A few people have sent emails re: the whole publicity thing for these walks. Here's a quick primer and apologies for this being too basic for some, but these are frequent points of confusion. For those of you who have more experience in this area and are willing to help out your fellow members, perhaps you can post your contact info so you can help reach out to local media.
Newspaper or print advertising is paid for. Ads are either display ads or classified ads, the latter being pretty self-evident (selling something, buying something). Display ads are usually standard sizes, though there may be some slight differences between publications. They are usually measured as one column or two columns wide by a certain number of inches high. So a 2x7 is two columns by 7 inches high. The important thing is to find out what the publication's standard ad sizes are and adhere to those for maximum benefit. Now, of course, we don't want to pay for these display ads so making a request to run our ads for FREE would be a good thing to do. We are a non-profit organization, obviously, and many publications do allocate a certain amount of space for free NPO ads. To be consistent across the country, the PF will provide a standard ad (in a couple different sizes) with space to drop in your local information. Your local newspaper can add the "local" info themselves so it is graphically pleasing.
When to Advertise
If you are trying to get walkers, I'd suggest you try to run the free display ads for at least two weeks prior to the April 1st deadline that Jaime has requested. If you want to advertise the event itself, then a couple weeks prior to the May 7 date would be good. You need to find out what the publications' ad space reservation deadlines are. Usually you have to reserve earlier than when the actual ad is due.
Using a press release is an attempt to get the publication to write a story or to include the press release information in a calendar of events or other news/feature section of the paper. It is NOT advertising in the actual sense of the word. A press release is written in journalistic language. It is not written with flowery, marketing or advertising lingo. It is objective, fact-based and to the point. I believe Jaime said that she would provide a template for local coordinators to customize. You should email or fax your press release to any reporters, section editors or others in the media (including your local TV and radio stations) who would be likely targets for this event. It is much better to send out fewer press releases to the RIGHT targets than to send it to EVERYBODY listed in your local paper's staff box. And don't forget the free family/parenting magazines that almost every city has. Also, local hospitals may be good outlets for getting the word out.
You should include a flyers with your press release and especially target the businesses and worthwhile targets in the vicinity of your walk. Again, the PF is designing a flyer and will leave a hole for dropping in your local info. I'm pretty sure we'll design these in a way that they can just be photocopied at a quick print shop.
Feel free to ask more questions and I don't have to be the only one answering PR 101 or Advertising 101 questions -- I know we have some other experienced professionals out there [;)]