Tips for Sharing Your News with the Public
Your grant is an achievement that you should share with your community. Here are some ideas for basic publicity that can help extend the news of your award, build goodwill with your key stakeholders, and educate the public about your value to the community.
Interacting with News Media
Develop a distribution list in advance. To reach the broadest audience, your list should include local newspapers, radio stations, television stations, and wire services, such as the Associated Press. Are there reporters who regularly cover your activities? Address the release to the features editor or education editor at the newspaper and to the assignment editor at television or radio stations. Your distribution list could include online media and blogs, local newspapers, radio stations, television stations, and news and wire services.
Prepare a News Release. The basic way of communicating with news media about your IMLS grant is with a news release. An effective release provides the “who, what, when, and where” of your news announcement and contact information for someone at your museum or library who can provide additional information.
One strategy for getting attention for your release is to tie your announcement to a relevant event or to a current news issue. Is your institution planning a community day, a major announcement, or an anniversary commemoration? Is there an upcoming community-wide arts or humanities week? If you can link your announcement with other activities or events, you increase the chances of capturing media attention. Similarly, you can package your story in the context of other local or national issues by including a quote that ties your grant award to the larger issue.
Issue your release. Email the release to your distribution list, sending to one person at each outlet at a time. Do not copy others on your email, and be sure to include a personal note above the release that shows the recipient you know they cover this type of news. Remember timing. There are a variety of factors that determine whether your story will receive coverage. If there is an urgent news event, hold your release for a quieter news day. The time of day and day of the week are also factors to consider. Remember that morning is often the best time for television, and avoid releasing news on a Friday afternoon or over the weekend. Likewise, Monday mornings can be crowded with big news that was not covered over the weekend. Some papers and TV stations require a few weeks’ notice to prep the piece for publication or air time, so give them as much advance notice as possible, if there is a date-specific event you are tying it to.
Pitch the story. Follow up your release by emailing key media contacts to confirm their receipt and to pitch your story. Present the facts quickly and emphasize why this would interest readers or viewers. If there is interest and relevance, you might offer to set up an interview with the director or a behind-the-scenes tour of your facility. The most important part of an email pitch is the subject line. It is being reviewed along with hundreds of others in the course of a day, so yours must stand out. Think in terms of why someone in your community would care about this news – what’s it to them? If you are offering VIPs and dignitaries for interviews, have their contact info ready to go and make sure they have the heads up and are willing to take the interview.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, You Tube, and Instagram, are powerful tools for sharing news of your institution with a potentially large number of people and engaging them in an interactive way. Using social media can be economical; the sites require only an email address to establish your presence. To maintain them, however, requires an investment of time because visitors expect content that is timely and new.
If you already have social media presence on at least one platform, use it (or all the ones you have) to amplify your news to a broader audience. IMLS will be sharing your award on our social media platforms – and you should comment on and share our posts, as well as create your own native content and share it yourself. Be sure to let key groups in your community know about the news so they will like and share it to their followers too! Pictures are worth 1,000 words, so use pictures as much as possible, and since video is so easy to generate now with just a smart phone, consider doing a quick, one-minute video to announce the grant and thank everyone involved or talk about how it will be applied.
Great news! [your institution’s name that received a grant] just received an @US_IMLS grant! [insert link to the IMLS press release listing your grant award] #IMLSGrant
[Your institution’s name that received a grant] is excited to announce that we received a grant from @US_IMLS! [insert link to the IMLS press release listing your grant award] #IMLSGrant
Facebook fans, I am excited to announce that [your institution’s name] received a grant from @USIMLS! We are looking forward to [briefly explain what your grant will be used for]. [Insert link to the IMLS press release listing your grant award] #IMLSGrant
We have great news! [Institution that received the grant] just found out that we received a grant from @USIMLS to [explain what your grant will be used for]. Read more: [Insert link to the IMLS press release listing your grant award] #IMLSGrant
[Institution that received the grant] just received a grant from the @US_IMLS! #IMLSGrant
So excited to announce that [your organization's name or I] was awarded a grant from @US_IMLS! #IMLSGrant
In addition to using traditional media and social media, your stakeholders – the many groups on whom your success depends – can help get the word out. The more you can share your grant with different audiences, the more that people understand the role and the importance of libraries.
Every grantee will have different groups and organizations that are stakeholders in their grant. Before you even applied for this grant, you probably already thought about groups in your community that would benefit from your grant or be interested in it. Here is a sample list of contacts to consider:
- local schools
- city council
- nearby library systems
- after school programs
- the tourism board
- convention center
- chamber of commerce
- professional society newsletters
- community calendar listings
IMLS Director Quote
"As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services, and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities."