Public Notice DOs and DON'Ts

The DOs and DON'Ts of public notice publication for newspapers

As state legislatures and public officials take steps to eliminate public notice requirements—or begin putting notices on line—local newspaper publishers risk losing an essential element to their role as community chroniclers.

How publishers respond to this threat will have an enormous impact on the future of public notice requirements. While publishers understand that providing proper notice of government or other legal actions is essential to democracy, your readers and your legislators may not.

Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts to help publishers tap the power they have to influence the outcome of this continuing debate.

DO ... tell your readers—regularly—about the importance of public notices and your role in publishing notices

  • DO ... give public notices a prominent—and permanent—position in your newspaper.
  • DO ... make public notices easier to read and to understand.
  • DO ... train your staff on the importance of public notice and any requirements for the notice.
  • DO ... use public notice as a source of news stories.
  • DO ... let customers know you’re the public notice expert.
  • DO ... work with MPA to monitor public notice legislation.
  • DO…display notices (or a link to them) prominently on your website.
  • DO…push notices by using your social media. This will raise awareness with new generations.

DON'T ... treat public notice as just another classified advertising category.

  • DON'T ... treat public notice as just another classified advertising category.
  • DON'T ... assume your readers know you're the source for local public notices.
  • DON'T ... put your least-experienced staff member in charge of public notices.
  • DON'T ... think that this is only about revenue for your newspaper.