Looking for help with PR?

Actors portraying followers of Jesus wave brightly coloured flags around in procession as part of the Passion Play in Brighton

Looking for help with promoting your Passion Play? Do you want to see the story of Easter in your local newspaper in 2024? Are you confused about PR and marketing? We all know how important it is to have good public relations, but what exactly is PR and how is it different to marketing or advertising or publicity?

This little description will help!

If your Passion Play is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Free Play at the marketplace on Good Friday,’ that’s advertising/marketing.

If you put the sign on the back of a donkey and walk it into town, that’s promotion.

If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity.

And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.


How to do this?

First of all, you can be as imaginative as you want! Passion Plays have a great collection of props, costumes, characters and events that capture attention.

You can ‘feed the five thousand’ by wearing traditional costumes and handing out free sandwiches or cupcakes with a note about the upcoming Passion Play.

You can have ‘gladiators’ walking through the streets with signs about your Passion Play.

You can hold a creative photoshoot in a number of key locations the week before your Passion Play.

What is good is that each of these ideas can be combined with sharing some inspiring and hopeful truth about Jesus as well as promoting the free performance.


How to write a good Press Release?

Advice from the Benefact Trust on how to write a well-crafted, short and simple press release is a great place to start.
If your local newspaper can copy and paste your article with very few changes required, they are much more likely to use it. You can download a press release template from the Benefact Trust here and some key points to remember are listed below:
  • Write in the third person unless it is a quote, i.e. St Mary’s Church will help combat loneliness and isolation in Oxbridge with a new community café opening in Spring 2020.
  • The press release/article should be in the body of the e-mail, not attached as a separate document
  • Give it a short, punchy headline and subject line that will grab the attention of the reporter and intrigue them enough to read more. The headline isn’t so much ‘New kitchen for St Matthew’s Church’ as ‘Church commits to tackle loneliness in (insert town/village/region) with delicious dinners and a cup of comfort’. Making the area front and centre is important for local media, so they can see quickly that the story relates to their ‘patch’.
  • Start the release with what you are actually doing, and who your project will benefit and how; and how the funding will help. A press release is not a diary entry; the most interesting information needs to be right at the top!
  • Include a short quote from someone leading the church/charity project focused on what’s good about your project and what your grant will enable you to achieve. Alternatively, ask a service user/member of your congregation or community who will benefit from the project/work for a quote, and don’t forget to ask your funder for a quote too!
  • Keep it concise. Set yourself a limit of 400-500 words. If a reporter wants to know more, they can give you a call or e-mail (don’t forget to include contact details at the end)
  • Photos are a must and, ideally, they should have people in them. So, if you’re putting in a new kitchen, try to include a photo of people serving/preparing meals, not just an empty room.

If you’re doing something innovative, transformational and/or a little quirky, there’s nothing stopping you approaching the national media or specialist relevant trade titles too, but in this case, it’s better to send a brief pitch (around 100 words) with a concise overview of your project to canvas their interest, and include your contact details. It’s even harder to get a bite in this arena though, so don’t be afraid to follow-up with an e-mail a few days later if you haven’t heard anything back.

You can find more help and advice on their website here.


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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