I've been contacted by Noel Webb who is planning to paddle around the entire UK mainland in 2007, wondering if I could write about him for TGO magazine and general seeking some publcity advice.
In bashing out the reply I sounded terse and grumpy (Noel later compared me to Gordon Ramsey!) which I now regret because Noel is undertaking a hell of a trip, well beyond my ability, and raising money for a charity I know well the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
I gave him contact names and numbers, but in my estimation, TGO Magazine won't be interested. They're a hiking mag, have only run two kayak articles in my memory, and hear about charity walks and events all the time. But there are many other things, most of which Noel had clearly already considered. I've taken out some of the sepcific points I made about his trip, but here are my thoughts on publicising an expedition.
I stress - this is from the point of view of someone who works in the media and paddles, not someone who is experienced at getting publicity for exepdtions!
Think narrow-casting, not broad. Your two likely areas of interest are kayakers and local people who think you're passing through their area. Target the places in which they consume their media.
Approach Canoeist, Paddles, Canoe & Kayak UK, Scottish Paddler, Canoe Focus etc. They're more likely to run something. Remember, even a short piece is worth it if it mentions your website. I'll come back to the importance of your website.
Local radio stations are voracious beasts to feed. If you pass through their areas, get the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the mid-morning or mid-afternoon shows and ring them up before you go, then again while you're in their area. Offer them a phone call "live" with someone paddling past their coastline. Some will bite. Have a mental "script" for each which always includes an on air mention of your website.
Consider approaching weekly newspapers along your route. Send them a good dramatic photo in advance, so they can run something along the lines of "look out for the paddler passing through next Tuesday". Make sure your website is written BIG down the side of your boat so the photo is an advert for the site. Ring them to find their print day, then make sure your photo and press release arrive well in advance. Check if it can be done by e-mail and the correct address, as some "generic" e-mail addresses can go unchecked for weeks!
Your website is the place people who are interested in you (and your sponsors) will find you and your sponsors. Make sure the sponsors are happy with their placing on your website and that links work. Once your trip is announcesd, consider blogging get people interested in what you'll be doing, how you're raising your profile, getting organised. If raising cash for charity, you might ask regular readers to donate in return for a good read. There should be an RSS feed on the site (definitely on the blog) so a reader like Bloglines will automatically catch updates. Some blog systems allow you to e-mail in your blogs or even telephone in a Podcast which automatically goes live onto your site.
If you have more or better tips for getting publicity for your expedition I'd love to know. Please add to the comments below.