Get media coverage
Make the most of the opportunity this Libraries Week to engage with the media and get the message out about your library and the activities you are running. Media coverage is an important way of reaching your community and raising awareness in the lead-up to and after events.
What’s the story?
Think about the story you are trying to tell and how to pique the interest of the media. Your local, community or special interest media are a key channel for getting news out and are keen to cover local, topical and colourful news – especially when it’s about people and places in the community, special events, or involving important figures.
Generally, local press love to cover positive stories featuring local children, families, places, big names, community events and anything interesting, fun or unusual that is taking place.
Who are your target media and how can you reach them?
Search online, print and broadcast media outlets to find out who the relevant journalists or influencers are and what interests or areas of specialism they have – many local news teams have named journalists covering specific regions of a county, local current affairs or particular topics.
Their names and contact details are generally published meaning that you can tell them about your upcoming plans, news or events. Contact numbers can usually be found within the papers or online (visit https://media.info/ or BT.com if individual titles don’t have their own websites).
With local press, there are often generic email addresses provided for their news or picture desks that you could send a press release or a great photo to as well as sending directly to named staff where possible.
When and how to contact the press
You have two main opportunities to reach out and tell the media and your community about your events: before and after your event. Press releases supply the media with all the information they need to run a story about what you’re doing without having to gather the information themselves.
If you have your plans with details of who will be present, what will be taking place, key background information and ideally photos of the key people or activity, it’s a good idea to issue a press release a couple of weeks prior to the event.
Another thing you can do around a week before your event is to invite your target journalists to come and see for themselves by sharing the time and venue through a diary note or photo call.
It’s very common to send a press release immediately after an event, because you should have the full story with interesting details, who attended, facts, quotes and hopefully interesting pictures or video to be sent alongside your text. This should be drafted and sent ASAP after the event, i.e. on the same day or the next day.
When to send out a press release
Whether you release details to your target media before or after really depends on what you’ve got planned and how much time and effort you can invest – if you have a strong event with lots of interest points, it’s worth covering all angles. If you don’t have enough information beforehand, it’s better to send out a good release with all the key points immediately after.
You can also follow up by phone with your target media. The idea is to make sure they have received and seen your press release and to pitch your story to the journalist or influencer. Here you’re highlighting the key points about your story and why your target media should be interested.
Remember to capture photos of your events!
Wherever possible, press releases and media approaches are best accompanied by eye-catching photography that really helps bring the story to life for the readers of your target media outlets. Your story is much more likely to be picked up if it’s accompanied by interesting, decent quality pictures that will display clearly on their news websites or in print.
To be high enough quality for print use, pictures would need be shot on a good camera or taken by a professional. However for web use (e.g. online news), high resolution photos taken via mobile phone may be fine, as long as they are clear, well lit and not blurry.
Good shots are worth getting but if you don’t have the equipment or skills, invite someone in from your community who can take photos for you and ask them to send you the top two or three best shots straight after so that you can include with your press release. Photos are an investment in your service because you can always use good visual material in flyers, on social media and across your marketing and storytelling.
As you’ll know, with filming or photography involving children, permission has to be obtained from a parent or guardian before it can be used. It’s also good to inform members of the public so that they can give their consent or let you know if they would prefer not to be featured. Download our template photography release form.
When sending pictures, don’t forget to include a caption which provides details of your event or activity and the location and names the people in the picture.