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How to get free publicity for your Firewalk… Local Radio and TV

Publicity is the lifeblood of any event, and a firewalk is no different in this regard. In a series of posts I will deal with how to bet get exposure from the press, both traditional and new.

Why is it important?

If you are raising money for a cause, getting exposure is essential. I cannot begin to tell you how many times an article in the press has caused a chain reaction to success,  or fallen onto the radar of a wealthy sponsor who then dropped a huge amount of cash into it.

There are three types of exposure we will look at, and two stages when you can take advantage of each.

The three types are

  • Traditional press, think local and national newspapers and magazines
  • Traditional media, think TV and radio, both national and local
  • New media, think all forms of social media, podcasts, guest posts on website etc.

And the two stages…?

  • Before the firewalk
  • After the firewalk

Traditional press such as newspapers, tend to report on what has happened, so that’s after a firewalk (when you can also supply photos). I will deal with that in a separate post.

New media, online and social media, that’s a never ending monster, and again, for a separate post.

In this post I am going to deal with traditional media such as radio and TV. Ideally you want your coverage BEFORE the event… Essentially the story will be ‘we are going to do this thing’ rather than ‘we have done this thing’. It always makes for a better interview.

Plus, people like to contribute to fund raisers BEFORE the event, so as to encourage people to face their fears and do it. This is key.  

First you will need a simple press release. I will deal with this in a separate post. It’s kind of a one page document with all the relevant information laid out, some quotes and key contacts.

Next, find out if anyone in your group has any existing relationships within local media, mostly radio and TV at this point. You may be surprised who has an ‘in’ with someone. Assuming they don’t, you will need to go in cold.

The good news is that local radio and TV are always looking for a good local story, and particularly with radio, they have a LOT of time to fill.

Find the websites of all the local stations, they all have some kind of news desk, and submit your story. They will respond pretty quickly IF they are interested. Also let them know you have submitted by sending a Tweet or two (if you are on Twitter). Don’t be too pushy. Always polite and authentic.

What can you do to make an appearance on radio more attractive?

  1. Offer key people up for in person interviews. Maybe the head of an organisation or a person whose own story is compelling, relatable and connected to the cause.

  2. If you can, offer up the firewalk organiser (that’s me in this case) so that this person can talk about the actual firewalk. Check with them first of course.

  3. Your press release should do the job of answering all the why’s, who, where, what and when. And add some emotional oomph. Why is this so important?

  4. Keep the angles local and topical.

If you do get invited to talk on the local radio or TV, it can feel daunting. But it’s also part of the Firewalk Experience and only AMAZING things will come from it. It’s chance to share about your cause passionately. Don’t hold back.

  1. Be authentic. If you feel fear about the firewalk, share that.

  2. They will ask a series of obvious questions… Will you get burned? Is it mind over matter? Is it a trick? You and the Firewalk organisers can have fun with this and I suggest you lean into your own fear. But you also want to cover the WHY…

  3. So, be clear about WHY you are doing it. You may want to rehearse this answer with a friend so that you can be clear about your WHY in a short amount of time. Be punchy, passionate, clear and emotive. Don’t write it down and don’t memorise it – it’s a conversation and should be easy. Super short stories are always a good way to convey this.

  4. Beforehand, always ask how much time they will want you to talk for. Sometimes it’s 20 minutes, others it’s 20 seconds! Your answers need to reflect the time available.

  5. Invite the interviewer to join you on the firewalk. They will most likely say no, but it only makes you look more brave. And if they say yes, you get a second load of exposure and this time it will be MUCH bigger. Boom!

  6. Name check the short URL where people can find out more about your firewalk, your cause and how THEY can contribute. Or in advance check if there are keywords they can use in a Google search that will bring you up in the results, then say Google this… ‘Cirencester Cat Sanctuary Firewalk’ for example. Check that these words will bring you up in the top three positions of the results in Google beforehand.

If you do get a spot on live radio or TV, make sure you promote it ahead of time on all social media channels too. And don’t be shy! We will promote it on our channels too if you let us know.

The radio interview on this page led directly to Shonna Mapes choosing to walk on fire with me, which then led directly to a second firewalk for Shine PND. Again, you never quite know where this exposure is likely to lead you.

And we raised £5,000 on the first Firewalk and £10,000 on the second. Result! Here’s a link to the article that the Stroud News And Journal posted – to be clear we wrote it and supplied the photos. They just added the headline and sub heading. Read it HERE.

Good luck, keep us in the loop, and watch out for the other posts from me on how to get the most from other PR avenues.

Chris Jones
The Firewalk Experience

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