How to share your story with the media Sharing your story with the media is a powerful way to get your message out there and raise awareness of alopecia. Local papers, TV and radio are always on the lookout for stories in the community, with a focus on real people with strong stories. You’ll need a newsworthy story – something that is topical, timely, relevant and unique. Perhaps you’d like some coverage for some fundraising you are doing, or perhaps you want to share your alopecia story during Alopecia Awareness Month, or it might be that you wish to share your experience of difficulties with accessing treatments or wigs. MPs often read local papers, so this means your story could been seen by people who can help get alopecia on the agenda. Talking about alopecia with the media means putting yourself out there. Our tips below will help you find the words to pitch your story. Decide on the media outlet Research local media outlets in your area. Spend some time flicking through the paper, visiting online websites and listening to the radio. This will help you see what stories get covered and which journalists are telling the stories. You will also get a flavour of the organisations tone and whether you believe they will treat your story sensitively. Think about different types of media: local newspapers, websites, radio, and TV stations. Remember that TV will require strong visuals and often an activity that can be filmed. Do you work for an organisation that has a communications team? They may be able to help with tips and pitch your story. Getting in touch The contact details for most media outlet should be readily available on their website. Remember local media often have small teams who write a wide range of stories. Larger national media outlets might have Health Editors who will likely be interested in stories about challenges relating to medical conditions. Features Editors will likely be interested in personal experience/alopecia stories. Email the media outlet with your story. If sharing details of a fundraising event, make sure you include details of who, what, where, when, why and how. If you are wanting to tackle an issue you are facing, explain why it is important that you share your story and the impact this issue is having in your life. If your story is about a fundraising event, send your story in with plenty of time ahead of your event to get in ahead of the deadline. Make sure your email subject line is clear to grab attention and give a snapshot of what the story is about. Media outlets will receive lots of emails. You will want yours to stand out. Be sure to attach any photos to the email that help tell the story, and include links to any online fundraising page. Try not to be disheartened if you do not receive a reply. Journalists are busy people juggling lots of stories. Follow up with another email or look for a phone number to give them a ring. Call and explain that you’d like to share your story. Be concise and to the point to draw their attention to the interesting part. Photos Your story is more likely to be featured if you include any relevant photos. If you are fundraising, consider sending a photo of you in an Alopecia UK t-shirt. It’s good to send a variety of images that illustrate your story. Include both landscape and portrait images as this allows flexibility with layout. Bear in mind that any image for publication need to be high resolution, so 1MB or more. Sometimes, a media outlet will send a photographer to take their own photos. Signpost to Alopecia UK Ask the media outlet to mention Alopecia UK in any published piece. If Alopecia UK has helped you, include details of this in your story. This can help others to find similar support. Here is a simple signposting message that you can provide journalists to use at the end of any media piece: “Alopecia UK is a charity working to improve the lives of alopecia through aims of Support, Awareness and Research. If you are looking for information, advice or support, please visit: www.alopecia.org.uk” Preparing for a TV/Radio interview Ask the journalist if the interview will be live or pre-recorded. If possible, find out what questions might be asked so you can prepare. This can help you prepare answers to any potentially difficult questions. However, try not to over-rehearse your answers. Use your own words and not write down a lengthy or densely-worded sentence that wouldn’t sound like you if read aloud. Imagine you are telling a family member or friend about what you’re doing and why it’s important. Think about what inspired you to get involved, and share that with the interviewer – you may inspire others! It’s ok to not know the answers to everything. You can be clear that you are not a medical expert and are speaking from your own experience. Remember, you can always direct people to the Alopecia UK website to find in-depth information about the conditions and our work.