As well as direct publicity through talks, articles and news reports you can sometimes get indirect publicity for ringing through non-ringing bodies. You need to establish some aspect of common interest and then convince the body concerned that the idea is worth developing to your mutual advantage. Such opportunities are usually specific to a particular place. Here are some ways you might be able to find and exploit such opportunities.
Some towns install commemorative plaques on buildings that are special, were the site of a notable event, or were associated with someone famous. Some towns (including London) use circular ‘blue plaques’. Other towns use other shapes or colours. Some just contain a short statement but others have a full description, and possibly a picture.
Plaques are promoted by local history societies and heritage bodies, which may be interested to identify new sites for plaques, especially in towns of a historic nature or which have some form of heritage trail. Plaque schemes have strict selection criteria for what it is suitable to commemorate, so you must be able to demonstrate that the person or event, and the association with the building, is of sufficient significance to meet the scheme’s overall objectives.
Did any pioneering ringers live in your area? Do you know where they lived or worked? Could you explain their significance to a nonringer? Did they also play a prominent role in the town’s life? Did a significant event in ringing history take place in your town? Was ringing, or a ringer, connected with a significant event in your town’s history?
In any of these cases it might be worth trying to interest your local historical society to promote a plaque to record it. Do the research to identify the connection, so that you can explain its significance. If the building is interesting in its own right, that will help.
The English Heritage website has information about plaque schemes and how they operate, see: www.englishheritage.org.uk/discover/blueplaques/about/
Many towns that operate a plaque scheme are listed at: www.englishheritage.org.uk/discover/blueplaques/register/
The buildings most associated with ringing history are churches, many of which already contain peal boards, etc in their towers, but these are not generally visible to the public. Some churches do have blue plaques or similar so it is worth considering the case for a more public ringing related plaque as well as whatever is in the tower.
Local museums often focus on the town’s industry, culture or how it evolved but they often include sections representing the ‘ordinary life’ of the town as well. Small displays about former local people or events each tell a story supported by a picture(s) and/or artefact(s).
Do you know of any ringing related events or colourful former ringers in your town? Could you tell their story in a way that would be interesting to nonringers? Do you have any old pictures or artefacts that could illustrate a ringing related story?
There is a list of local museums at: britainexpress.com/Where_to_go_in_Britain/Museums
Some towns have a ‘virtual museum’ – a website either linked to, or a substitute for, a physical museum. Space is less of an issue in a virtual museum so it may be easier to get a new exhibit accepted. A virtual museum has the additional benefit that a ringing related item could include a link to a more comprehensive website about ringing.
Inns are increasingly seen as an important part of our national heritage. As well as local interest there are national bodies that record their history.
Do any of the inns in your area have a historic link with ringing? For example did any of them sponsor ringing contests in the 18th or 19th century (there are many documented examples of inns that did)? If so then you might be able to develop the story to gain the interest of the landlord or the owner.
The history of English pubs (in 2014 it covered 16 counties) is recorded at: pubshistory.com
If the only ringing connection with your local inn is regular use by the ringers there might still be scope to develop some interest. Does the landlord know that you are ringers? Might he/she be interested if you offered some old pictures or a display? Might it be a way to get talking to other customers and develop their interest?
Local event organisers
Many towns host events like winter street fairs or county shows. If you take part you may be able to generate extra publicity in addition to what you do on the day. If you are planning a mini ring to demonstrate ringing then as well as what you do on the day you might be able to persuade the organisers to feature it as a major attraction in their publicity. Even with something more modest like a stall selling things to raise money for a tower project, with a display or poster about ringing, it might be worth telling the organisers who are often keen to play up anything out of the ordinary that will attract people to the event.
Local history societies
There are many local history societies – more than you might think. If you offer them a talk about the history of ringing in your area you can include information about modern ringing too. That may generate further interest from the society’s members. Maybe the society could help you research the history of ringing locally.
To find local history societies see: Local History Online.
There are 350+ civic societies in England, 100+ in Scotland and ~50 in Wales. Their interests include conservation and the promotion of community activities. It is worth developing a link with your local civic society to explore any areas where you might be able to help each other. They might welcome a talk or article about ringing. Some societies give grants to support community activities, for example publishing a book about local ringing history. You should at least be able to get a link to a suitable website about ringing.
Civic societies are listed at: (England) civicvoice.org.uk/societies/map/; (Scotland) scottishcivictrust.org.uk/civic-trust-network; (Wales)civictrustwales.wordpress.com/network ; (Ireland) no convenient list found.
Heritage Open Days
Heritage Open Days is a National Partnership, supported by English Heritage, that promotes the opening of historic buildings on one weekend each year. If you choose to run a tower open day or similar event Tower visits & open days during that weekend you can tap into a lot of supporting publicity: locally if your town is organising other openings and/or nationally if you choose to register with the scheme. See: heritageopendays.org.uk/about/