You Know Your Story, Now Get it Out There
How much awareness the campaign generates in your community is up to you.
Public relations is simply your efforts to get news, educational information and updates about the campaign and public library funding out to the intended audience. This means pitching story concepts or news to the local media, but it also includes finding other avenues to communicate directly to your target audience. Remember, publicity doesn’t have to cost money.
Library communications, such as newsletters, Web site and social networking sites, should be your primary PR vehicle to get news out. Keep your community informed with regular updates. These communications aid the viral spread of campaign news and information—a critical element of making a lasting impact in the community.
Make sure your launch press release answers who, what, when, where and why. Send the press release to all local media with a personal note. If possible, send goody bags with additional information and materials, and call to make sure they were received and to answer any questions. Be sure to research the most important media contact at each media outlet.
After the initial release, update your media contacts regarding any newsworthy items such as events, partnerships or interesting activities. Provide only the most important details and keep your updates short and to the point. Personally invite your contacts when appropriate.
Brainstorm story ideas or concepts that relate to the campaign and public library funding. Having a local angle is key. Find local statistics and gather library data that helps provide context. Also, find local sources that can provide perspective, such as someone who used the library to find a job. Send these pitches—or story ideas—to your media contact only when you have a well-thought-out concept with supplementary information and sources. Make it as easy for the reporter as possible.
Build on the media relationships you have, but also use the campaign to create new contacts.
Utilize your community partners, such as local businesses, schools and arts organizations, to talk about the campaign. Look for opportunities to include the campaign that benefit the library and the partner. Personalize the message to individual partners, so they see the connection. This can be as simple as making half-time announcements—with a mention of the campaign and throwing out some t-shirts—at a local baseball game, to writing an article for an internal newsletter for a local company. (When partnering with schools, be sure to get the campaign message to parents. Ask to take part in evening events attended by parents and be sure to gain permission to include something specifically geared toward parents and guardians in student take-home folders.)
Library supporters and community leaders
Invite supporters and community leaders to learn more about the campaign at an informal presentation. (Give them an incentive to attend in person such as breakfast or networking opportunities.) Send a personal note, when possible, or goody bags and educational information. The goal is to make sure they are aware, understand and support your efforts, so that they can help inform others and start further funding conversations. If you are unable to hold an event, volunteer a member of your team to present outside of the library at a regularly scheduled event.