Association of College & Research Libraries

Media tips: How to get speaking opportunities

I think that talking to non-librarians about what we do is important and recently I learned more about how to do that. The presidents and vice- presidents of the ALA divisions received media training as part of the ALA World Book Award 1991-92. It was terrific! In the next several issues of C‹bEL News I’d like to share some of the very practical “how to” suggestions that were covered in the training, such as “Getting your message across” and “What to do when the media calls.” I hope you will find them useful as you get messages about librarians out in your community.—Anne Beaubien, ACRL President

1. Be proactive. Don’t wait for an invitation.

2. Identify potential audiences. Where do you need to speak to be sure that your message reaches the largest possible audience? Who needs to hear about librarians and library issues in order to take advantage of your services and, most importantly, support your campaign?

Reach out to diverse audiences—faculty and students, business and professional associations, legislators, parents, senior citizens, minorities, the economically disadvantaged, and physically challenged to name only a few. Remember to include gatherings of public policy officials, a city council or state legislative panel, newspaper editorial boards, local press clubs.

3. Make a list. Put together a mailing list with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of program officers for groups you wish to address. Your library may already have such a directory—if not, start one.

4. Send a letter. Briefly explain what it is you wish to discuss, why the topic will be of interest to their members and if there is any urgency involved.

“Physicians are dependent on the latest information to solve medical mysteries. Librarians work daily to ensure that information is available and affordable, but there are challenges to our ability to continue to ensure that access. I would appreciate an opportunity to explain to your members what is at risk and how we might work together to solve this looming problem.”

5. Make follow-up calls. Personal contact can make the difference. Ask whether your letter was received, if there are questions. Is there another topic that would be of more interest to their members?

6. Do a great job and they’ll ask you again, and recommend you to others.

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