Massachusetts Public Library Trustees Handbook
The local media (newspapers, TV, cable, and radio) are a vital factor in all public relations efforts. In fact, the local media can, and should be, one of the library's best friends. Therefore, the library board should be familiar with all media resources in the community, and should learn how best to utilize these resources.
While each board should have a designated spokesperson, library trustees should make it a point to know personally the editors, publishers, TV and radio station managers, editorial writers, plus the staff personnel who are assigned "the library board beat." As determined by library board planning, there should be regular "keeping in touch" efforts. Media contacts should be invited and encouraged to attend library board meetings and kept informed of meeting date schedules, agenda items, special meetings, and any other special events. Key media contacts should be on mailing lists for such items as reports and announcements. Library board members should also keep in mind the value of using the letters to the editor column. This is a means of directly reaching a large audience.
Generally, the library director is the information source concerning library activities. The trustees, director, and staff should clearly understand and observe their respective roles in communicating with the media.
Tips for working with the media :
Schedule visits to media representatives in the community.
Ask the media representative what they can use; in what form they wish to receive it; how often they can give coverage.
Ask representatives for any ideas they have for giving publicity to the library. Let them think of interviews, public service announcements, or even regular shows for local radio and TV stations.
Compile a helpful information kit to give each media representative. For example: a summary of the library's goals, objectives, and priorities; current services; flyers or brochures; a listing of special upcoming events; and even a review or two of some new books that might be of personal interest.
Absorb, but do not promise. Ideas, comments, or even complaints should be taken back to the board and the library director for discussion, and as tools in planning future public relations programs.