How to get in the press at Easter!

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A man wearing large headphones operates a camera on a staging area above large crows as part of a Passion Play in Brighton

Free performances of Passion Plays are taking place around the UK every Easter – how do we work with local newspapers to get the story out?

A good story

First, identify your story! What are the unique elements? Stories of contrast and colour will interest journalists. Local newspapers are always interested in human interest stories, especially community elements, so have a think about what makes your story unique or how it relates to current events or trends. You can also piggyback on stories that are already in the news or making a lot of noise on social media!

Statistics

Second, highlight some statistics! Newspapers love statistics and findings based on surveys.

  • Is anything happening for the first time in your play?
  • Is there any interesting combination of facts?
  • Are there any interesting findings from related surveys?

Press Release

Third, write a press release. Put all the important information up front, with the less important details later.  All the key details should be presented first: who, what, when, where, and why.

You can also include quotations from key people in your press release. This will humanise your story and interest journalists…and make sure to include contact details so they can follow up and speak to those people directly.

Aim for objective, fact-based writing in the third person with no enthusiastic colloquialisms or superfluous details! It should read more like a news story than a social media post. Make sure your writing is proof-read with no errors.

Eye-catching photos

Fourth, use visuals! Having an eye-catching photo to send with your human interest story is key. Make sure you use high resolution and professional quality photographs and that they are credited with the name of the photographer/s.

Contact newspapers

You can contact the news desk at local newspapers, or contact local journalists. If possible, try to do a bit of research on specific journalists so you can personalise your email a bit more. Remember to use a catchy subject line that will make a busy journalist want to open your email, and once they do open it, make sure to have all the relevant information and the whole press release and images in the body of the email. Attachments can often be overlooked.

 

Sample Press Release

You can find an example of a press release for a Pasion Play below and there is more help and advice on PR on our website here.

Edinburgh’s Easter Play in Preparation

For the third year running, Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens is expected to draw a large crowd for this remarkable piece of open-air theatre.

It takes place on the Saturday of Easter weekend, 7 April, from 2:30pm. A free event, it was watched last year by a crowd of almost 4,000. Although it is being performed for the third time it has a number of new features:

  • a new Jesus, played by Duncan Rennie
  • a new script, written by Peter Hutley
  • a new performance route for actors and audience
  • a new cast (for which more actors are still being sought)

Apart from the professional director, stage manager, and lead actor, all the cast members, marshals, sound crew and other helpers are volunteers. The Easter Play is a community play, performed by actors from Edinburgh and district, for the people of Edinburgh and visitors to the capital, making it truly community theatre

The play focuses on the Easter story of Jesus – a story of love, hope, suffering and triumph. It follows the medieval mystery play tradition, with performers and audience alike making their way through West Princes Street Gardens as the drama unfolds

Suzanne Lofthus who returns as director of this year’s play says, “Theatre as we know it was born out of a desire from the Church to communicate the Gospel to the general public. Jump forward hundreds of years and we still see passion plays being produced around the world and attended by thousands of people.

“As director of a number of these plays, it is a privilege to work with those who have the vision to produce them, and to see their hard work and dedication. The term ’community play’ really does describe the cast and crew. As the plays take six months to rehearse, the cast certainly does become a new community.

“One of the trends today is a recognition of the changing face of theatre. It seems that it is harder to attract people into a theatre, so we are bringing theatre to the audiences!”

For more information, to arrange interviews, contact: Press Officer [phone number] or Director [phone number]. See also the Easter Play website: www.easterplay.org

Is fundraising like online dating?

Online dating is trying to find the right match among many differnet people. Fundraising for Passion Plays is similar to online dating in one respect: trying to find the right match for your Play among different trusts and funding charities. Finding this perfect match is the key to raising funds to tell the Easter story!

Once you find trusts and funders who are of a similar mindset and value the things you value, you are well on the way to a perfect match.

 

How do we find potential funders?

The Charity Commission’s Register of Charities allows you to search for free by using filters to narrow your search. (Remember, Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate registers.)
Funding Central is another register that is free to access.
For a more expensive option, you can try the Directory of Social Change’s Funds Online website which is regularly updated.
Since Passion Plays bring many churches of all denominations together, your diocese can be a good source of information and signposting. For example, see the Diocese of Bristol and their list of funders here.  www.bristol.anglican.org/documents/diocesan-funding-guide/
The Christian Funders’ Forum is also a useful source.

 

How do we let funders know our project is a good match for them?

Now is the time to do some research and really think about compatibility with the funders you are researching.

You can research their online content, websites, and also Further information will be inread through their annual reports published on the Charity Commissions website (click ‘Documents’ tab). These annual reports will give useful imformation about projects they have previously funded.

A quick phone call can also be helpful in establishing contact and goodwill as you will be able to find out more about them and let them know what you do.

Remember here that one of the key elements is timing! Some funders have a set application process that requires you to apply before a deadline. Other funders have trustees’ meetings at set times during the year and those times are good to work with.

The timing of your project also matters. Some funders like to fund projects in the early stage of development, while others like to give funding when they see other funders have already contributed.

There is a lot to think about with fundraising! But Passion Plays are such unique projects that it can also be an enjoyable process. Many funders like to hear about large community arts events that tell the Easter story in fresh and inspiring ways. Not only do Passion Plays have large outdoor audiences across the UK each Easter, they are also unique spaces of community, skill-sharing, mentoring and investing in the lives of volunteers across all sections of society. They are more than a one-off performance and the impact spreads across the whole community for many months.

 

Where can I find more help with fundraising?

If you want more help with fundraising, we have plenty more tips and advice on our website here.

We have recorded sessions from previous Passion Trust Conferences including sessions looking at Finance & Fundraising, Administration and Practical Considerations, and Q&A sessions. You can see more information and watch short helpful videos on our website here.

You can also find lots of helpful tips and advice at The Benefact Trust here or click on the image below.

three bullet points with rows of text and images in blue bubbles with white icons for help with fundraising

 

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