We only get one chance to have our dying wishes met, which is why it’s so vital to talk, plan and make arrangements for the end of life – before it’s too late. That’s why the theme of the fifth annual Dying Matters Awareness Week is ‘Dying Matters: You only die once’.
The week will take place from 12 to18 May 2014 and, as ever, Dying Matters is supporting the week with a full range of resources, including new information materials, advice on organising your own events, resources to help you engage with local media, and much more.
A Dying Matters Awareness Week event can be large, small or anywhere in-between. To give you inspiration, here’s a small selection of actual events from last year:
- Coffee morning at the library in aid of the local hospice, with Dying Matters resources on display.
- Hospital display featuring a tree of life graphic on which members of the public were encouraged to post notes about improving services relating to death and dying.
- A funeral directors’ open day.
- A Death Cafe.
- An afternoon of activities, including the screening of Dying Matters films and talks from local bereavement associations and funeral directors.
You may have a specific theme in mind relating to your area of work or interest. The overall theme of the week this year is ‘You only die once’ – an action-focused phrase emphasising that we only get once chance to have our dying wishes met. During the week, Dying Matters will be encouraging members of the public to take five simple steps to make their end of life experience better, both for them and for their loved ones. These are:
- Write your will
- Record your funeral wishes
- Plan your future care and support
- Consider registering as an organ donor
- Tell your loved ones your wishes.
This year’s Awareness Week resources are brighter and more eye-catching than ever. Hand them out, add them to delegate packs, use them to create an eye-catching display. Resources can be download and ordered from the Dying Matters website.
If you’re seeking local support, advice or help with your event, or you want to publicise it locally, you can create a post on one of the regional discussion forums.
Write a press release
One of potentially the most effective ways of securing media coverage is to send out a press release. Keep it short and punchy – never more than two sides of A4 – ideally a lot less. There is a template press release, which can be downloaded from the Dying Matters website.
Top tips for writing a press release:
- Ensure you cover the Five W’s: Who, What, Where, Why, When.
- Make it clear whether the event is open to the general public.
- Include key contact details.
- If possible, set up an interesting photo opportunity – and make sure you mention it in the press release. However, don’t rely on a newspaper sending a photographer to the event – have someone take high quality photos and send them to the papers afterwards.
- It’s generally best to contact journalists by email in the first instance. Your press release should be pasted into the body of the email, not sent as an attachment – you don’t want to place any barriers in the way of it being read. Make sure your email subject line is strong so that it grabs journalists’ attention.
- Do follow-up your press release with a phone call to check receipt and to further sell your story.
Other ways you can get involved
There are many other ways you can promote and support Dying Matters Awareness Week. Here are just a few of them:
- Feature a news story on your organisation’s website.
- Promote it in your staff newsletter.
- Tweet about it using the hashtag #YODO.
- Post a Facebook status.
- Become a Dying Matters member if you’re not already – and encourage friends and family to join as well.
- Receive regular updates from Dying Matters by signing up for the newsletter.
- Attend an Awareness Week event.