Media coverage can be a powerful way to share your story, project or campaign and to inspire others to create positive change. But how do you get it?

Almost every organisation relies on its reputation for success and it’s no different for non-profit projects, campaigns or individual changemakers. Public relations (PR) is all about building and managing that reputation, and as such, it’s very important for everyone in their mission to create positive change.

Well managed PR has the power to transform your reach and impact, and the good news is that it’s not rocket science to do! eXXpedition Head of Communications Larissa Clark led a SHiFT Community Hub session to help individuals who are responsible for their own project PR (i.e. are not using a PR agency) and shared her top tips and tricks for generating effective media coverage. The aim of the game is to get trusted, independent commentators (journalists, news organisations, influencers) to positively talk about you and your non-profit or campaign. Experts say that positive third-party comments are three times more effective than traditional advertising so it’s worth it and often (much) cheaper than paying for advertising. But what’s the secret formula to generating great media coverage? 

Meet Larissa Clark

Larissa Clark is a Brit living in Norway. She is the Director of communications agency This Chapter PR and adventure travel company Another World Adventures, and is also eXXpedition’s Head of Communications. She’s been described as the magic component every team needs and when she’s not helping people plan their dream adventure, she’s using her 15+ years PR experience to help small and medium sized organisations nail their communications and secure great coverage in international media.

PR? What is it?

Public relations (PR) is the action of raising awareness about who you are, what you do and what you stand for through coverage in print, online, radio and TV. It can help you to get your story out there, gain authority and credibility, sell more products / services, increase event attendance / petition signatories, attract talent, and set the record straight in crisis moments, and it is an important part of your marketing mix. PR is free but your time isn’t, so you need to be strategic. Larissa highlighted lots of important considerations that you should take into account when you are working out where to target your efforts. 

Tips and Tricks

1) Know your media vision. Why are you doing this? What’s your objective? Who do you need to get in front of to make your objective happen? Be as specific as you can with audience targeting. Identify what your audience read, listen to and watch to draw up a list of programmes and publications to target and start to make a shortlist.

2) Get to grips with different types of media content. e.g. social media, single-author blogs, multi-author blogs, podcasts, large media sites, and traditional or mainstream media. The former may be less ‘prestigious’ but are easier to get and build your credibility.

3) Timing is everything! Even with the best story idea when you pitch you need a ‘hook’ / ‘peg’. Answer the question: why do people need to hear about this now? Most media programmes / publications have a rigid, regular structure that you should familiarise yourself with. Don’t leave telling journalists too late.

4) Be reactive. Connect with journalists who are looking for help with stories. You can respond via social media, use a media free enquiry service such as ResponseSource / Help a Reporter Out, and make yourself easily findable online i.e. LinkedIn (add examples of your work so journalists know you mean business). 

5) DO be helpful, be quick, and be correct. 

6) DON’T waste their time, send too much information, give them information they can’t use, or ask them to help you.

7) Be proactive. Mark up a calendar with planned events e.g. environment summits, important political events, awareness days, holidays, court cases / landmark rulings. Then pitch to journalists ahead of time, even if it’s just to give them a ‘heads up’.

8) Mine your life content. If you can’t get a journalist to write about your business then mine your life (and your colleagues) for opportunities to feature in media coverage. This can include personal experiences (good and bad!), opinions, hobbies, achievements and expertise. People love connecting with someone with shared values so it can lead to business even though it’s not about the business.

What Makes a Good Press Release?

A press release contains the when, why, what, who, where (how how) of whatever it is that you’re doing. The mere act of having to articulate your message into a single page can be a really useful process. Try to abide by the following structure:

  • A clear compelling headline summarising what the story is about. 
  • Date, place. 
  • An opening line that summarises the story (15-20 words). 
  • A couple of paragraphs outlining the idea in more detail. 
  • A couple of quotes providing insight (keep it real and human sounding, and don’t repeat facts from the paragraphs above). 
  • Include a notes to editor section with key details i.e. contact information, website URL.


So now you’ve designed your PR strategy, how are you going to find a journalist to help you get your story out there? Journalist contact details can often be found in the publication or on social media, but you can also try phoning the publication or looking on journalist databases. Once you have their details, it is important to create a pitch they will pay attention to.

Email pitches:

  • Subject line: pitch your idea <10 words (avoid puns). 
  • Skip the intros. They want great content first and the background second.
  • Summarise the story idea in the first line of your pitch.
  • Informal, conversational style.
  • Don’t include attachments.  
  • Offer images if you have them.

Phone pitches:

  • Ask if they have time.
  • Say what you want (I’ve got a story idea, do you have 5mins?).
  • Say who you are (keep it real, say what you do, ditch jargon job titles).
  • Have your 10 word story pitch ready (I was wondering if you’re interested in an article about X Y Z?)

If they say yes, you need to know deadlines and what they need from you and by when. Make sure you do everything you say you will. If they say no, don’t try to convince them. Ask if there’s anything they need help with and try to build the relationship. If they don’t say anything, review and improve. Was the story relevant? Was the subject line compelling? Did you get the timing wrong? Did you take too long to make your point?

Handling the Spotlight 

When you’ve been a great success, make sure you enjoy your moment! But be prepared for criticism and don’t take it personally. No matter how good your work is there will always be haters, so make sure you stay focussed and don’t let it deter you from your mission to create positive change! 

More about SHiFT Hub Events

eXXpedition runs regular events for our community and beyond. Keep an eye on our social channels for updates on upcoming public events, and browse our blog to find out the highlights of our community events and keep up with eXXpedition news.

Thank you to 11th Hour Racing who are supporting this work.