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4 Steps to Amazing Advocacy

NM Library Snapshot DaySnapshot Day – which will be held next month on April 16, 2015 – is all about building a quality collection of materials to use when you advocate for your library. Following Snapshot Day, the State Library will aggregate the data, images, and stories collected from libraries statewide and create a comprehensive document available for all participating libraries’ use – similar to this one created in 2010 – but you can also re-purpose your collection of materials for different advocacy campaigns.

Unsure of how to build an advocacy campaign?  Get started with four steps to amazing advocacy!

SET GOALS

When you advocate for anything, you are trying to communicate value. But before you begin, make sure you have a clear goal. What library issues are most important to you? What are your goals? Are you fighting a budget cut? Are you trying to raise funds for a new building or new programs? Determine your key issues, prioritize those issues, and then use that to define your goal. For example, if the key issues are lack of support for the city and fear of budget cuts, your goal might be to increase support in the city council to fight decreased funding.

DEVELOP YOUR MESSAGE

It’s important to clearly communicate to your constituents to effectively meet your goal. Determine who your audience is: this may be the city council itself, or maybe it is library supporters who can help spread your message. You can develop your message by considering facts that you have gathered at your library (or data, photos, and stories collected on Snapshot Day!) Which of these pieces of information would help illustrate your issue or persuade someone of the valuable services your library has? Great messaging appeals to people’s emotions and motivates them to act. Create at least three talking points, stories, or examples that support your goal.

GET THE MESSAGE OUT THERE

Once you know what you want to communicate, decide how you will communicate it. Some effective platforms are library newsletters, websites, social media channels, and promotional materials like bookmarks, posters, and direct mailings. Tapping into the media by sending press releases to newspapers, television stations, and radio stations, is a great way to get your messaging into community members that you don’t already reach through the library. You can also set up meetings with members of the city council to share your talking points.

BUILD A SOLID TEAM

Setting goals, developing messaging, and communicating that message can’t – and shouldn’t – be done by one or two people. You need a team that will track progress and ensure your efforts are making an impact. A coordinating committee is a great way to manage the campaign. Each member can be in charge of specific tasks (media outreach, digital outreach, face to face meetings, etc.) Create criteria to use for evaluation of your advocacy efforts after a period of time. Make the necessary changes and continuing working toward the improvement of library services in your communities!

For more support, ideas, and tools for success, visit ALA’s Advocacy University.

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