PR skills for your community group/sports organisation

IN MY local area, we’re engaged in an heroic (possibly fruitless) face-off with the local County Council. From March, when our current librarian retires, the local library’s opening hours will be cut from an already tight 16 hours per week to a paltry 12 hours per week. This could mean that the library will open just one morning a week, leaving National School children without access to the library.

In addition, our librarian will not be replaced, with her hours taken over by not one, but three different librarians from neighbouring towns.

Rather than go gently into that bad night, a group of concerned people came up with a plan of action. I’m sharing them with you so that you may be able to use some of these actions should you need to lobby the powers that be about cuts to services in your area. This winning PR campaign got 100 people into a room with the county librarian and five public representatives.

  • Decided on our outcomes – maintain opening hours and services
    Organised public information meeting
    Sent notes re cuts and meeting home via  school children in nine local schools
    Put notes re cuts and meeting in local magazines, church notes
    Devised template letter for parents, school principals, grandparents, readers, concerned locals to send to county councillors and TDs Put up posters in surrounding towns re public meeting
    Sent press releases to local newspapers and local radio stations
    Invited local press photographers to public meeting
    Set up Facebook page and event page re info meeting
    Sent letters to local authors inviting them to information evening
    Organised a petition to Wicklow County Council with target of 1000 names
    Asked National School children to produce drawings on what library means to them
    Organised door-to-door fliers about cuts and information meeting

A PR campaign is about numbers – attendees at an information meeting, volume of letters to the authorities, likes on a Facebook page, names on a petition, mentions in the local press, photographs in the local press.

Having the numbers means you can make noise. Noise makes your cause visible and vocal. And it may just produce the result you want.

It’s about waving, not drowning!