The Small but Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library
Make the most of media in all of its forms
Newspapers, radio and TV outlets may be few and far between where you live. If so, you will need to look for other opportunities such as newsletters (print and electronic) published by schools, local governments, religious and community groups.
If you do have local media, don’t hesitate to approach them. Many newspapers with small staffs welcome news items and columns that you write. Local talk shows may be looking for topics of interest to discuss. Remember that even very small publications/stations take their role seriously. Whatever you can do to make their job easier will make your job easier.
- Start by asking them questions. What kinds of stories are they looking for? When is their deadline? Do they prefer hard copy or email?
- Expect to be asked hard questions—especially if money is involved. Be prepared to answer and don’t take it personally.
- Be prepared to give “sound bites” or “quotable quotes” that make your point along with examples and statistics.
- Learn how to write a good, basic news release starting with the most important information and ending with the least. Use simple sentences and keep it brief.
- Take advantage of letters to the editor and guest columns to make your case.
- Feel free to suggest feature stories about various services, perhaps on a quarterly basis. You may even be asked to write them.
- Send public service announcements to your local radio station. These brief announcements (about 70 words) are aired free of charge for nonprofit organizations.
- Provide ideas for local columnists (“Did you know you can get audio books—for free—at the library?”) or consider writing your own column.
- Remember to thank them—especially for coverage that is above and beyond.