What can you ask your local notable to actually do?
Once you’ve identified your best local notables or celebrities, how you use them is up to you, but you must be able to describe exactly what you want each of them to do. This is “the ask.” You should be prepared to explain:
- Why are you asking for their help?
- What you want your local notables to say about your library and its services?
- Are they willing to let you provide the message, or do they want to help you craft that?
- Are they willing to appear in photos with your advocacy message?
- Are they willing to visit your library?
- Are they willing to speak out on your web site?
- Will they appear in a YouTube video for your library?
You should be able to explain clearly how their participation in this advocacy initiative creates a WIN-WIN situation for the library AND for the influential person. Maybe your celebrity is a regular library user, or maybe he or she hasn’t set foot in a library since high school. Whatever the case, it’s your job to provide the person with information on your library, its issues and the message you wish to convey through him or her through some talking points. Do this by creating a brief fact sheet so the person is not in a position of improvising.
Your Local Notables Committee should spend time determining each local notable’s most effective advocacy message and activities so you have a clear “ask” to communicate.
For example, you can ask your local notable to:
- Brainstorm with your committee to develop an advocacy message that he or she feels comfortable with. His or her personality and unique style should be reflected so that the local notable feels he or she “owns” the message and is not just a mouthpiece for someone else’s message.
- Help you by leveraging connections to publishers, authors, or others who might be difficult for you to have access to on your own.
- Give you a quote that you can use in promoting a specific library service throughout your community. You should suggest the content of quotes, but the quotes should be the notable’s own words. The quote can appear on bookmarks, for example, and on your library’s website. Download a photo from the celebrity’s website to accompany the advocacy quote. Click here for Using Quotes from local notables and celebrities.
- Come to your library and let you take photos there, and allow you to use those with an important advocacy messages that he/she will be able to approve. The photos and messages could be made into posters, bookmarks, and appear on your library’s website. Click here for Using Photos along with your advocacy message.
- Visit your library to create an exciting community advocacy event. Photos from this visit should appear in your local paper as well as on your library’s web site.
- Let you film a short video clip of the local notable speaking your library’s advocacy message or engaged in a short interview. This would be a great addition to your library’s website. Click here for Using Video Images.
- Important: Work on developing a long-term relationship with the local notables you work with. Their ongoing interest and perhaps repeat presence will help you with your future advocacy work. Invite their ideas!
Will people do this for free? Yes! Your local celebrity should be willing to help your library without charging you. This is an opportunity for him or her to garner some positive publicity while helping your library promote its important message. Remember, this is a WIN-WIN situation for all.
The only exception to the “free” rule occurs if the person helping you must incur personal costs in carrying out his or her agreement to advocate for your library. These expenses may include food, travel and perhaps some production costs. Your library should find out in advance how much those costs will run and be prepared to pay them. One strategy for covering such expenses is to enlist the support of a business or community sponsor who will pay the costs in exchange for the inclusion of its name and/or logo with the celebrity’s images in your campaign. Another WIN-WIN opportunity!