Media Trust toolkit
Media and communications toolkit
To help support National Lottery funded community-led climate action projects with communicating and sharing the work they are doing, we commissioned Media Trust to create a media and communications toolkit.
This toolkit offers advice on putting together a communications plan, creating content and gaining media coverage, as well as customisable templates for emails, posters, press releases and social media copy and a list of useful resources and guidelines.
Case study photography release form
You can use this form to confirm consent of the people involved if you’re setting up your own photoshoot to capture images for your campaign. It’s good practice to secure written permission from the volunteers (or ‘models’) that take part in your shoot and feature in the images.
Ensure your models have each signed and returned a copy of this form to you before you publish or share any images that they feature in.
There’s also a space for a witness signature for models who are under 18. This can’t be you or the model themselves.
This template will help you capture all the important information about how you’re going to communicate about your project in one place. It will also help when you come evaluate the success of your communications.
Your media release should tell journalists who you are and what your project is. It should be written in third person and use factual, plain language. In the main body of the release, try to avoid using particularly hyperbolic adjectives like “amazing” and “brilliant”. For example, instead of “Grow Your Own’s brilliant new campaign”, say “Grow Your Own’s new campaign”.
You can use the quotes section to share opinions from others e.g., “What is so excellent about what [name of your organisation] does is…”
When talking to local media, be as local as possible! For example, continue to refer throughout the release to your local area and the fact you want to work with and for the community. Try and secure external support in the form of a quote from someone with influence or relevance, for example your local parliamentarian or a local community leader. Quotes from ‘real people’ who have been affected by your cause (‘case studies’) are also impactful.
At the end of your release, after Notes to Editors (see below), you should also add what’s called a ‘boilerplate’. This is just a paragraph that explains broadly what you do and provides more information.
After sending the release to the journalist, follow-up with a call later that day or the following morning to see if they received it. Ask if there’s any further information you can give them to help with getting them to write about your cause or event.
Writing to your local MP / MSP / MLA / MS
Securing support from your local MP, MSP, MLA or MS helps add weight to your campaign in terms of how residents view you and your work and can also help drive longer-lasting infrastructure and policy-change.
Before writing to your MP, MSP, MLA or MS, you should do a bit of research to see how they’ve voted on climate issues. You can do this via the website Theyworkforyou.com.
It’s also worth looking at if, when and how your local MP, MSP, MLA or MS has spoken to the media about relevant or related issues. You can find this out with a quick search online.
Additionally, you can use the search function on Twitter to see if, when and how they’ve posted on climate issues. To do this, visit twitter.com/search-advanced and follow the information boxes.
When you write to your MP, MSP, MLA or MS, start by mentioning you know they’ve voted or spoken on relevant issues, especially if this was in a positive light. If it wasn’t, then be careful about how you include or word this in your letter.
Email to potential supporting partners
As part of your project or campaign, you might want to approach local businesses to help you either financially or with other kinds of useful resources. For example, free access to event space with complimentary food and drinks.
If reaching out to a larger corporate business, e.g., a bank or legal firm, be sure to talk about how much their support will benefit the local community. You should also make clear that you’d be happy to be part of their own communications to announce their involvement in your work. This kind of support is often classed by businesses as ‘corporate social responsibility’, and many corporates have an annual budget set aside for this.
Alternatively, if you’re reaching out to a smaller or independent business, you should outline the business benefits for them from taking part. For example, a local bar might be willing to offer you a space and some free welcome drinks, if you can guarantee that plenty of people will turn up and spend money at the bar later that night or in future because of your event.
What’s important is building and sustaining relationships with your partners so you’re able to ask for more help later if you need it. Keep this in mind when negotiating with them and be sure after the event to thank them appropriately.
If you don’t know who to write to, then before reaching out, you might want to drop in on or call the business and find out the most relevant person to send your email to.
Pitching to local media
When pitching to local media, it sounds obvious but remember to make sure that what you’re saying relates back to the local community.
Be succinct but provide as much information as you can, in a similar way to your opening paragraph for your press release. The difference here is you’re reaching out directly to an outlet to try and engage them to work with you on a piece of coverage. You might also want to attach your press release to the email if it adds more context.
Think about the specific outlet and what would work best for them. Do they often cover stories like yours and if so, how can you make yours different? If it’s a topic you’ve not seen them cover before, how can you communicate its importance?
Another tip is to open your pitch email by referencing a relevant piece the journalist has run recently. This shows you’ve done your research and are interested in the journalist and the outlet they write for.
Finally, try and ensure you have the best contact to reach out to. Just because a reporter works at the outlet that you’re trying to secure coverage in, doesn’t mean their normal topics (or ‘beats’) are relevant to climate action. Some teams will be so small that their reporters will cover a range of topics. Bigger outlets will have specific journalists covering environmental issues and climate.
How we write copy for social media depends very much on the platform. Below we’ve shared tips and examples for each of the key platforms.
Remember – walk before you run, and don’t try and take on more channels than necessary!
Useful links to support your work
Below are some useful links to resources and articles to support you in the communications around your project.
Resources marked with an asterix (*) are also mentioned in the toolkit
- Getting your messages right: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/getting-your-messages-right/
- How to create email newsletters*:
- 13 free digital tools for charity: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/13-free-digital-tools-for-charities-2/
- 15 digital resources for community groups: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/15-digital-resources-for-community-groups/
- Get started with Analytics: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1008015?hl=en
- The power of digital to transform charity communications: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/the-power-of-digital-to-transform-charity-communications/
- Climate Reframe List – Amplifying BAME voices in the climate movement: https://climatereframe.co.uk/ClimateReframe_Download_130720-LR.pdf
- Climate Story Labs https://climatestorylabs.org/
- Stories for Life: https://stories.life/
- What is GDPR?* https://gdpr.eu/what-is-gdpr/?cn-reloaded=1
- Free image library from Climate Visuals: https://climatevisuals.org/
- Where to find free diverse and inclusive stock images for your charity: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/where-to-find-free-diverse-and-inclusive-stock-images-for-your-charity/
- A guide to measuring impact: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/a-guide-to-measuring-impact/
Pitching to media
- A charity guide for getting your story into the media: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/stronger-voices-guide-get-your-story-media/
- How to get into local and regional media: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/how-to-get-into-local-and-regional-media/
- Writing a press release and how to pitch it: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/writing-a-press-release-and-how-to-pitch-it/
Preparing for interviews
- A charity guide to media interviews: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/stronger-voices-guide-media-interviews-2/
Resources from National Lottery
- Get in touch with your local press*: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/managing-your-grant/promoting-your-project/your-local-press#item-2
- How to use National Lottery logos and branding*: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/managing-your-grant/promoting-your-project/download-our-logo
- Managing your project bilingually*: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/media/BLF18_055_Managing-your-project-bilingually-2019.pdf?mtime=20200123120845
- Order free materials*: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/managing-your-grant/promoting-your-project/order-free-materials
- Tell the world about your grant via social media*: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/managing-your-grant/promoting-your-project/social-media
- A charity guide to social media: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/stronger-voices-guide-social-media/
- Eight golden rules of Instagram for charities: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/eight-rules-of-instagram/
- Four ways to boost your social media content: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/four-ways-to-boost-your-social-media-content/
- How to build your community on Instagram: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/how-to-build-your-community-on-instagram/
- Social media content writing tips: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/7-social-media-content-writing-tips/555805/
- Twitter content strategy playbook: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/twitter-content-strategy-playbook-2/
Talking about climate
- How to effectively communicate climate change*: https://empower.agency/how-to-effectively-communicate-about-climate-change/
- Rethinking climate change communications for charities: https://mediatrust.org/resource-hub/re-thinking-climate-change-communications-for-charities/
- Six ways to change hearts and minds about climate change*: https://www.onroadmedia.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Six-ways-to-change-hearts-and-minds-about-climate-change.pdf?_ga=2.214563857.703790631.1629795068-1761611556.1629795068
Working with case studies
- 7 ways to tell stories ethically*: https://communitycentricfundraising.org/2021/01/06/7-ways-to-tell-stories-ethically-the-journey-from-exploited-program-participant-to-empowered-storyteller/
- How to use video to help the climate movement at COP26: https://training.videorev.org/cop26