What do you do when someone says “yes?”
First of all, thank the person sincerely for his or her willingness to champion your library. Let your notables know that you value their generosity and their time. Celebrate! This is a great accomplishment for your Local Notables Committee and an exciting opportunity for your library. You are about to embark on a very special experience. Be very organized about the next phase of work because that will determine how smoothly the experience flows and whether or not you want to do this again. Here is a checklist of tasks that should not be overlooked:
- Confirm the date/time/place and length of time the local notable or celebrity is giving you.
- Confirm exactly what you are asking the local notable to do (speak on behalf of your library, meet funding decision-makers, pose for photos or videos, greet the public, etc.), and what your library will provide (transportation, publicity, food, etc.).
- Spell these details out carefully in writing. You will probably not need a formal contract. Usually, a Letter of Agreement that outlines the points below will suffice:
- Details of who, what, when and where
- The amount of time you’re requesting the local notable or celebrity to give you
- The services you’re requesting from that person
- Details of what he or she can expect from your library and its staff
- Use of the individual’s name and image
- Compensation for expenses incurred (if applicable)
Once you have drafted that letter, send the person who has agreed to lend his or her valuable time and influence two (2) copies and a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you are using the US mail. Instruct the individual to sign one copy and return it to you, and keep the other copy. Click here for a sample Letter of Agreement (PDF) / Letter of Argeement (Word doc).
If you are requesting permission to use photos or video images, you will need a Photo Release Form. This is a short, simple form that spells out how and where his or her photos and videos may be used. If possible, keep the form general to allow your library as many opportunities to use the images as possible. Click here for a sample Photo Release Form (PDF) / Photo Release Form (Word doc).
- Develop a Press Release and Public Service Announcement (PSA). Send these to your local media outlets (newspaper, radio, TV) about three weeks in advance of an event. These give the media and the public advance information about your exciting partnership and announce your local notable or celebrity’s advocacy event, if there will be one.
Click here for instructions and a template called a
Writing a Press Release (PDF)
Writing a Press Release
Click here for
Writing a Public Service Announcement (PDF)
Writing a Public Service Announcement
A few tips for getting press attention:
- The old fashioned way (working the phones and developing relationships with reporters) works the best.
- Frame your story with a news hook – a reason to cover it. Find a way to pull out something that is newsworthy and not just promotional in nature (relate it to a local “hot” issue or other story that got press).
- Be sure your press release and PSA are letter-perfect (no errors).
- Always include the local AP office in your distribution list.
- If someone covers your event, take a minute to say thank you via phone, e-mail or note.
- If a person of influence will visit your library as an advocate, and students or the public can come, make some flyers and bookmarks promoting the visit and don’t forget to promote it via social networking sites as well.
- If a celebrity will visit your library as an advocate, be sure you have people on hand to greet him or her.
- Have a clear schedule for the day, particularly if there is a photo shoot, meet-and-greet, or opportunities for recording video messages and/or an interview for your library’s website. Keep it flexible enough to allow for a late arrival, for a photo shoot taking longer than anticipated, etc. but know the exact sequence of activities and approximately when they will occur and how long they will take.
- Find out ahead of time whether you will need special audio-visual equipment or other unusual requirements.
- Have a plan for letting the media take photos and get what they need for a story.
- Have refreshments on hand for those involved in the visit.
- Have a small thank you gift for your local notable or celebrity.
What if he or she says “no?”
If a well-known person declines your invitation to become a visible advocate for your library, your first reaction will understandably be disappointment, but don’t feel discouraged. Influential people get many such invitations and can only accommodate a very few. His or her inability to help you is not a criticism of your library or its services, so don’t take it personally. Instead, say “thank you” for considering your invitation and try to keep the door open. If the person has said, “I can’t do it now, but please ask me again in the future,” create a file that will help you remember that and plan to do it. Set a specific time when you will follow up and ask again: “May I check with you again after the holidays?” Keep a record of all communication to and from your local notables for future reference, and be sure that everyone you contact is on a list to receive regular communication from your library.