The role of media in shaping public opinion is indisputable, and there are more channels for expression than ever. In a world filled with opinions, you may wonder why you should bother to share your own. When it comes to advocacy, the reason is simple: your one vote is invaluable, and your elected leaders are competing to get it and keep it.
As highly-regarded voices in your communities, librarians can speak with credibility in local media – which is where it counts the most if your goal is to draw the attention of your elected representatives. ALA's resources for library advocacy in the media are meant to leverage the power of your unique voice. Here are a few places you can start:
Writing letters to the editorWriting a letter to the editor – especially at your local news outlet – is one of the most effective ways to draw the attention of your elected leaders. Congressional staff monitor daily media hits for their offices. Every time a member of Congress is mentioned in the news, voters' perceptions are influenced. Keep in mind that every letter to the editor makes an impact, even if it’s not published. The more feedback a news outlet receives about libraries, the clearer they understand that libraries are relevant and newsworthy to their readers. This one-pager provides tips on how to get a letter printed in major metropolitan newspapers or online news sites with large readerships.
Sharing your story with journalistsYou have the power to build relationships with reporters and editors in your local media. News outlets base their coverage on the priorities of their readers. Whether print, broadcast or electronic, local media is a key venue for public discourse on issues that impact communities. Reporters value and rely on local input decisions about what news to cover. As libraries provide services and are convening spaces for everyone, the voice of a library professional represents a range of community members. You can be an invaluable source of insight and information for local news providers. This one-pager has tips for using your library power to be part of the ongoing conversation about issues that matter to your patrons. These suggestions are geared toward local print or online media.
Going all out to engage local mediaThe tactics in ALA's Media Relations Handbook for Libraries can be selected alone or in concert to help you develop a plan of action for your campaign that will help you meet your goals, audience, and timeline within the limits of your financial, staff, and volunteer resources. We have included communications tactics that may also be useful in developing your advocacy work as you work to effectively reach and generate support for your library.