ALIA media kit
Now in its ninth successful year, National Simultaneous Storytime 2009 will take place on Wednesday 27 May at 11:00am. The children's book, Pete the Sheep, written by Jackie French and illustrated by Bruce Whatley, will be read simultaneously at participating organisations throughout the country.
An initiative of the Australian Library and Information Association, National Simultaneous Storytime is aimed at promoting the value of reading and literacy, highlighting the importance of Australia's book industry and the role of libraries.
This kit is designed to help you get the best publicity and media coverage for your library in the lead up to National Simultaneous Storytime. If you require further assistance or advice, please contact the ALIA events registrar (please remove '.nospam' from address), ph 02 6215 8214.
Attracting media attention
Publicising our role in and service to our community is a vital part of the professional practice of library and information service providers.
As we know the media like something dramatic, something different, something relevant to the news of the day or something novel.
It helps you gain media attention if you directly involve the media in your National Simultaneous Storytime 2009 activities. A few years ago, for instance, as part of Library and Information Week festivities, ALIA's NSW Branch walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge - participants dressed imaginatively to show a positive, fun-loving image of librarians. They invited ABC radio personality Simon Marnie to give the prizes for the best-dressed groups and the event received excellent publicity.
Tips on drafting media statements
There is more to gaining media coverage than sending out a media releases, but a media release is nevertheless a must. To be effective it must sell the sizzle - as well as inform about the sausage.
The first sentence and certainly the first paragraph must deliver the news 'hook'. Generalisations or explanations are not suitable for opening statements. A news story must answer the questions who, when, where, why and sometimes, how and to whom.
Always use the active rather than the passive voice. For example 'Billabong Public Library will open on Sunday afternoons from 27 May', rather than 'There will be an extension of library opening hours on Sundays at Billabong Public Library'.
Ensure that dates, times, places and details for further information (preferably with a named contact person) are included in the media statement.
Include some general information on what kind of library you are, who you serve, the types of services and the innovative programs you offer, library resources, how you use technology, your key statistics, the difference that you make.
Tips on targeting the media - and being persistent
Identify your media outlets through Margaret Gee's Australian media guide or other such guides. The guide provides the names of the editors of specific subject matters. It is often a good idea to target the subject editors, especially on more 'meaty' issues. In most other cases the chief of staff decides whether your story will be covered. Decisions are usually taken at a very late stage, and you may need to 'hang-in there' to gain coverage, especially if you target the bigger media. It is a lot easier to get the attention of smaller, local media - they are often desperate for material.
Send the information about your activities and issues to your selected media two or three weeks before your event. Importantly, follow up by phone a week before, especially if your event presents photo opportunities - and then again the day before - and on the day.
Use your local knowledge and networks when identifying your target journalist - you might even contact the librarians in national media for tips about individual staffers you can target.
To gain television coverage requires visual novelty, colourful events, and sometimes high-profile personalities. The ALIA NSW branch harbour bridge walk mentioned above is a good example. The walk was televised as well as radio-broadcasted.
If you want coverage, you may need to develop your event with television in mind - and time the event for before noon if you are to get into the news that evening.
Give the station as much advance notice as you can and follow-up with a phone call to keep up the momentum and to clarify arrangements and appointments.
To gain radio coverage, you may need to identify a specific story or angle, and one or more good spokespersons for the station to choose from. You and they would need to be willing to go to the studio when required, unless the station will come to the library for your event - local radio is often receptive to interview requests.
Print media is the easiest to deal with. If you want pre-event publicity, cultivate your targeted journalists before the event and provide them with material that easily can be adapted - the more work you have done, the more likely it is that you get the coverage you want. Remember that 'letters to the editor' are surprisingly effective, especially if they come from one of your users or supporters. Radio and print media can both rely on a good media statement and/or a telephone call for a news story and for pre-publicity. Remember to inform the free suburban press and community radio.
Tips on media interviews
If you are interviewed on radio or television be well-prepared with the points you wish to make - you may not get much time on air to make them - and with statistics on library usage and services and the characteristics of the population you serve. Ask, before the interview, how much time you will have and what the format is (for example, question and answer). Be prepared to pass smoothly to a new point if you are asked a question which you cannot or will not answer.
In all interviews, but especially on radio and television, be enthusiastic and positive, especially about the contribution libraries are making and will make to the community. However, if asked, comment on specific library needs or resourcing.
Tips on your media kit
The kit of information that you send to the media will include the following:
- A media release (a sample follows).
- Information about participants in your event (for example, background information about the person who will be reading the story or information about the author and illustrator of Pete the Sheep).
- Descriptions of library services.
- Highlights of library programs and statistics of use, population served as way of background information about your library and information service.
- Sample media release for National Simultaneous Storytime.
Sample media release for National Simultaneous Storytime
Following is a sample media release which can be edited for use by your library...
National Simultaneous Storytime comes to <insert your organisation here>
On Wednesday 27 May 2009 at 11:00am <insert your local time in bold>, <insert the name of your organisation> will join organisations from Broome to Hobart, reading the picture book Pete the Sheep to more than 100,000 children across Australia.
Now in its ninth successful year, National Simultaneous Storytime 2009 aims to celebrate and acknowledge the vital work being done in libraries, schools and communities around Australia to develop young people's literacy and numeracy skills.
The event has been organised by the Australian Library and Information Association, to promote the value of reading and literacy, the importance of Australia's book industry and the role of libraries.
Pete the Sheep is written by the award winning author, Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley and published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia.
<insert details of who is reading the story in your local school or library and why you have chosen them, any people of note attending the event, and any related colourful activities...>
For information about the local event, contact <your details here>.
For more information on National Simultaneous Storytime around Australia, contact the Australian Library and Information Association, PO Box 6335 Kingston 2604, ph 02 6215 8222. Or visit the National Simultaneous Storytime pages on ALIAnet at http://www.alia.org.au/advocacy/storytime/.