• M.A. Notaras

The Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write a Press Release to Promote your School Fundraiser

Updated: May 27




There are lots of reasons why it's a great idea for your school fundraising event to be published in the local newspaper:

  1. To help attract more people to attend your fundraiser (i.e., people in your neighbourhood - this is great for fetes, fairs and car boot sales, because the more people who attend, the more profit you’ll make) or to attract event sponsors.

  2. To increase the visibility of your school within your locality, and to help improve its branding. These are often-overlooked but important positives your fundraiser can contribute freely to your school - and a local newspaper article is read by thousands of people who consider it a legitimate source of news.

  3. It’s FREE publicity!

  4. Local media are always looking for a good story to fill their pages. They’ll be happy you let them know about your local event, so don’t be shy!

I've written several press releases for my kids’ school fundraisers and had most of them successfully published.

School fundraiser press releases are a little different to regular press releases (in my opinion) because local newspapers are often run on tight schedules and economics, and journalists don't have much time to research and re-craft your story. Of course, they might, but my experience has been that if you can present a fully formed, interesting and well worded piece, you’re more likely to be published – pretty much as you give it to them.

It's important know this: don't recount dry facts. It has to be newsworthy, which means that it has to be of striking importance to the readers. Which then begs the question: what actually is it about your event that's different and new for the newspaper’s readers? Keep it short, sharp and to the point – just like a newspaper article.

Who to pitch your release to?

You’re only aiming for one person – the right journalist. Before you start, find out:

  1. What is the name of your local newspaper?

  2. Who is the journalist that covers school news or local community issues? Actually look through a few issues to find out. What’s their direct email address?

  3. Check your timing - find out the newspaper’s publication date nearest to the date you want to start your publicity (it might be the event date, or a few weeks’ earlier if you’re seeking event sponsorship), and work backwards to know what day they need to receive your press release by. Ring or send an email to the Editor to ask (it will usually be answered by someone lower down, so don’t feel anxious about writing to a ‘senior’ person).

The press release format (aka: how to actually write it STEP-BY-STEP)

1. Open your Word or Google document. At the very top, write the date (and if necessary, the time) the press release is ‘released’. Unless it’s date/time sensitive, you’ll write “For immediate release”.

2. A good heading which wraps everything up and is interesting. Think newspaper headlines - it has to be catchy to draw the reader (and the journalist), but not clickbait or untrue. Write as a sentence (normal lowercase) in bold.

3. The first paragraph is really brief and has to encapsulate everything: who, what, where, why, when. If you can't write it in just one sentence, then no more than two sentences and no more than a total of two or three lines. DON’T USE useless descriptive language like “amazing, one of a kind event” because it doesn’t tell anyone anything – and actually, is pretty unlikely.

4. The second paragraph should include (if not start with) a quotation either from the Parent Organising Committee (P&C, P&F, School Council, PTA, PTO, etc.), your Principal/Head Teacher, or someone who will be involved or benefit from your fundraiser. One or two direct quotes bring life to your text, making it interesting. Expand on your main interesting point. If you have an exciting, firm fundraising goal, you could mention it here if there’s room.

5. Third paragraph – think of this as your call-to-action paragraph. For example, state the date and location of your fete and let people know if you have a lure (e.g., the first 50 people on the day will receive a free gift). If you’re seeking sponsors, name how and who they can contact to find out more information, and quickly describe the type of sponsorship that you’re seeking and what they’ll get for it. This lets prospective sponsors see it’s within their ballpark, so they take the next step of contacting you.

6. When you’ve finished, choose a new line, then write: [END]

The subsequent text (ie points 7-11) appearing after [End] are information for the journalist/editor only.

7. Heading: “Notes to Editor”. Press Enter.

8. Write the name and contact details of the person (e.g. you) who may be contacted for further information.

9. Write a very short summary about your school - date established, number of students, the school ethos or Principal’s name (as background context).

10. Write a very short summary about the fundraising company you are partnering with (as background context).

11. Images. Attach two or three photos pre-approved by your committee/school (and with consent for publication already signed by any persons in the photo or if kids, their parent/guardian) that the journalist can select to add to the piece. List the names of the people, by photo (a crowd of kids are usually unnamed, unless you want them named). Photos should be easy to open, in jpeg format, colour, and at least 300dpi. If your images are too big to transfer by your normal email provider, try sending your email via wetransfer.com.

That's it! Your press release is done!

Read it over to see if it has a similar bounce to an article that you’d read in your local newspaper – catchy, short, unusual (i.e. “news”), exciting, and to the point. Check for spelling errors and missed words (a good way to is to use the "Read Aloud" option in the Review tab of your document). Then think of a good subject heading for your email – something a little different to your press release heading but still encapsulating your main message.


I’ve created two examples of press releases for school fundraisers that you can follow, below. The first is a press release for BEFORE the fundraiser, and the second is for AFTER the fundraiser. These examples use fictional school “Bundock Primary School” and its fictional Principal, P&C President and business sponsors with real school fundraising event, My School Adventure's customised adventure gamebook for schools - though of course, you can change out the words and use this for other types of school fundraisers, too!


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EXAMPLE 1 - Before the event - School fundraiser press release seeking sponsorship. The aims are to : (a) invite neighbourhood businesses that might be a good match to become potential sponsors, and (b) boost the presence and image of the school to the local community.


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Press Release

For immediate release


School fundraiser turns Bundock Primary School teachers into adventure story characters

What do the Mona Lisa, Vincent Van Gogh, the Statue of Liberty, an army of Terracotta Warriors, and a stretchy plasticine monster that eats teachers have in common? They’ve all come to life at Bundock Public School in their newest fundraiser – an exciting adventure novel set within the school, published by school fundraising business My School Adventure. The Art Show That Came To Life At Bundock Public School features four of Bundock Public School’s teachers as characters, plus plenty of school and local area details – and with 22 different endings, students are keen to read it.

“We love the idea that this fundraiser encourages kids to read by involving their school in the story. It’s even more exciting because at the bottom of most pages, students get to decide what happens next – even to their teachers!” says P&C President, Julie Parent. Principal Sarah Bookish agrees. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, and not just for the children – the teachers have shown lots of support in offering their name as one of the starring characters! Importantly, it aligns with our school values. It’s educational, healthy, promotes local through the inclusion of our school and other local places in the story, and is friendly to the environment, being printed here in Australia.” (*or UK or USA).

Extending the concept of local, Bundock Primary School P&C is seeking book sponsors! “We’re offering packages to local businesses who’d like to be involved and have their logo or name printed at the start of the book. It’s a great way to market your business to our school community while also supporting a wonderful and educational fundraiser. We’re offering bronze, silver and gold sponsorship packages, from $50 to $200. Please contact me on [phone number] or [email address] to know more about becoming a sponsor,” says Julie.


[END]


Notes to Editor

For further information, contact Julie Parent at [phone number] or [email].

Bundock Primary School is a coeducational primary school located at 123 Education Street, Educationsville, New South Wales, with a current enrolment of 486 students. The Principal is Mrs Sandra Bookish.

Fundraiser Details

Business (publisher): My School Adventure. Book title: “The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here]” – note that [Your School Name Here] changes to the name of the school, on purchase. Written and illustrated by M.A. Notaras. 128 pages, 40 black & white illustrations, 22 possible endings. Schools interested in creating their own edition of The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here] can visit www.myschooladventure.com or contact Melanie at hello@myschooladventure.com.


Images

The attached photos may be published, please contact Julie Parent on [phone number] or [email] to view more images or arrange further photographic or interview opportunities at the school. Children appearing in these images have been approved for publication by their parents. Persons appearing in images are – [Image1]: (L-R) Bundock Primary School Principal Sandra Bookish and P&C President Julie Parent; [Image 2]: Bundock Primary School students; [Image3]: Author M.A. Notaras (reproduced with permission).


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EXAMPLE 2 - AFTER the event - Press release seeking to enhance school reputation. The aims are to: (a) expand/improve their recognition in the local community, (b) show how their event has benefited their students, (c) overall, enhance reputation by showing how their school is caring, unique and progressive by hosting this particularly exciting and beneficial event for students.


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Press Release

For immediate release



School fundraiser turns Bundock Primary School teachers into adventure story characters

What do the Mona Lisa, Vincent Van Gogh, the Statue of Liberty, an army of Terracotta Warriors, and a stretchy plasticine monster that eats teachers have in common? They’ve all come to life at Bundock Public School in their newest fundraiser – an exciting adventure novel actually set within the school, published by school fundraising business My School Adventure. The Art Show That Came To Life At Bundock Public School features four of Bundock Public School’s teachers as characters, plus plenty of school and local area details – and with 22 different endings, students loved it.

“The whole idea of being able to involve some of the names of teachers in the school was really fantastic. The school enjoyed being part of the book, and I think the students had lots of fun with it,” said Bundock Primary School Principal, Sandra Bookish.

When Bundock Primary School P&C President, Julie Parent, first suggested the idea, everyone was immediately excited. “We’re always encouraging students to read. A story involving their school and their teachers was really exciting for our students and encouraged many kids just to pick up a book. We also raised $6,000 to purchase 512 new books for the library and home readers for K-2,” said Julie. “On top of that, being a healthy and allergy friendly fundraiser helped us support health and inclusivity which are important to our school. And being plastic free, made in Australia, and recyclable, it was a climate friendly fundraiser – which our P&C also supports.”

The four teachers starring in the book are Miss Aaay, Mr Bee, Mr Cee and Mrs Dee. “The teachers were really supportive, putting their names forward very freely and encouraging the children to get involved. I think that they really loved the fact that the book was going to be about the school and that it was going to promote reading, which is what they’re always after,” said Julie. “We had a fantastic response from the parent community, and of course, wish to thank our wonderful book sponsors, particularly [Major Sponsor 1] and [Major Sponsor 2], for helping make our fundraiser such a huge success.”


[END]


Notes to Editor

For further information, contact Julie Parent at [phone number] or [email].

Bundock Primary School is a coeducational primary school located at 123 Education Street, Educationsville, New South Wales, with a current enrolment of 486 students. The Principal is Mrs Sandra Bookish.

Fundraiser Details

Business (publisher): My School Adventure. Book title: “The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here]” – note that [Your School Name Here] changes to the name of the school, on purchase. Written and illustrated by M.A. Notaras. 128 pages, 40 black & white illustrations, 22 possible endings. Schools interested in creating their own edition of The Art Show That Came To Life At [Your School Name Here] can visit www.myschooladventure.com or contact Melanie at hello@myschooladventure.com.


Images

The attached photos may be published, please contact Julie Parent on [phone number] or [email] to view more images or arrange further photographic or interview opportunities at the school. Children appearing in these images have been approved for publication by their parents. Persons appearing in images are [Image1]: (L-R) Bundock Primary School Principal Sandra Bookish and P&C President Julie Parent; [Image 2]: Author M.A. Notaras with Bundock Primary School students; [Image3]: Bundock Primary School Principal Sandra Bookish and P&C President Julie Parent with students.



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So give it a try, and get that publicity for your school fundraiser! And for more tips on how to promote your fundrdaiser, see : 11 EFFECTIVE IDEAS to generate GREAT PUBLICITY for your next school fundraiser.


If you’d like to know more about how My School Adventure can be an easy, educational and profitable fundraiser for your school, visit us at www.myschooladventure.com.


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