The volunteers at Scunthorpe Samaritans give up their time for people in need in North Lincolnshire. Throughout the day and night, they answer calls and messages from people in distress.
They also have three key goals: to raise funds, attract volunteers, and reach out to those who are struggling to cope. To achieve this, they need to raise awareness of their work. And media coverage is key in delivering this message. But the charity was finding it difficult to achieve the publicity it needed.
These dedicated volunteers juggle their duties with their busy working lives. They weren’t managing to produce a steady stream of press releases. And they had a limited network of media contacts. In 2017 they asked Freelance Writer Joanna Woodhouse for her help. She began writing their press releases and managing their media relations.
With a background in journalism Joanna has an insight into how to secure publicity. She researched, wrote, pitched and distributed the press releases. And handled any enquiries from journalists.
She has helped Scunthorpe Samaritans gain coverage in newspapers, magazines, television, and radio. Both at a local and national level.
Working with Joanna
When Joanna started working with Scunthorpe Samaritans Rachel Johnson was the director. She said: “In May 2016 I was appointed by my fellow volunteers to serve a three-year term as the Director of Scunthorpe Samaritans. One of my priorities was to raise awareness of the Samaritans in the local area, to promote our ‘Talk to Us, message, recruit more volunteers and attract more funds.
“During 2017 we realised we needed to increase our publicity efforts. It was suggested we bring on board a professional to help with the drafting of press releases and managing the media. This was where our relationship with Joanna commenced. She came highly recommended and was supportive of our cause.
“We have been thrilled to have the support of Joanna in helping us to get our messages out there. As a voluntary sector organisation, we compete for volunteers and funds. And it is important we have a constant flow of press releases.
“Joanna has a knack with words and perfectly pitches our press releases. Most press releases written by Joanna have resulted in media coverage.”
The opening of the Chad Varah Memorial Garden in Barton Upon Humber was a major event for Scunthorpe Samaritans. The branch wanted to attract publicity for the event — to let the public know about the garden and invite them along for the opening event. Joanna wrote a press release and handled media enquiries.
Rachel said: “The opening was a celebration of our history and the creation of a lasting legacy to the Samaritan founder Chad Varah, in his birthplace. We were keen to raise awareness of this fact and to keep Chad’s memory alive and increase knowledge of Samaritans.
“As a result of Joanna’s press release, we were successful in getting extensive media coverage in the local Scunthorpe Telegraph, BBC Radio Humberside, and ITV Calendar. Both before and after the opening. We had a good turnout on the day, and in the days, weeks and months after the opening. “Joanna’s work in drafting the original press release and her subsequent handling of the media requests for interview were invaluable to our branch. This ensured a co-ordinated approach was achieved with excellent professional coverage.
Rachel said: “The impact of Joanna’s support has extended far beyond anything we had originally envisaged. We cannot thank Joanna enough. As a result, we have no hesitation in recommending her for any projects you may have that you are keen to promote to a wider audience.”