Generating Publicity: A Step-by-Step Guide

Broadband express at your library banner

The following persons should be invited to Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary media events:

Useful tips on publicity and promotion include planning, promotion, and follow-up.

Target the Users:

A well-planned, well-managed publicity program can help sustain your Public Computer Center (PCC) outreach plan.

  • Identify target populations
  • Identify programs, dates and media markets for each group’s potential users
  • Identify the media channels that are available to your library

 Choose a Publicity Manager

  • Choose a good spokesperson who can deliver a concise message, with knowledge of the community, the event(s) and the organization’s mission.

Monitor Events

  • Monitor media coverage before, during and after the event
  • Maintain active communication plan
  • Circulate press releases, briefing notes and copies of all media coverage
  • Keep a record of contacts
  • Follow up with attendees and media supporters, send thank-you notes, photos, etc.
  • Evaluate the event’s success

Research the target audience

  • Learn how to penetrate a market niche: i.e., job seekers:

Strategies: Provide signage and information at Job Centers and other community outreach locations: Unemployment Office, Town Hall, Health Centers, Community Centers, Senior Centers, Teen Centers, Test Centers, etc.

  • Work with a group leader or focus group to identify a market segment’s information needs/interests and how they prefer to access information.

Market the event for each target group — Adjust the message for the audience

  • Focus: Make your event information relevant to each audience:

 Example: Mentoring Homemakers in Interview Skills
Audience: widows, older adults, Empty Nesters,
Example: Community Health Fair
Audience: families and children
Example: A Gardening Expo
Audience: gardeners, landscapers, nurseries, Cornell Cooperative Master Gardening Staff, science students, environmental groups
Example: Appreciating Opera and Summer Theater in New York
Audience: summer residents, Capital Region residents, music lovers, theater lovers, or vacationers.

Consider the Impact of

  1. imagery
  2. vocabulary or slogan
  3. font style and size
  4. size/length of publicity materials
  5. serious/fun presentation
  6. how a targeted “audience” looks for and processes information:
      • print, audio, TV, internet, smart phone, e-mail, IM
      • tweets, social networking
      • community am/fm radio or TV
      • free cable announcements
      • community newspapers, “Pennysavers” or other
      • community bulletin boards, e-bulletin boards
      • Library Infoline: Dedicated call-in phone support for PCC events with recorded information
      • Web Info Line: IM or e-mail access point for community interaction

The “Basics”

A short text can be used as a basis for promotion. Once you have a standard announcement, it can be adapted to various alternate formats: posters, post cards, book marks, e-marketing and press releases.

Promotional methods

  • Choose a way to promote the event that is most suited to the target audience
  • All printed matter (invitations, letters, e-flyers or newsletters, posters, bookmarks, post cards) should be designed with the target audience in mind — this may mean having a number of different outreach tools for the same event.

Partnering with another event or community group

Other local organizations may be willing to help promote and sponsor an event.

Example Event: Internet Job Fair: Area job counselors and recruiters may be willing to attend and/or refer job hunters to an event with a postcard or flyer.
Example Event: A College Information Day: for Adult Learners and Transfer Students
Local colleges and area admissions staff and transfer specialists could assist students contemplating new or additional studies.

E-marketing, e-invitations, e-calendars, e-news, tweets, and social network postings

This is an effective and inexpensive method of getting the message across to a large number either by direct e-mail, or by indirect marketing through web sites.

  • Concentrate on presenting a basic information announcement in the body of the message — for immediacy
  • Create a succinct and catchy subject line
  • Use short pieces of text
  • E-mail distribution services can help — these can be found on the internet
  • Use local community, town and county web sites
  • Free listings web sites (such as a local public radio web site), a “happenings about town” web site, an e-tourism site, or a countywide information and referral service
  • Direct announcement to web sites of other organizations that have an interest in the subject of the event

If the target audience is a small, easily identified group, (such as an internal group of all libraries within a library system), an internal e-mail list would be helpful. Messages may be formatted in an e-template using a branded logo, color scheme or format that is easily identified with the Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary project.

E-invitations can be a good and inexpensive way to reach specific audiences for planned events with large publics and can be set up to allow the audience to see who has accepted an invitation. Other promotional material (e.g., flyers) can be included with the invitation or reminder, even if the information is in electronic form.

Mailings / Direct Mail

For external publics (local employers, community agencies, etc.), a direct mail approach (sending a letter and/or other promotional material to a known or named contact) is considered a best practice.

Flyers / News Supplements

A well-designed flyer can catch the attention with just a few words. With careful thought it does not have to be expensive. It does not need to be in color.

Flyers can be distributed through:

  • mailings
  • handouts
  • displays in prominent places, e.g., libraries, shops, schools, clubs

Banners / Large-Screen Electronic Visual Displays

Banners and electronic signs or displays should be displayed in prominent places — inside and outside high-traffic areas in the library, school buildings, or in town centers. Consider the places the target audience frequents when choosing the sites.


Posters should be liberally displayed in as many places as possible, even those within the project’s own place.

  • Maintain a list of sites that accept public information posters to create a circuit for area distribution by staff or volunteers.
  • To provide notice to the general public, consider routing to town hall, hospitals and other well-trafficked community locations.

Developing Media / Press Contacts

Beyond the Yellow Pages, many library resources can help identify local stations as well as local and regional newspapers, including free local community news resources. Some examples are:

    1. Bacon’s Newspaper-Magazine Directory
    2. Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook
    3. Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media
    4. The Newspaper Index

Radio Stations

If an event warrants regional, statewide or national coverage, consider using radio stations. Each radio station or Internet radio station may have a unique deadline situation for announcements. Determine the preferred method of contact for each outlet.

Press Releases


  • Provide day and date of release at the top
  • Include branding logo, PCC logo or banner and appropriate Federal logo and credit language
  • Use one-and-a-half or double line spacing
  • Provide a title for the event
  • Follow the journalistic mantra: The who? what? when? where? why? and how? of the event in the announcement
  • Create a first paragraph that is concise and relevant. Capture the reader’s attention. Use short factual sentences.
  • Plan to use generous white space between paragraphs and in margins. Avoid technical terms, jargon and slang.
  • Include a short quote or testimonial from someone closely involved in the project such as the State Librarian.
  • Include your name and contact details: address, telephone, fax, e-mail and URL
  • A note to editors can add practical details (e.g., directions).

For best results, telephone 2-3 days after sending the press release. Check whether it was received and if anyone will attend/cover the event. This can significantly improve the level of coverage and provide an added opportunity to sell the event.

Press Kits

Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary toolkits could contain:

Working with the Press for Interviews


  • Know the content to be communicated — strive to hit a few key points
  • Include any special event information
  • Support the need of PCC’s with library usage statistics
  • Be positive and enthusiastic
  • Try to create an interesting connection to the community — a story of community enterprise and impact
  • For telephone interviews, speak conversationally and clearly — avoid jargon and technical language
  • Mention the name and location of the center in the context of the interview
  • For “on-air” broadcast and cable interviews, consider styling the environment to portray the center and the person being interviewed to best advantage

Sample Publicity Timing Guidelines

4-6 weeks before event

  • Send out web-based announcements. Determine the need for printed or direct mail components.
  • Add event or promotion to area library and community calendars (regional and state)
  • Design event flyer and send to printers or self-publish
  • Adapt for web posting.
  • Check design with sponsors if necessary. (Refer to funding language and logo)

2-3 weeks before event

  • Circulate flyers and posters
  • Begin e-marketing
  • Begin writing press release, get all quotes checked
  • Arrange photo opportunity/press briefing if necessary
  • Develop Press Kits (if necessary)
  • Call editors/reporters for briefing. Follow-up with invitation for photo-op briefing
  • Send out photo opportunity or press briefing invitations
  • Send out e-marketing reminders
  • Pursue new story outlets
  • Confirm press attendance for event
  • Assign staff to take photos or video record the event
  • Follow up media inquiries
  • At events, distribute and collect evaluation forms

After the event

    • Thank all those involved and media who covered the story. Analyze evaluation forms for contacts and ideas before the next event.

    This document in .PDF pdf icon [432k] | See also Top Ten BTOP Award Announcement Communications Tips

Last Updated: August 17, 2010