Task P Two: Planning Public Relations

The importance of public relations cannot be overemphasized. A public relations program is more than just publicity. It involves choosing one or two important messages and then designing a systematic program to carry the message(s) to the public. The way that the message is conveyed is vital. Brochures, newspaper articles, etc. are essential, but it is also important to make many personal contacts.

Library board members must participate in the public relations work for the new district. Board members must show their support for the new district by speaking out to individuals and to groups.

Repetition of the message is vital. Everyone speaking for the districting effort needs to say the same thing. Use the same slogan and graphics repeatedly in brochures and other media, so that the message becomes identifiable in the public mind.

Make the message a part of well attended community events that relate to community pride. Plan to make the districting effort visible at such activities as county fairs, parades, and other special community events.

Endorsements by both groups and individuals are vital. Groups that work with children, such as 4-H, Girl and Boy Scouts, are likely to endorse efforts to improve library services. Other groups like PTO's, school boards, etc. that emphasize community involvement and education are likely to be supportive. Seek out prominent community leaders for endorsements. Use the list of supportive contacts and groups that you developed in the assessment phase. Some groups may be willing to either pay for advertisements announcing their endorsements, or to write a letter to the editor announcing their support. Develop a schedule for seeking and releasing news of endorsements throughout the districting project.

Assure that public relations are carried out in a systematic and effective way by developing and implementing a public relations plan. Ideally, a public relations professional should do the plan.

Include the following items in the public relations plan:

Message(s) that will be emphasized in the public relations campaign

Slogan(s) that will carry the message

Graphics that will carry the message

Brochures that will carry the message

Calendar of events and activities that will carry the message

Lists of local media outlets, including contact persons that will be informed of districting activities.

Community organizations that will be contacted

Methods for soliciting and publicizing endorsements for creating a library district

Training program for spokespersons (particularly board members) to speak for the districting project

[Refer to Planning Phase Form B: Public Relations Plan at the end of this section.]