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Advocacy Guru Stephanie Vance


The Association of College & Research Libraries (better known as ACRL) held its President’s Program in the Hilton Chicago on Monday afternoon. After awards fanfare, the program turned to the topic of Advocacy in Today’s Environment. It involved a panel (what doesn’t anymore?), but the real attraction was Stephanie Vance from Advocacy Associates LLC.

During the time I spent there (this being ALA, I couldn’t stay for the entire 4-hour event) focused on legislative advocacy. (And whenever you have time to digest it, ACRL’s full legislative agenda is online.) Vance talked about how government regulations are part of almost everything we come in contact with every day. (Listening to the radio? FCC. Sitting in a structure? building codes.) However, legislators are very accessible, you just have to know how to communicate with them and be willing to do it on their terms.

Time with legislators (or, more often, their staffers) is short and precious, so you must prepare your talking points ahead of time, boil them down to a specific, actionable message, and deliver it in a way that will get through. Realize what influences legislators: relationships, personal stories, media reports, their constituents.

One thing that Vance, an excellent and funny presenter, explained was the difference between advocacy and lobbying. Many people are not allowed to lobby because of the jobs they hold, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t help. Advocacy, Vance said, is a fancy word for educating people about topics (not talking about specific legislation). Lobbying, on the other hand, is asking someone to support or oppose a certain piece of legislation.

Vance went through exercises where the audience crafted and delivered messages intended to influence policymakers. That seemed to keep attendees interested and engaged through a long session about a complicated, but very important, topic. If you ever get a chance to hear her talk about this, go for it!

P.S.: check out her book, Citizens in Action.

 ~Kathy Dempsey, editor, Marketing Library Services newsletter

Author, Author

Kathy Dempsey, former editor of Computers in

Kathy Dempsey introduces her first book.

Kathy Dempsey introduces her first book.

Libraries magazine and current editor of Marketing Library Services newsletter, has a new moniker to add to her list of credentials: book author. Dempsey, who just published The Accidental Library Marketer, was busy talking to library marketers and autographing copies of her new book during the ALA Swap & Shop on Sunday.

“I’m ridiculously relieved that the book is finished, I’m happy with the way it came out, and I’m very thrilled with the response the book is having in the marketplace so far,” says Dempsey. Penning the 75,000-word manuscript was “a lot harder than I ever thought it would be,” she says, noting that she started writing in March 2008 but put her creative efforts on hold temporarily to help out with the Shanachie book project.

“The reception that I’ve received about the book has gone far beyond my expectations,” she says. But the book buzz is just beginning. For library professionals and paraprofessionals who need a hand negotiating new marketing strategies on the internet, this book is destined to be a guidebook for all the game plans and initiatives to come. The book, says Dempsey, offers some of the best, proven ways for find funding and building solid relationships with users and the community.

For more information, stop by the Information Today, Inc. booth (#4525) or visit

Barbara Brynko
Information Today

Good Advice from the Media Man

The very animated Dave Baum practiced what he preached to keep his talk interesting and entertaining.

The very animated Dave Baum practiced what he preached to keep his talk interesting and entertaining.

The Sunday afternoon Media Relations Training was a worthwhile event for any library employee who wanted to know more about how to get the media’s attention, score some coverage, and deliver their messages as clearly as possible. I’d seen speaker Dave Baum before, but enjoyed listening to him again. Baum has been reporting and interpreting news and sports on radio, on TV, and in print for more than 40 years, and his experience sure shows. (You can hear him now on Internet Talk Radio.)

Baum delivered way more information than I could fit into any blog post, but I’ll share some highlights of his advice here. When talking to reporters:

  • Never think you can actually say anything off the record. “If you don’t want to see it, read it, or hear it, don’t say it.”
  • If the media is reporting on bad news from your library (crime, porn, etc.), don’t try to dodge the matter. Instead, “Prepare up front for the stuff you don’t want to get asked about” so you can speak carefully about it. Honestly acknowledge the problem and tell the reporter what you’re doing to solve it.
  • Never say “no comment” – that implies guilt.
  • You need to be animated and appear happy when you’re interviewed. The truth is that, after a quick interview, viewers may not remember just what you said, but they’ll take away an impression of whether you were likeable.
  • When you’re on TV, you absolutely have to smile at some point. As Baum exclaimed several times, “I wanna see teeth!”
  • Deliver your message via stories. Reporters absolutely love stories. “Storify it!”
  • Before you’re even interviewed, know exactly what’s most important to get across. What’s your main message? (repeat it a few times.) What’s the take-away? (what should listeners remember or act upon?)

Baum also answered the age-old question about how to get reporters’ attention and time. What can you do to get them to pick up your press releases or stories? Even with the many changes in media over the years, this answer remains the same: Nothing works better than developing good old-fashioned business relationships.

~Kathy Dempsey

Editor, Marketing Library Services newsletter

The Swap & Shop Always Draws a Crowd!

The crowd lined up around the corner waiting for the Swap & Shop to open.

The crowd lined up around the corner waiting for the Swap & Shop to open.

The annual Swap & Shop is where savvy marketers go to get examples of what their colleagues have been producing as far as brochures, annual reports, giveaways, and other promotional products. It’s also the site of the Swap’s Best of Show awards as well as a place to meet those marketing listserv buddies in person.

This shows just some of the PR Masterpieces that were on display to help others learn about good PR materials.

This shows just some of the PR Masterpieces that were on display to help others learn about good PR materials.

This year’s theme was PR Masterpieces, and plenty works were on display. This year’s Swap drew more than 800 attendees in the 2.5 hours it was open in the back of the exhibit hall. Library marketing is alive and well!

~Kathy Dempsey

editor, Marketing Library Services and Swap participant