front of as many eyes as possible.
But from the pile of enquiries, requests and pitches newspaper editors receive, why would they pick your story to publish? The answer? Because your story is going to be the best.
Unless your story is outstanding, don’t expect to hear anything from national papers. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try, but the chances of getting something past the trained eyes of their editors are slim.
Instead you should focus your efforts on local outlets.
Keep it local
Let the paper know as explicitly as possible that you, yourself are local. Did you grow up in the area? How long have you lived there? What emotional connections do you have to the place? Remember it has to be an engaging emotional story, so do what you can to inject this into your release.
For example one of our student midwives tied in the fact that she'd started treating more African women where she lived in Southampton. She let the paper know that she wanted to go to Tanzania to learn more about African culture to better support them back at home.
Rather than trying to persuade the paper to accept your story on a promise that people will find it interesting, try to tie it into something that’s already going on. One of our students noticed that his local hospital was opening a new cancer unit. The student’s placement was in oncology, and as soon as the paper learned that only 23 out of 53 African countries have cancer treatment facilities, they wanted to run his story right away. Here, the timing was everything.
Don’t forget the heart
What’s at the heart of your story? You want to get people’s attention directed at your fundraising event, but you have to engage people emotionally first. Why do you want to go work in a healthcare system in the developing world?
Talk about people as much as possible. You, your patients, Work the World, people you want to learn from - anyone who will be involved in this process.
Talk about the benefits to yourself, the hospitals and the broader community in which you’re going to be working. Where will you be travelling to when you get there? Talking about the beautiful places in the country will help too.
Don’t be afraid of going into detail about the more shocking aspects of the state of healthcare in developing countries. Sometimes getting people’s attention with hard facts is the right thing to do. Don't be too explicit, but highlight the obvious differences between care at home vs. overseas.
Keep it short. Try to aim for 25 – 30 words per paragraph and don’t go beyond 600 words. Write in the third person. Get all the details right – make sure you include full names, ages, and areas people come from. Always check the spelling of any names you mention. Type your story with double line spacing and always include high resolution photographs. These have to be well composed pictures that illustrate, or add to your story.
Note it in this format: PR – Immediate release (or the date you want it to go out).
Summarise your story. What is happening? Who is it about? How, why, where and when are you raising funds?
This section needs to be as exciting as possible. Remember every sentence you write serves to get people to read the next sentence, and then the next.
Here you can elaborate upon the details around why you’re doing your placement. Try and include some quotes from people involved. Have a look at the bottom of the page for quotes from us you’re free to use.
Add in some facts and stats here, too.
What goes at the end?
Include a section of bullet points to add your references. Each bullet should give further information about companies and people you mentioned. You should also list your fundraising activities and events, and include all details. Think any of them will make for good photo opportunities? Let the paper know they’re welcome to send a photographer.
You can include information about Work the World here, too.
Tell it like it is
The best headline for your story is a simple one. Something like, “University of Sussex medical student runs 10 miles to fund nursing trip to Peru.”
Sending your story
Sending your story to the right person is paramount. If it ends up in front of someone who doesn’t have the power to publish it, you probably don’t stand a chance of seering it in the paper.
Call the paper to find out who makes the decisions - it’s as simple as that. People like sending emails, but they’re a far less effective way of getting your initial message across than we like to think.
Once you’ve discovered who you’re sending your story to, find out what they like, what they normally publish and why. That way you can tailor your story from the very start.
When you've written your story you can format an email and send the file as a Word document along with any supporting photos.
Things you can say we said
Supporting your story with quotes is of the utmost importance. Here's some information about us for you to ssend with your main story.
Further information about Work the World - Work the World is a UK registered company that focus on providing safe, structured placements tailored to individual clinical interests. For more information visit https://www.worktheworld.co.uk.
You are welcome to use this quote from Alasdair Thompson (Electives Consultant at Work the World) to back-up mention of benefits:
"A placement in a developing country can contribute enormously to both a student's degree and their chosen career. It offers the opportunity to experience how healthcare is delivered in an under-resourced environment. Students will gain a deeper understanding of things like rare communicable diseases and gain new skills treating advanced pathologies".
You can also back-up paying for an elective with this quote from Faye Stickings (Managing Director of Work the World):
"As the UK's leading provider of elective placements, we provide a safe, structured programme that ensures maximum reward for overseas communities as well as students. We tailor each student's elective to their skills and abilities, give them somewhere safe and secure to stay, provide 24/7 support and contribute toward the training of local staff and other sustainable projects".
That's all you need to know to get your story published. The rest is up to you.
Don’t forget to let us know when your story is out there! We’ll happily share it on our blog and social media channels for you.