Public Relations

More encompassing than publicity, public relations (PR) implies two-way communication - not only do you tell the public what your library is about, you gather information as well.

A PR campaign involves four basic steps: research, planning, communications and evaluation. First, in the research phase, the director assesses attitudes of various target groups toward the library. Next is the development of a written plan that includes a clear description of who the library wants to reach with the campaign, a timetable, short- and long-range goals of the campaign, staffing requirements, a budget and how success will be measured.

After the plan is completed, the director starts communicating the message to the identified target groups. Communication tools might include press releases, newspaper articles and photographs; radio and television public service announcements (PSAs); community group newsletters; displays, exhibits, and special events; billboard space (donated); printed materials such as bookmarks, booklists, flyers, brochures and posters; and personal contacts. (See press releasesand State Library online tools.)

At scheduled points during the PR campaign and at the end of the campaign, the process is evaluated using the measurement factors identified during planning.

Policies and procedures for PR programs vary, depending on the size of the library, its financial resources, the number of staff and other local circumstances. The role of the trustees in these programs, however, is consistent: be prepared to speak to the issues and participate in events.